We spent 30 hours researching the best way to construct a registry, surveying married couples to figure out their best registry choices and interviewing couples with a collective 94 years of marriage. We’ve curated this list with new picks and favorites from our existing guides, creating a mix of big-ticket investment items and less-expensive gifts for your loved ones on tighter budgets.
It’s easy to get carried away registering for entire catalog pages depicting one impeccably arranged room after another, only to end up with stuff you don’t use or a bunch of products that don’t fit your needs or lifestyle. Stay focused on what’s important: designing a life for yourself and your partner with minimal friction around the day-to-day items that shape the space you share.
Why you should trust us
To draw up our list, we surveyed nearly 300 people to find out what wedding gifts they used constantly and what products they regretted requesting. We also read articles from Apartment Therapy, The Knot, Real Simple, and other sources in our effort to compose the ultimate collection of items. In addition, we interviewed long-married couples we know to hear their personal stories about equipping a marriage: We talked to Debi Ogg, who has been married to her husband, Steve, for 35 years; Sarah Dillon, who has been married to her husband, John, for 43 years; Rob Pegoraro, who has been married to his wife, Katie, for 13 years; and Liam McCabe, who has been with his wife, Natalie, for eight years.
Most couples told us they wished they had put fewer, more high-quality items on their registry as opposed to many low- or medium-quality ones. “The extra cost is usually worth the extra reliability and product life in terms of overall value,” said Debi Ogg. But this is not the same thing as splurging on fancy things, she explained. “Couples should really think about the viability of putting formal items, like china, crystal glasses, and vases on the registry,” she said. “We have found we have used them very rarely over the years, they take up storage space, and are often delicate items for handling.”
This high-performance blender blends more gracefully than any of the others we’ve tested. Its motor powers through thick, taxing mixtures, and it comes with a seven-year warranty backed by excellent customer service.
After testing 22 different blender models over the course of five years, we think the Vitamix 5200 is the best choice. Although this model ranks among the priciest blenders you can buy, it came highly recommended by multiple experts because it powerfully purees and pulverizes foods more reliably and thoroughly than most. It was the only one we’ve tried that can make creamy peanut butter and can puree soup without spewing molten liquid up the sides of the jar.
This Oster Versa model offers the best balance between performance and price that we’ve found. It’s not as powerful or durable as the Vitamix 5200, but it holds its own against many blenders twice the price.
The Oster Versa is another solid choice. This workhorse is seriously good at blending, it can fit under most cabinets more easily than fancier models, and it comes with a tamper for breaking up air bubbles. The Oster Versa has 10 speeds and is even capable of making butter out of nuts, as long as you feed it two cups at once.
Smoother and faster puréeing (as well as a smarter design) make this immersion blender worth its steep price.
If an immersion blender is more your speed or style, or if you’d like one for situations where dumping a pot of hot vegetables into a regular blender canister doesn’t seem safe, our immersion-blender pick is the Breville BSB510XL Control Grip Immersion Blender. This stick blender is also capable of turning peanuts into peanut butter, and its sharp blades can crush ice. The Breville was one of the only models we tried that didn’t suction itself to the bottom of pots or cups, and it has a wide speed range.
"We received a food processor/blender combination 35 years ago as a wedding gift that we used frequently for many years," Debi Ogg told us. The blender was a central piece in her kitchen until it broke down: "We replaced it with individual pieces (a food processor and another blender) since the combination units weren't being produced anymore." In hindsight, she said, these were the pieces that were worth an investment. “These were items that fall into the category of things we couldn't live without." —Debi and Steve Ogg, married since 1981.
It comes in a wide variety of colors and has a high-quality enamel finish that’s less likely to chip over the long haul.
If you're seeking an heirloom-quality Dutch oven for your family that cooks as well as anything and will stand up to decades of use, we recommend the classic Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast-Iron 5½-Quart Round French Oven. Offering the most comfortable handles of any Dutch oven we tried, as well as the most resilient enamel finish, the Le Creuset compensated for many of our deliberate cooking mistakes during our tests. In the event that it does chip, Le Creuset offers a lifetime warranty, and the company has in the past offered up to 75 percent off a new Dutch oven even when the owner was at fault for the damage.
