Theoretically, wedding gifts are not gender-specific. Wedding registries are supposed to be filled with things the new couple needs to complete their household, hence the traditional presents, like dishes, blenders (and other small kitchen appliances), linens, and cutlery. Gifts for bridal showers, on the other hand, tend to be more feminine as they're for the bride, specifically.
But lately, traditional bridal showers are being replaced with co-ed wedding showers that include both the bride and groom, as well as a co-ed contingent of guests. Why the shift? Probably because grooms are far more involved in the wedding planning than they have ever been in the past, and they want to be a part of the pre-wedding festivities. And because married couples like to give showers for their engaged-couple friends together.
Co-ed showers are usually in the evening, and typically have a lot more cocktail-ing than at a bridal shower. And because the focus is on the bride AND the groom, a little more creativity is required when selecting gifts. Instead of going straight off the registry, or handing the couple a gift card, consider being more creative.
Bar and Entertainment Accessories
These are always a hit for a co-ed shower. It's an opportunity give brides and grooms higher-end items than they probably wouldn't buy for themselves. I absolutely love the cutting boards, fancy muddlers, and serving trays from The Wooden Palate. Their coasters made from the old Atlantic City Boardwalk are gorgeous. You can personalize barware for the couple, with monograms on glasses and cocktail napkins. Or get even more creative with monogrammed whiskey rocks that display their wedding date from The Ultimate Man Shop.
Outdoor Activity Kits
These are the modern take on giving the traditional picnic basket as a gift. Start with a compact, but high-end, cooler that has slots for wine bottles, in addition to room for food and other beverages. Bed, Bath & Beyond has a selection of options for every budget and style. Pockets for utensils and paper products are a plus, and giving the gift stuffed full of things to use makes it twice as nice. If it comes with picnic accessories, fill the empty spaces with wine, crackers, and other non-perishable gourmet items.
For a couple who likes the beach, a wheeled cart designed to hold their beach chairs, cooler, umbrella, and beach bags is a huge hit. Personalize it with some luxurious monogrammed beach towels from Advantage Bridal, sporting the soon-to-be-married couple's new initials.
For the couple who has everything, HIS and HERS "go-bags" or "bug out" bags are a new thing. Everybody is supposed to have a "go-bag" packed and ready to take out the door in case you have to evacuate. Following guidance from a reputable source such as The Survivalist Blog, fill up color-coded backpacks with some of the essentials. Create a checklist of what-all should be in each bag, mark what you've provided, and put the list in a card with a note of explanation so the couple can complete it themselves.
*Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events and author of * How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show Wedding Island, about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques.