Help your newly married friends feel like they're still on their honeymoon with truly luxurious sheets and pillows. They'll make the bed a relaxing and decadent place to be. Choose sheets with an absurdly high thread count, and a smooth finish. Include a note that says, "May all your dreams together come true," or be a bit more spicy and write, "Here's to many happy hours spent together in bed."
For a more creative and personal touch, include some family baking recipes. If the couple already has the mixer, the pasta roller attachment is phenomenal for making fresh pasta a regular event rather than a special chore. Other attachments include the ice cream maker, a meat grinder, and a citrus juicer.
A Year of Special DatesOne of the best pieces of marriage advice we know is, "Never stop going on dates together, and treating each other like a king or queen." Help them keep the spark alive, by helping them go on dates during their first year of marriage. Give 3 to 4 pairs of tickets for something the couple enjoys doing together, such as baseball tickets, a new play series at the local theater, or even tickets to the drive-in movie theater. For a diverse couple, mix and match, and introduce them to new experiences. Include a note with the above marriage advice for dating each other long after the wedding day.
After the honeymoon's over, they'll have returned home to work, and errands, and bills. Take them back to their honeymoon with a gift basket of regional flavors. Many specialty stores will work with you to create a basket of foods from a specific country. Pictured is a Spanish basket from La Tienda. Try Murray's Carribbean for Island treats, or Zingermans for gifts from Provence or Tuscany. Islander Gifts brings home Hawaii, and Cajun Grocer has the flavors of New Orleans. For other US regional food shops, check out the Google directory.
If you don't have a reliable wine store near you, try Wineexpress.com's Cellar Starter, which includes 24 bottles, some to drink now and some to cellar for later.
A Spicy Wedding
Food experts recommend replacing your spices annually. So a wedding gift of gourmet and specialty spices will help start them off on the right foot. Penzey's spices, one of my favorite mail-order sources, offers a "Spicy Wedding" gift box, ($39.19) which includes rubs and spices, nestled in bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. The deluxe version for $67.29 also includes a pepper mill and salt shaker. Or, go for the gusto with a big gift crate of 20 spices, the peppermill, and salt shaker.
Head Out for AdventurePeople who'd rather spend their time outdoors are generally bored by typical wedding gifts of china and kitchen gear. So help them out by skipping the big department stores housewares departments, and head straight for the camping gear. Get them a new tent with a tag that says, "Here's to nights under the stars together!" A camping stove is a useful item that many people would like to have, but haven't yet invested in.
If your adventurers are less inclined to sleep under the stars in favor of sleeping in a 4-star, you can still encourage their spirit. Opt for matching his n' hers passport cases, or a new piece of luggage. After all, what is marriage but a grand adventure?
Breakfast in Bed
Scrap it TogetherMany brides aim to create a wedding scrapbook, but afterwards they're exhausted and busy with endless thank you notes. So give the wedding gift of memories. Collect their wedding invitation, save-the-date, and any mementos from the wedding itself such as the menu or favor packaging. Add in your photos from the wedding, or ones from when they were dating. Make a basic scrapbook, and include extra pages so they can add to it.
Not the crafty type? Give a gift certificate to create a custom photo book at Blurb.com
A friend did a version of this for my wedding, calling it "Nina and Mickey's Marital Bliss Recipe Book." It included pictures of the two of us, and poems, advice, and thoughts on marriage. It's one of my most treasured gifts.