If the Le Creuset is too expensive, our standard pick for most people is the Lodge Color 6-quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. The Lodge’s cooking surface is about half an inch smaller than that of the Le Creuset (less room for browning meat), and its handles are not quite as big and comfortable, but it cooks just as well, and Lodge offers a limited lifetime warranty covering any damage that arises from normal use.
This model evenly toasts bread, bakes cookies, and brings frozen foods to life as effectively as (and sometimes better than) competitors that cost significantly more.
Few things in a kitchen get less respect and more use than a toaster oven. If you don’t have quite so much room, our recommendation is the Panasonic FlashXpress. This model has a small footprint—about that of a four-slot toaster—and heats evenly thanks to its combination of infrared heating elements (quartz and ceramic). Reviewed.com describes this oven as having a “cult following” of people who were disappointed when it disappeared from the US market for a brief time in 2014.
The Cuisinart TOB-260N1 delivers impressively even cooking, a whopping nine-slice toast capacity, a three-year warranty, and some useful accessories.
If you have the counter space, go for the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven. This toaster oven can hold nine pieces of toast at once. It can also handle many other big tasks with ease and pinch-hit on full-size-meal tasks when you’re hosting a big dinner or holiday party. On top of that, the Cuisinart cooks more evenly and has a better warranty (three years) than other models we tried.
After engaging in a combined 41 hours of research and expert interviews over the past two years, and brewing hundreds of cups of coffee in 12 machines, we like the OXO Brew 9 Cup Coffee Maker best for everyday use. Much easier to work with than other models we tested, it makes coffee that tastes close to pour-over, and you can program it to brew a fresh pot in the morning (so long as you grind and load your coffee the night before). The OXO also has a thermal carafe that’s easy to clean and to pour with.
This 5-quart stand mixer tackles nearly any recipe without knocking around on the counter, and it’s one of the quietest models in the KitchenAid line.
After 16 hours of research and 30 hours of side-by-side testing, we found the KitchenAid Artisan to be the best stand mixer. The Artisan can whip cake batter and cream butter more effectively than any other model, but it can also knead whole-wheat bread dough without straining or walking around the counter. Note that a big, powerful stand mixer isn’t for everyone: If you don’t bake at least once a week, skip this item. If you don’t need or don’t have room for a stand mixer like this one, consider instead our hand-mixer pick.
When Rob and Katie Pegoraro registered for their wedding, they picked up a stand mixer, figuring they could use it for the occasional batch of cookies or cakes. Eventually Rob realized he could use the dough-hook attachment to expedite his weekly loaf of homemade bread. They have used their stand mixer every week since their marriage in 2003. "Our daughter is very partial to PB and J sandwiches," Rob said. In 13 years, it has never given him a bit of trouble. (Here is his bread recipe.) —Rob and Katie Pegoraro, married since 2003.
If you regularly prepare meals at home, a high-quality skillet will make cooking a lot more enjoyable and help you progress as a cook. After 20 hours of research, we found that the All-Clad 12-Inch Stainless Steel Fry Pan is the best skillet you can buy. It’s dishwasher-, oven-, and broiler-safe, and professionals, enthusiasts, and home cooks alike love it for its superior heat conductivity, balanced handling, and durability. It even comes with a lifetime warranty. This skillet’s base isn't so thick that it takes forever to heat up or becomes difficult to maneuver, but it isn’t so thin that it requires you to make constant adjustments to avoid burning your food. It’s also tough as nails. Ask anyone who has been in the food industry long enough, and chances are good that they’ll have an All-Clad that they’ve been using for a decade or more.
In our most recent round of skillet testing, the Tramontina Gourmet Tri-Ply Clad 12-Inch Fry Pan emerged as a solid runner up for a lot less money. But the All-Clad is still better in every aspect so it’s worth the splurge for a dedicated home cook.
