Wedding Gifts, Breaking & Entering, and Strings

“Listen.  I just went through your wedding registry and it’s all pillow cases and placemats.  And while that’s great you want these things, I refuse to spend my money on any number of the 12 Helena Vanilla Linen Napkins you are requesting.  And while I appreciate the inclusion of a good meat tenderizer among your selections, I also happen to know that your culinary prowess at this juncture is in need of some refining, and that, frankly, you have no idea what a meat tenderizer is.  Because you told me.  These things will come in time, Grasshoppa.  But for now, I want to get you something fun.   One of the three different carafes you have listed do not count.  So, what do you really want that isn’t on your registry?  Or else you’re getting a thumbs up and I’m still gonna eat that salmon Sunday night.”

When Danielle proceeded to tell me that what she really wanted were some bedside lamps, house decorations, patio furniture…I got really excited.  Because hello?!  LIGHTING IS MY LOVE LANGUAGE.  Also hooks.  Also cabinet hardware.  Also white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

So the next time I got a chance to  run away go out, I happily skipped to TJ Maxx.  I am forever gawking at their lamps.  And petting them.  And sighing.  Because I need another lamp like I need a hole in the head so I’m not allowed to actually purchase them.  Yes, I pet them.  Judge me.

But of course, of all the times they have the most swoon worthy lamp choices, their selection was ‘meh’ at best that day.

No problem, I’m resourceful.  Maybe I can find some wall doohicky or something.

Until…I saw it.  All on a shelf, color coordinated and looking so happy:


I texted this picture of my cart to Andy.  “I blew the budget.  A little.”  (Although, actually not by as much as you might think.  Because TJ Maxx.)

I’m not really a thoughtful person so much as sometimes I have good ideas.  Usually I reuse gift bags from five years ago, and don’t even buy you a card.  Actually, I never buy cards.  I find cards to be a giant waste of money.  So please be advised that this is not typical.  Except that I had an idea.  And when I have an idea, I basically can’t sleep until I carry it out.  In fact, I have been known to gift in a Target bag.  And not even one of the nice handled ones you can ask for sometimes.  But straight up the red and white plastic bags.  It’s still a surprise.  Don’t get picky.  I still have the receipt.


So, last Friday, when I knew Uncle Ben was at work, and Miss Danielle was still home in the Bay Area, I broke into their house and set it all up for them.

I stopped at Wal Mart on the way for bags of potting soil and flowers too.  Further blowing my gift budget.  Because empty pots would be anti-climactic.  And that would ruin EVERYTHING.

I taped a little note to the door.  It said “Happy Wedding! We are so happy for you!  But please note that if things ever go south with you two, I am coming back for these items.  Anyone who says that gifts come with no strings attached are lying liars who lie.  So be careful.  Work hard.  You got one shot at this gig.  Also, Danielle, I really like you, but Ben has tenure, so don’t screw this up.”


It said normal, sappy wedding stuff you write in  leftover birthday party invitations wedding cards.


Now, if I was a professional blogger, I would have taken a before picture.  But clearly, I’m not.  Perhaps if I was, I would have even brought my expensive nice camera and taken beautiful, artsy pictures filled with bokeh and just the right appeture settings.

And then I would have come home to create a pinnable graphic with labels like “before” and “after” and a catchy title like “Go from drab to fab with color”.  Or something.

Instead, I delete a few dozen pictures from my iPhone (because I have 7 million photos on there and am out of storage), wait for it to refresh, and then hastily snap a few afters.

If I was a professional blogger, I would have planned ahead and asked TJ Maxx to sponsor this post.

And then I complain that I’m not a blogging millionaire.  And settle for making tens.

photo 3 (27)


But suffice it to say that the patio was looking pretty depressing.  The view directly out the glass door was of the BBQ and a sad, dusty table.  It would have been fancy.  If it belonged to college students.

So I moved stuff around so that my new vignette would be directly visible from inside the house.  Partially because I wanted it to be an obvious surprise when Ben got home from work, but mostly because I’m bossy like that and break into your house and have my way with it.


I was ecstatic when I saw the Adirondack chairs (sitting off to the side all sad and lonely and beige), and I found that little glass table half buried under piles of fire wood and a vast assortment of dog toys on one of the lower decks.  So I hauled it up, grunting and sweating like a moose, but determined to HGTV their patio.  I hope you didn’t have actual plans for that table.  Because I’ve reassigned it.  Also, please spray paint the legs white.  Once you get back from your honeymoon.  Or before.  Whichever.


