Is It Rude to Buy Gifts That Aren’t on the Registry?

Oh, it’s summertime, the time for bridal showers, engagement parties, weddings, and even a few baby showers. Over the years, I’ve attended many weddings and showers where gift registries have run the gamut from ridiculously expensive to downright cheap.

One bride I know registered at both Bloomingdale’s and Target. She thought wealthier guests would purchase from the upscale registry while less well-off friends and family could shop at Target. 

Interestingly, most of the bride’s more affluent guests provided cash gifts. The remaining guests purchased off the Target registry or went off the list. Very few bought items off Bloomingdale’s list.

Is It Rude to Buy a Gift Not on the Registry?

Some people think you should always purchase off the registry, some think it’s okay to venture elsewhere, and others never pick something off the list.

Some folks, like my grandmother, absolutely hate to purchase from a registry because “it takes the fun out of shopping for someone you love.” Others don’t want the bride and groom or parents-to-be to know how much they paid for a gift.

Some guests might find a present they can’t resist buying, while others might realize they can’t afford the remaining items on the list.

Keep in mind that older generations may struggle to use a digital gift registry or choose to provide a gift with a personal touch. When I got married, my grandmother didn’t want to buy towels or sheets; she chose to give me a lasting gift I would treasure for life.

Do You Have to Buy Off the Registry?

I have a love-hate relationship with registries. On the one hand, I think registries are a great way to tell family and friends what you want. On the other hand, I think the major chain stores that offer registries overcharge for merchandise.

An expecting friend recently registered for a whole host of baby furniture from a chain store. A simple google search revealed much lower prices at brick-and-mortar and online shops. Within minutes I found lower prices for nine of the first ten items on her list. Sometimes, I found the same item for less than 50% of the registry price.

My friend knows I’m a frugal fanatic, so I sent her links to cribs, bassinets, high chairs, and baby furniture. She was so excited to find cheaper alternatives that she removed the items from her original registry and created a new list.

So what do you think? Do you choose items on the registry or go off the list?

Do you ever buy something that isn’t on the list, and if so, do you have rules for those purchases? In essence, do you think it’s ever okay to buy gifts that aren’t on the list? If so, has anyone ever told you they don’t like your gift or, worse yet, told you it was a thoughtless gift?

5 thoughts on “Is It Rude to Buy Gifts That Aren’t on the Registry?”

  1. I'm puting together a baby registry and it's very hard. We got a bunch of clothes, diapers (cloth) and furniture from people we know so we really don't need anything except a few big ticket items (carseat, pump, carrier). I've been telling people who ask to just get something cute but I think I might start telling them to get us picture books.

    I think it's ok to get things not on a list but you have to look at the list first and see if it's something they would want. If they didn't register for a coffee maker, don't get them one but if they did, getting them a nicer one might be ok.

  2. I'm conflicted on this, so I think it depends. If you know a person and their taste VERY well, then it's okay to purchase items that aren't on the registry. If you don't, then please, please stick with the registry! When my husband and I got married, we got lots of gifts that weren't on our registry. Some were wonderful (from people who knew us well) and others were just…well…ugly. 🙂

  3. I have a hate-hate relationship with gift registries. But with that said, I do purchase things off the registries if I don't know the recipient that well. If it's someone I know well, I usually give a handmade gift (either made by me, or from Etsy). I have never registered for anything in my life, and refused to allow anyone to host a bridal shower or baby shower for me. When I graduated from high school and college, I didn't send announcements, because let's face it – those are pretty much just requests for gifts, especially for people you know won't be able to attend. I can't stand the idea that gifts are something to expect. I believe that having a baby or getting married or graduating is a gift in and of itself, and to expect people to give you things just because of these occasions is crazy. BUT, I love to give gifts, and I always do so when one of my friends gets married, has a baby, or a birthday, etc. I just think it's important to keep in mind that gifts are ALWAYS a privilege and not a right.
    Ok, stepping down off of my soapbox 🙂

  4. Gifts are meant to be given from the heart, not from a list of pre-planned, overpriced, no-thought-required, made in china crap. Just my humble opinion, ha ha.

    Seriously – a cousin by marriage was having a girl (pre-named Mya, isn't that sweet?) and the shower invites read "Mya has already received plenty of handmade blankets, etc. Mya's Mommy is registered for items she needs at Macy's…"

    What a crock – many of our older relatives celebrate a new baby by creating a handmade blanket, dress, or other creative item.

    Shame on Mya's no-couth Mommy for discouraging those relatives from creating their gift, rather than purchasing it.

    Of course, I got Mya a beautiful crocheted blanket as a gift. LOL
    Don't tell ME what to buy as a gift…

  5. I love the notion that many of you voiced… a gift, is a gift no matter what and that no gifts should be expected.


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