A 2-quart saucepan is the workhorse of any kitchen—one of the pots you’ll reach for every time you cook. After whisking 9 quarts of pastry cream, making 16 cups of caramel, and simmering 21 cups of rice pilaf in nine different saucepans, we recommend the All-Clad 4212 Stainless Steel Saucier. It comes with a lifetime warranty, and it can handle all of the basic, everyday functions of a small saucepan, plus more advanced techniques.
The rounded sloping corners of this saucier make stirring easy and fluid when you’re whisking thick custards or banishing lumps from gravy, and the bent lip helps you avoid making a mess when pouring. The long handle is comfortable to hold and stays cool during cooking. Bonded tri-ply throughout the saucepan means you won’t get hot spots, and food will cook evenly. This pot is an heirloom-quality item that you could hand down to kids or grandkids.
A sleek tapered shape and a comfortable handle make everyday dicing and slicing tasks smoother and quicker, with a high-carbon blade that stays sharp longer than softer stainless-steel blades.
A kitchen can have a lot of tools, but few are as integral to the cooking experience as a chef’s knife. After 75 hours of conducting research and testing 14 different blades, we found that the MAC MTH-80 8-inch Chef’s Knife with Dimples gave us the best experience, thanks to its incredibly sharp blade. We were even able to slice basil without causing the edges to brown, as well as to cut a butternut squash straight down the middle. The MTH-80’s blade has a high carbon content, so it will stay sharp for an incredibly long time. It makes clean cuts, and the handle is small and nice to hold. We are certain it will last a lifetime with proper care. For our additional picks, including a German-style, more traditional knife, read our full guide.
The Neuro Fuzzy makes sublime Japanese rice and is great at other varieties, even if you mess up the ratios. Although it’s a little slow, it’s the most all-around excellent and foolproof cooker we tested.
The Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy NS-ZCC10 made the best white rice among the rice cookers we tested. Each grain turned out perfect—taut and plump, giving a little when pressed, without turning into a paste. When we intentionally mismeasured the ratio of rice to water, the Neuro Fuzzy was the only cooker able to adjust its cooking parameters enough to make rice that was not just edible, but delicious. Though not the fastest machine we tested, the Neuro Fuzzy is by far the most versatile, making the best long-grain white rice, sticky rice, and rice porridge, plus respectable brown rice.
If you make rice at least a couple of times a week, or if you’re particularly discerning about rice texture and flavor, consider the Cuckoo CRP-G1015F 10 Cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker. It’s considerably more expensive than most rice cookers, but it uses pressure cooking to deliver even tender brown rice in half the time of conventional fuzzy-logic cookers.
After researching for 41 hours and considering 39 different models for our casserole guide, we came to a surprising conclusion: Most of the dishes we tested, ranging in price from $10 to $180, cooked food pretty similarly. But some features, such as roomy handles and classy styling, can make a dish stand out from its peers. The Revol Belle Cuisine 3.8-Quart Rectangular Roasting Dish is extremely easy to carry even with potholders, and this heirloom-quality piece is good-looking enough for you to set it right on the dinner table whether you’re serving your family or guests.
Once you learn to use a thermometer for testing the doneness of meat, frying in oil, or making yeast doughs, you won’t know how you ever lived without one. We tested 24 instant-read thermometers and found that the ThermoWorks Thermapen Mk4 is the best all-around model. At about $100, it is a splurge, but the superfast Thermapen Mk4 gives a close temperature estimate in two seconds and a precise reading in three. The Thermapen has a long fold-out probe, an automatic backlight, and automatic screen rotation, and it uses a AAA battery.
Big, stable, and eco-friendly, this board feels better under a knife than plastic and remains easier to maintain than other wood boards.
A wooden cutting board may require more careful cleaning than a plastic board, but the 20-by-15-inch Proteak TeakHaus Rectangle Edge Grain Cutting Board is the better addition to your registry for a number of reasons: It’s visually striking, it feels better (and more natural) under a knife than anything plastic, and it’s easier to maintain than other wood boards. After spending 150 hours on research and testing, including interviewing chefs and materials experts, chopping several pounds of produce, and using and abusing nearly 30 cutting boards, we concluded that no other wooden option could best it.