I 100% almost took that wire basket deal home with me.  They wouldn’t know, right?  Besides, I did blow my budget, so if I keep it, then I technically didn’t…but, I left it.  I’m a giver.


Oh, and Ben &  Danielle? I forgot a shovel.  So I used one of your brand new tablespoons.  I think they are the ones from your Crate & Barrel registry.  For potting soil.  But don’t be appalled.  After all, whoever buys my home will also inherit a full set of Pottery Barn spoons in the Arctic pattern.  Because they’ve been buried somewhere in the side yard because 4 and 6 year olds suck at bringing stuff inside after they’ve panned for gold and such in suburbia. I’m just prepping you guys.  It’s a public service, really.  

Oh, and the pitcher from your brand new blender?  Makes a great watering can.  Which, by the way, you need one.  So pick that up next time you’re out.

Also, that bottle of wine is empty.  I couldn’t afford a full one.  I found it on your dining room table.  Staging required it.  Also, this is why we are friends.  Empty bottles of wine on a Thursday.

Also, I raided your kitchen cabinets because I needed to find some cheap wine glasses.  Again staging.  

And in case you were wondering, I felt totally okay with raiding your cabinets while you were gone.  A) because kitchen cabinets are about the safest cabinets you can raid when you’ve broken into your friends’ house; and B) if I had found something juicy, it would have brought me great joy to regularly look at Ben with a twinkle in my eye that said ‘be nice or I’ll expose your inappropriate ways all over Facebook.’  Come to think of it, that was a missed opportunity.

Also, I hope those wine glasses aren’t antique heirlooms from your great great Italian grandma, because I just totally called them cheap.

Oh, and those little candle things were on a shelf in your living room.  You can put them back.  HGTV calls it “shopping your house”.  I was just doing what the experts tell you to do.


Also, Owen played in a cupboard, half emptied it, and I tried to put everything back, but it was obviously one of those jigsaw puzzle cupboards so you’ll have to fix that.

photo 2 (31)

And I think I saw him playing with your remote control.  Unsure of where that ended up.  Check under the couch.  We almost always find ours there.

And one last thing: the guys that were also at your place cutting the trees?  I think one of them pooped in your bathroom.  He knocked on the door and asked to use your bathroom.  Awkward, yes.  But I wasn’t sure what to say so I said okay.  And then he was in there a really long time.  And then closed the door behind him when he was done.  So, there’s that too.  

So maybe my wedding gift wasn’t 100% perfect.

But better than linen napkins.


Oh, and Macy is 100% the worst guard dog in the history of dogs.


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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

Latest posts by jeannett (see all)


  1. 1
    Victoria says:

    This is awesome. ‘Nuff said! Wedding registries are a joke and they make me bonkers.

  2. 2

    Such a better gift than napkin rings!!! I love it! Wishing I had the budget right now to go to TJ Maxx and pillage that section!

  3. 3

    You’re awesome, Jeannett! Such cool stuff and the staging is beautiful. Best wedding present ever, I’d say.

  4. 4
    Andi T. says:

    I LOVE this!!!! Our closest friends are getting married this fall and I’ve been searching for some good “non-registry” ideas since she is a gift person. Hmmmm….

  5. 5

    Looks awesome!! They will be so surprised and happy!

  6. 6

    that. is. fabulous.

  7. 7
    michelle says:

    not only is the gift awesome but your post may be the best part of the present!
    congrats to your friends!

  8. 8

    What a great gift! I cracked up when you said you aren’t allowed to buy any more lamps and you pet them in the store. I am that way with decorative pillows. We have way more than any family should need. I am drooling over the ones you purchased!

  9. 9

    Awesome blog you have, fun post this was!!

  10. 10
    Deanne Robertson says:

    I think this might be in the top five my favorites posts ever. I just smiled and oohed and ahhed over it all. What a FUN thing to do. I just LOVE it!! I may be stealing this idea myself…..

  11. 11
    Susan says:

    Hilarious! What a wonderful gift. I’m sure your friends were thrilled beyond belief when they were welcomed by your thoughtful and imaginative gift; begone gift registry.

  12. 12

    Love this present! I bet they did too. I’m so glad that you asked the question that you did & ran with it. Want to come to my house? It’s Saturday & that’s a good reason for you to decorate my yard & make it look super beautiful….right??? Great idea & so thoughtful.