January 23, 2013

Wedding Gifts- The Essential Do's and Don't's list

I just got back to Chennai on Sunday after a short visit home. Some of my stuff was still lying at home, and mom wanted me to de-clutter her house (sigh…). But that was not the only agenda. One of my best friends, Nisha, had a baby recently. I was dying to see (and hold, of course) the little munchkin. Both Mommy and Baby Aryan are doing fine.  J Meera flew to the US today, and she’ll be gone for a while. So I had to meet her too. I managed to catch up on two Malayalam movies while there. “Annayum Rasoolum” had great potential to be a good movie, but the dragging narrative and length (three hours) were a major put-off. It was taken in an Adoor style, so most of the movie was silent. The heroine (Andrea Jeremiah’s Malayalam debut) had all of about five dialogues in the entire three-hour movie, Fahad Fasil is just getting better and better with every new film. It’s a clutter-breaking attempt, nevertheless. “Da Thadiya” was a fun watch. Entertaining and paisa-vasool. Oh by the way, Trivandrumites (who are not based in Trivandrum currently), did you know that a ticket at Kalabhavan now is Rs.100?! :O   In Trivandrum! A movie-ticket for 100 bucks! Kaalam povunna pokke… But in their defense, the theatre now has a multiplex-ish look.

But the main agenda for the visit was to sort through the gargantuan pile of wedding gifts that had reduced my room to resembling the store-room of a departmental store. Since we left for Goa right after the reception, and from there to Chennai, I didn’t get a chance to look through the gifts and check what I might want to take with me to Chennai. But Amma and Acha had already gone through them and made an inventory of sorts too (super-efficient parents I have, totally).

I thought they were exaggerating when they told me that we had got a HUGE number of gifts. Only when I saw my room did I realize how true they had been. There were boxes behind the bed, under the bed, on the stool, under the stool, under the computer table, inside shelves. Some had even been kept away in the balcony. And to think that Acha and Amma were just about heaving a sigh of relief at having finally cleared away the collection from Chechi’s wedding (which was four years back, by the way!). I went through the entire pile and picked out a few of the items to take back with me to Chennai. Did that clear up the clutter? Turns out, I had packed merely ten percent of the entire collection. :/ The rest of the stuff, I’ll probably have to get it couriered to Chennai, or my folks can give them away as wedding gifts to others.

But going through the gifts was quite a tiresome job, let me tell you. If you’ve been married, you’ll know that. Tiresome not because of the sheer number, but because of the sheer stupidity in front of you, wrapped in colourful wrapping-paper. Why am I being so ungrateful, you ask? Let me explain why, in the form of a “Do’s and Don’t’s” (Also, I haven’t made one of my lists in a long, long time).

a) If it’s not too much trouble, find out where the newly-marrieds are going to be based after the wedding. If they’re going to be anywhere other than the city where the wedding/reception was held, then kindly do not give any huge gifts that will require a mini-lorry to transport it. I mean, why in the world would I want to carry a giant casserole that can fill enough food to feed the half of Chennai?! Forget why. HOW! How in the world am I supposed to transport it?

b) Give a little bit of thought into buying the gift. I’m sure this is probably the fifth wedding that you’ve had to attend this month and you’re just about tired of thinking of what to buy. But here’s the thing. For me, this is my FIRST and only (yes, I’m pretty sure of it.. I think so) wedding. And I’m not going to get another chance to get a haul like this again (Yup, I’m totally aware of how shallow that sounded). So PLEASE, kindly, put some thought into buying the gift. It doesn’t have to be anything big or expensive. Trust me, even 100 bucks in an envelope is more useful than that eyesore of a lemon set (for the uninitiated, a lemon set consists of six glasses and a matching jug, more often than not in tacky designs and colours).

c) Try to give something different. You really think no one else would have come up with the brainwave of giving a set of casseroles or coffee mugs? It’s not because we want something different. It’s just that we get stuck with multiple sets of the same damn thing, and we don’t know what to do with them! Give a pack of condoms, if you can’t think of anything else! (Nope, no one gave us that. Hmph).

d) For heaven’s sake, please write your name SOMEWHERE while giving the gift. We smile at and accept gifts from roughly 800 guests at the wedding. After a point of time, it’s just faces, one after the other. So among all this, how do you think we’re going to remember what gift you gave, if you don’t write your name on it? If you don’t want us to know, then that’s a different story. But don’t you think we would want to know who the anonymous well-wisher is, who gave us 1000 bucks?   
Another reason why writing your name is important: There are 90% chances that your gift might get rewrapped very soon and be given to someone else. Writing your name ensures that you don’t end up getting your same gift back. Also, if you’ve given something really nice, but haven’t written your name, and it’s time for us to return the favour at some occasion, then we might just end up giving you something that’s worth a lot less than what you spent on us. Then you’ll be all “Hmph, what people yaar. We gave them a La Opala coffee set. They only gave us a Yera set. How mean.”You get what I’m trying to say?

e) If you really can’t think of what to give, then don’t give anything at all. Seriously. It’s perfectly fine. The line at the very bottom of the invitation card “Presents in blessings only” was not put there as a formality. It was put there for a reason. But no one takes that seriously. According to my dad, people get offended if we include that line in the card, and don’t turn up for the wedding at all, because they don’t like to come empty-handed. So he decided not to include that in my invitation card.

f)       f) If the bride or the groom is someone you’re close to, ask them what they want as a gift. I shamelessly told my friends that I want a hard disk, so they gave me the cash for that. To some others, I asked for bed-sheets, so I got some beautiful bed-sheet sets. To another friend, I told her to get me online shopping vouchers, so that I could get to Chennai and then buy whatever I wanted and it could be shipped there directly.

      g) Give gift vouvhers. They’re easy, convenient, and useful.
      h) Give cash.
      i) Give cash.
      j) Give cash.
            k)  And because I can’t stress enough on it, give cash. Even if it just a 100 bucks.

Änd to all those who’re by now thinking “Why so much tension? We’ll just write off ‘Kindly avoid presents’ in the invitation card. That’ll take care of the problem, no?”- Sure, go ahead. Let me know how that worked out for you, ok? Because we Indians are experts at ignoring instructions. “Kindly avoid gifts” is a popularly ignored request, along with “Please flush the toilet after use”, “Please use the dustbin to throw garbage”, “Do not spit on the walls” etc.

Do you have anything more to add to this list?       

P.S:- Aditi and Sid, I do not include your gift among any of the above-mentioned. I absolutely loved it, and look forward to using them ASAP. :)