For millennia, boat and furniture makers have used teak for its moisture-fighting properties, and that’s exactly why the Proteak excels beyond every other wood board we tried. It requires regular oil treatments and needs to stay mostly free of moisture, but its time-tested and sustainable materials, joined in expert fashion, will last you many years.
A salad spinner will clean greens better than handwashing and with less mess and hassle, so if you eat salad regularly, this is an item worth adding to your registry. After doing 25 hours of research, interviewing three authors of salad-centered cookbooks, comparing 31 models, and performing hands-on testing of eight salad spinners, we found that the OXO Steel Salad Spinner is the best option for anyone who loves the look of stainless steel. In our tests, its pump spinner was the easiest to operate, drying both hardy greens and more delicate parsley without bruising—something the competition failed to do consistently. This spinner’s base is completely coated in a nonslip, rubbery material to help keep the bowl stable while you’re pumping, and it can double as an attractive serving bowl.
With the overwhelming amount of dinnerware collections to choose from, picking a set of dishes for your wedding registry can be a big decision—after all, whatever you select, you’ll be eating off these dishes for years to come. Although you can find plenty of fine-china sets marketed toward new couples, our research on this subject determined that registering for a fine-china set was one of the top regrets among long-term couples: The dishes simply don’t get used enough, and they take up too much storage space. A basic but high-quality whiteware set will look just as impressive in many settings but will be a lot more usable in everyday life.
After researching more than 200 whiteware collections and testing and evaluating 37 of them, we’ve found that the Dansk Ingram set or the Williams Sonoma Brasserie set is the best for most wedding registries. The Dansk set’s modern silhouette allows it to feel casual yet elegant—versatile enough for both everyday use and entertaining. And although the Brasserie set feels similar to durable restaurant dishes, it’s still refined and not at all clunky like the plates you might use at a diner. Thanks to their heft, you won’t feel like you need to be gentle with these sets. And if you need to replace a dish, the pieces of both are also sold open-stock.
The set of spoons, knives, and forks you like comes down in large part to taste. But the best options all meet a few objective criteria: The pieces feel comfortable and balanced in the hand, the fork tines and spoon bowls are well shaped for eating (as opposed to just looking pretty), and the design works well across a range of settings. We spent 160 hours researching and testing over 200 individual utensils to find the most balanced options in a variety of styles. The Cambridge Silversmiths Julie Satin Flatware has a simple and understated design with clean lines that most people find appealing. Our testers liked the contrasting finish, with the satin handles gradually giving way to a mirror polish on the utensil heads. If you’d like a heavier set of utensils, we recommend the Crate and Barrel Caesna Flatware, available in both satin and mirror finishes. We like the rounded edges of the handles and the elegant, subtle flare at their base.
When steak—or any serious cut of meat—is on the table, a set of steak knives should be, too. After 40 hours of research, interviews, and testing, we found that the Messermeister Avanta Pakkawood knives were not only beautiful to look at and comfortable to hold but also as high-performing as knives six times their price.
The Messermeisters have a long and upswept blade—the ideal steak knife shape, resulting from centuries of evolution. The length allows the knife to slice through even a thick steak in one stroke, and the upswept tip lets your elbow move up as you slice instead of back, where you might strike your chair or a waiter. Moreover, these knives are extremely sharp, with edges that are evenly ground and finely honed.
The handles are finished with pakkawood—an industry term for resin-impregnated natural wood—instead of the more-common cheap plastic or unfinished wood, making them stronger, more durable, and more stable than other steak knives in their price range. Depending on the size of your family or how frequently you entertain, you may want to register for two sets.
After 60 hours of research, years of long-term testing, and time spent flinging dozens of glasses onto hardwood and marble floors to see which ones could survive the, we’ve decided that the Bormioli Rocco Rock Bar is the best drinking glass you can ask for. It’s a classic, durable glass that’s stackable, dishwasher-safe, and more pleasurable to drink from than anything else we found. Made in Spain, the tempered glass was durable enough to survive our 3-foot drops onto hardwood and marble floors. Multiple sizes, from shot glasses to 22 ounces, are available, and they also come in a variety of colors, including ice, peach, and mint.
These wine glasses are good-looking and well-balanced, and will showcase most wines very well.
The best wine glass for everyday use is the Libbey Signature Kentfield Estate All-Purpose Wine Glass. This inexpensive, tulip-shaped glass ranked among the top stemware chosen by our experts in our blind taste test. It stood out for showcasing the aromas of both red and white wines well. It’s nicely balanced with a thin lip that doesn’t distract from enjoyment of the overall drinking experience. The Libbey glass has a classic look that makes it appropriate for daily use, or for more formal occasions such as dinners and cocktail parties. This glass is durable and practical, and it’s dishwasher-safe.
Though Eric Asimov, wine critic for The New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter), said that the Libbey glass was “a little lippy on top” compared with some of the other glasses we tested, it’s still remarkably thin for such an inexpensive glass. Typically, thinner rims and elongated stems are features we see in glasses costing nearly two or three times as much. If you want more elegant everyday glasses, we recommend several options in our full guide to wine glasses.
A favorite since its introduction more than a century ago, and still the best. It works faster than every other contender and always grinds evenly.
A great pepper mill is a buy-it-for-life kind of item, and after 45 hours of researching pepper mills and testing 16 models, we found that the Peugeot Paris u’Select Pepper Mill is the best pepper mill for most people. Since its introduction in 1874, the Peugeot pepper mill has been a favorite of professional cooks and design enthusiasts alike for its inimitably sharp case-hardened steel grind mechanism and sleek look. Peugeot made the first pepper mill ever, and the company still makes the best. In our testing, this mill ground half a teaspoon of pepper faster than nearly every other contender. The grind mechanism produces even grinds at every level (unlike much of the competition) and comes with a lifetime warranty.
Bed and bath
Save money in the long run with this well-constructed, lofty, 700-fill-power comforter, which has quality stitching and fabric that will last decades.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $510.
If it gets cold enough where you are to merit having down comforters on the beds in your home, they’re the perfect registry investment item. You can find lots of feather-bags out there, but a high-quality comforter weighs no more than a few pounds, warms you evenly, and is constructed well enough to last you for decades, with a warranty to cover it. After performing 85 hours of research and considering 150 products, we found that the Feathered Friends Bavarian Medium 700 Down Comforter is the best investment comforter. It has a loft of about 3 inches but remains incredibly light, so it settles like a layer of cumulus over your bed. The Bavarian Medium 700 is guaranteed to last 30 years, with sewn-through edges that prevent the down from shifting. As of 2015, Feathered Friends is filling its comforters with material that complies with the Responsible Down Standard, and the company provides a website and tracking number through which customers can see the source of their down.
If you’re allergic to down or just don’t like it, try our alternative-material pick from Utopia Bedding. It was soft and warm, it kept its loft nicely, and it didn’t make our testers too hot (an issue with many down-alternative competitors). It’s usually even cheaper than our budget down comforter.
A dream to sleep on: comfortable, breathable, easy to care for, and durable.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $150.
People spend up to a third of their lives sleeping, so you should request a few sets of bedsheets that are comfortable and durable. After more than 100 hours of research and testing, we think that L.L.Bean’s 280-Thread-Count Pima Cotton Percale Sheets can’t be beat. They combine the cool, crisp feel we often look for in sheets with superior sweat wicking, heat retention, and durability.
They’re comfortable and breathable, soft and cool against the skin, and they only get softer over time. In our tests, thanks to their superior extra-long staple cotton, L.L.Bean’s sheets lost the least amount of mass after washings and shrank the least. Durable stitching means these sheets should last a long time, but if they do shrink, tear, or unravel, L.L.Bean’s satisfaction guarantee means you can exchange them at any time. We recommend asking for at least two sets per bed so that you can trade them out on laundry days.
If you prefer the smooth texture of sateen, we recommend the JCPenney Home 400 TC Wrinkle Guard Sheet Set. In our tests for shrinking and durability, these 400-thread-count sheets outperformed all the other sateen sheets, including three new competitors we brought in for our most recent round of testing. Unlike L.L.Bean's sheets, these even come in California King size. Many sateen sheets snag easily because of their weave, but the JCPenney sheets exhibited no wear over the course of two rounds of testing.
A good towel is the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. It’s also a luxury any newlywed couple would be happy to add to their daily routine. The Frontgate Resort Cotton Towel proved to be the most luxurious and soft towel we tested. And after 10 washes, it actually felt better than it did out of the package, which is impressive. There are cheaper towels out there, but if you’re registering for a wedding, you might as well go for the best.
This is a good choice if you prefer a springy towel that’s pleasantly rough and thinner than our top pick.
If you like a rougher towel, or you have a smaller bathroom and want thinner towels, we recommend the Kohl’s Chaps Home Richmond Turkish Cotton Luxury Bath Towel. These towels aren’t meant to be plush like the Frontgate ones—they have a pleasant roughness to them that we think people will enjoy—and they also fold thinner to save more space than our top pick. And because they’re light and compact, they’re easy to tuck into a beach tote or suitcase if you’re traveling.
Electric toothbrushes can’t do anything for your teeth that a regular toothbrush can’t. But what they can do is help to automate your habits and smooth the process of brushing your mouth evenly for the full two minutes necessary to maintain a healthy mouth. After 100 hours of research, we found that the best electric toothbrush is the Oral-B Pro 1000. This brush has a built-in two-minute timer and gives you access to a wide range of brush heads, so you can find one that you like best.
Around the house
Most households need only one vacuum, but we have a handful of picks that address different sizes and types of homes. After putting in 330 hours of research over four years, we’ve found that the best all-around upright vacuum for the average home is the Shark Navigator Lift-Away. The Navigator Lift-Away is an effective, versatile cleaner capable of sucking up most kinds of debris (including pet hair) from bare floors and most carpets, with a lightweight frame, easy handling, and a complete set of attachments that can reach hard-to-clean areas.
The Navigator Lift-Away is built to last. It uses a geared belt, which should last the lifetime of the vacuum. The vacuum’s main pre-motor filter is washable, and the post-motor filter just needs shaking out from time to time. In all likelihood, you won’t have to buy and install new belts or filters as long as you own this vacuum.
If you want the absolute best vacuum you can get, look at one of the models from the Miele C2 or C3 series, such as the Miele Complete C2 Limited Edition. It works well if you have a mix of bare floors and short carpets. It’s the most affordable vacuum in the C2 (or C3) lineup, and it will be as reliable and durable as any of the more-expensive models.
Miele vacuums have stellar reputations for longevity. They are built to last 20 years, according to the company, and they come with seven-year warranties. Brian Driscoll, a vacuum service technician and shop manager known as the Vacuum King of Reddit, told us it’s not uncommon to see 30-year-old Miele models still up and running. If you’re looking for a vacuum that will withstand the challenge of keeping your house clean through a couple of decades, these models are your best options.
Liam McCabe, Wirecutter’s lead editor for appliances, has been lugging a gaggle of vacuums around, even to a new home, for two and a half years, from about the same time he and Natalie got married. “We’re both like clueless city kids who grew up in rental units,” he said. But the more his experience grows, he added, “I feel more empowered to fix stuff when it breaks.” —Liam and Natalie McCabe, married since 2013.
Offering ease of use, great design, and learning capabilities, this thermostat supports a growing number of smart-home devices via the Works With Nest program.
You might never think to put a smart thermostat on a registry, but it can be a fun and useful tool for making any home comfortable. After a month of passively testing the top three thermostats and actively testing for 12 hours, we can say that the third-generation Nest Learning Thermostat is our upgrade pick. The Nest programs itself and learns about you and the thermodynamics of your space, so it knows what temperature your home should be at all times and how long it will take to adjust to warmer or cooler settings during the day or night. If you’d rather set a manual temperature program, the software makes that easy, too. For a pick that works for larger homes, read our full guide.
You’ll use the trash can in your home multiple times every day, so you should ask for the best. After more than 30 hours of research and tests of a dozen finalists, we recommend the 10-gallon (38-liter) simplehuman Rectangular Step Trash Can. It has the best balance of size, shape, features, and durability that we’ve found. It also offers some useful features that the competition lacks, namely a sturdy step, an easily removed liner, and a stay-open switch.
This can, like all simplehuman cans, has a foot pedal that the company designed to withstand 150,000 steps, or 20 steps a day for 20 years. The can opens and closes smoothly and quietly, stays open at the peak, and closes slowly enough for most trash-dropping needs. What’s more, you can keep the lid open with the flick of a switch underneath. This easy-to-clean can also holds smells very well and works with a standard kitchen trash bag.
Whether you’re in a small apartment or a big home, occasionally you’ll need tools to assemble flat-pack furniture or to fix household items, and a $6 IKEA kit won’t cut it. If you’re not ready to start building out a full toolbox, start with a good drill—our top 18-volt pick is the Bosch DDS181-02. Compact and lightweight, this model placed at or near the top in drilling tests among the 10 models we tested.
Fun and games
This spinner carry-on offers the best balance of size, value, reliability, and durability, with high-end details. It’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
For newlyweds who are planning to travel, we’ve found no better carry-on roller bag than the Travelpro Platinum Elite 21″ Expandable Spinner, even after testing 47 bags over the past five years. The Travelpro lets you pack five days’ worth of clothes into the maximum-allowed carry-on dimensions (without resorting to the expansion zipper, which provides an additional 2 inches of depth) and offers many of the premium build-quality touches you’d expect from a $500 suitcase for about half that price. Plus, its lifetime warranty covers airline damage, which is a rarity at any price.
Though the Platinum Elite is similar to the Magna 2 it replaces, it has a smaller stowed handle, an added second zippered exterior pocket, and a USB pass-through extension that lets you insert your own battery pack for charging your phone. It’s also about half a pound lighter at 7.8 pounds. The tie-down straps inside the bag are made of two broad panels with pockets that cinch down; they do a great job of compressing clothes without wrinkling, a problem we encountered in some of the other bags we tested.
The Platinum Elite is also available in a two-wheeled configuration that isn’t as maneuverable but offers slightly more space, a garment folder, and larger, more durable wheels.
Cash as a gift to a new couple is the standard in many cultures, and in our modern times, many couples find that it’s the optimal way to get their footing. Although such gifts are easy enough to do via check or literal cash, a number of online services now promise to make things a little easier, or more visible, if the couple or the gift givers would like that. Some online registries also allow gift givers and couples to peg their cash gifts to goods or experiences such as a honeymoon or a big-ticket item that would be too much for one gift giver to purchase.
Of the registry systems out there, the best one we’ve found after doing seven hours of research and creating many registry accounts is Zola. It does not require a PayPal account, as most do, and it allows you to pay with a credit or debit card instead. Zola does deduct a fee from the transaction, but whereas some services, such as Simple Registry, have fees as high as 5 percent, Zola’s fee is 2.5 percent with no additional expenses at the time of writing. Gift givers can choose to absorb this fee in their gift amount during the transaction.
Zola has a robust interface for setting up group gifts like expensive items or trips. The site uses a bookmarklet that allows users to pull items into their Zola registry from any site with a few clicks; however, they must choose at the time of the transaction whether they want to allow a single buyer to purchase the item directly or to post it as a group gift (meaning the couple will receive the cost of the gift in cash and will have to buy the item themselves later).
The only thing Zola lacks is the ability to pull in existing registries, so if you run across it after you've already combed the catalogs of other stores, you will either have to painstakingly reassemble everything on Zola or keep your registries balkanized and use Zola only for group purchases, cash, or experiences.
If you want to centralize multiple registries, MyRegistry.com allows couples to create regular registries as well as to import their existing registries. The downside of MyRegistry.com is that it has a low transaction fee but hits each guest with an additional handling fee of at least $3.95 for cash gifts, a fact the company keeps separated from the discussion of transaction fees. Because of this extra charge, we don't recommend using MyRegistry.com as a cash registry specifically.
(And one last note: If the couple simply wants cash and doesn't feel the need to paint a picture for guests about how the money will be spent, it is increasingly common to use PayPal directly.)
Everyone loves their personal gadgets and home entertainment systems, but there’s still no substitute for activities that involve only people and no screens. A great board game draws out people’s personalities and preferences, helps new acquaintances get closer, and lets old friends learn even more about one another. We polled our readers and married couples to gather info on the games they return to again and again, and we trawled BoardGameGeek and Amazon for recommendations of great party games.
Dixit is a deceptively simple party game that draws all of its complexity from knowing your opponents. It’s a card-based game similar to Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, but if you don’t like those games, don’t skip this one just yet—Dixit’s concept compensates for a lot of those games’ weaknesses.
The beauty of the game comes out in learning who is literal, who is ironic, who goes for the joke, who notices the smallest details, or who summarizes the broad strokes. Few games rely so much on trying to play the people around you while balancing the unknowns of interpreting art. Dixit is extremely easy to learn, even for children, and it helps you get to know new people and learn more about old friends. Because of the vast number of combinations of cards and people, the game has infinite replay value, but the company also sells several themed expansion packs.
Ticket to Ride is the closest thing we have to a modern-day replacement for the dusty Monopoly box in the closet. Unlike Monopoly, Ticket to Ride is not one of the worst board games ever invented. Everybody stays engaged in a fast-moving, beautifully illustrated, easy-to-learn game that deftly blends strategy and luck. Crucial for entertaining guests is the fact that someone can learn it in 10 minutes, and it takes less than an hour to complete.
Also available are alternative versions with maps of Europe and the Nordic countries in particular (as well as many more maps that require the original game), with slightly more complex rules and options. Any version gives you a great excuse to gather your family and friends and learn how they think.
If you’re looking for something a little less strategic and you want to bring out the competitive edge among your loved ones and friends, I’m the Boss is all about negotiation. In each round of this game, players get a structured deal with a certain amount of money and number of players involved. They then barter with one another based on their positions and their relative power to get the biggest cut they can. As with our capitalist economy, you have few rules in I’m the Boss, and you are mostly limited by your own assertiveness and ambition. What better venue for everyone to test one another and explore their own ability to lean in?
Most outdoor games are just throwing things at other things—cornhole, ladderball—but we decided to go for some activities that involve a bit of strategy.
Most people are familiar with bocce, a game that involves tossing balls underhand at a target ball, scoring each round by however many of one team’s balls are closer to the target than the nearest opposing team’s ball. The similar game petanque still involves throwing balls at a target ball, but players must keep their feet on the ground inside a small circle and can throw the balls however they like (underhand or overhand), and the scoring is a little simpler.
Petanque and bocce sets are similar too, so you can play either game with the same set. The size of the balls can vary in diameter from around 70 millimeters up to 115 millimeters, but the international standard size is a 107-millimeter, 920-gram ball. The Italian-made Perfetta Club Pro Bocce Ball Set is regulation weight and size, with four balls each in green and red, a white target ball, and a small carrying case. The balls have a solid composition, unlike balls in other sets that are made with discarded resin and can chip or roll unevenly. The set also carries a 10-year warranty from the retailer, so if a ball does chip or crack, you can exchange it for a new one for the cost of shipping.
Kubb (pronounced “coob”) is your standard outdoor game of throwing things at other things, but it requires a little more strategy and finesse. It’s portable and easy to set up on any terrain—sand, snow, grass, dirt, pavement—as long as you have enough space. You need at least two people, but you can bring in as many people as you like, and because the game requires some dexterity but not necessarily athleticism, people of varying ability can play. Though there’s no historical basis for the claim, people say that Vikings played this Swedish game, and it is commonly known as “Viking chess.” Here’s a simple breakdown of the rules, and here’s a match played at the 2013 US Kubb National Championship (they warm up for a while, but it starts just shy of the three-minute mark).
The Viking Kubb Game Official Tournament Set is championship-regulation size and made of poplar; it also comes with a travel bag to pack the pieces together. The retailer does not offer a warranty, but the set is just several pieces of wood; used as intended, they should last a lifetime.
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