Wedding season unofficially kicks off this month, and with more and more states deeming same-sex marriages legal you’re bound to receive an invitation to your friends’ fabulous nuptials any minute. And that means you’ll need to buy a gift. Instead of sticking to the registry, however – do they really need more stuff? – think outside the Crate and Barrel box and opt for a practical-but-still-thoughtful present that the happy couple can put to good use. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
1. Date-Planning Subscription
Date-planning services – like HowAboutWe Couples and Kahnoodle Concierge – are tricky because they often only serve a limited area (New York City for the former; San Francisco and D.C. for the latter), but you may be able to find a similar concept in the area in which your newlywed friends live. Date options run the gamut of uncommon experiences like ring-smithing classes, fencing lessons and body-painting sessions to more tame outings like comedy shows and wine tastings. To help keep the first year of marriage fresh and fun for your friends, gift a year subscription to one of these services so the pair can enjoy quality time together while participating in an activity they may never have thought of themselves.
2. Moving Crew
Remember the last time you moved and you swore you’d never do it again without the help of (preferably hard-bodied, shirtless) movers? If your just-married pals are relocating soon, do them a solid and hire the same for them. Granted, this can be quite pricey, so if you can’t afford to hire several hours of full-service moving, get your best group of gays to commit to helping the couple start anew. The only cost of going this route is time and energy, plus you’ll get in a great workout without having to go to the gym.
3. Dance Classes
If the two who are saying “I do” have four left feet, present them with a pre-wedding gift of dancing lessons. Attending several sessions a few months before the wedding will give the rug-cutting duo more confidence on the dance floor when they take center stage as husbands or wives for the first time. This comes with an additional cost, however: It will also be your responsibility to stay alert throughout the night so you can simmer ’em down when they start to get too jiggy with it after the fourth or fifth celebratory cocktail. Just wait; it’ll happen.
4. Home Repair Supplies
Home repairs (even small ones) start to add up quickly – especially if you have to hire someone to do them for you. To help alleviate this necessity and the cost associated with it, surprise the lawfully wedded with a hodgepodge of tools and other household must-haves given in a nice toolbox for convenient and aesthetically pleasing storage. Another helpful around-the-house idea is to gift painting essentials – trays, rollers, brushes and drop cloths – with a gift certificate to a nearby hardware store so they can choose their favorite colors to freshen up their home.
5. Cooking Lessons
Cooking isn’t everyone’s favorite hobby (in most cases because they don’t know how to do it well, so they avoid it), but it’s one of those few daily opportunities of which spouses can take advantage to grow closer by creating something they’ll both savor. If your friends aren’t exactly kitchen savvy, introduce them to the wonderful world of from-scratch satisfaction with cooking lessons. Private lessons can be held in their home, or you can find a local establishment that offers lessons. The latter will be much less expensive than the former, and it’ll give your friends an opportunity to mix and mingle with other couples with whom they have something in common.
6. Home-Brewed Craft Beer
If your pals are known beer lovers, add a personal touch to one of their favorite beverages by brewing a case of homemade suds. To add even more flair, dress the bottles with custom labels that you can order online that celebrates their wedding day. The recipients will enjoy kicking back and relaxing with what you’ve made exclusively for them, and they’ll likely think fondly of your creativity and care every time they crack off a cap.
7. HitchSwitch Gift Card
It’s not as common in gay marriages as it is in straight unions for one partner to change their last name to the other partner’s, but plenty of LGBT couples are traditionalists – and more power to them. To make the name-changing process stress free, set them up with HitchSwitch, an online name-changing service that removes all the hassle of assembling, filling out and filing forms for just $50. True, it’s not a super exciting gift, but it’s one less thing they’ll have to worry about as they start their new life together – and they’ll appreciate that sentiment very much.
8. Frisque Gay Box Membership
There are numerous sex-toy subscription services available these days, but most of them cater to the hetero crowd. Enter Frisque Box, a sensual subscription service that caters specifically to gay and lesbian couples. Boxes filled with bedroom toys and other pleasure products to keep the spark flickering and frolicsome are sent bimonthly, discreetly to their doorstep, for $55 per cycle. If you don’t want to commit to a year’s worth of service, there’s also a Frisque Honeymoon Box, which is a one-time only purchase.
9. Deep Cleaning Service
We gays like to keep a clean house (most of us anyway), and while weekly spot cleaning is a breeze, the twice-yearly deep clean is a burden. Help ease it for your freshly married friends – who should be spending their first year having fun under the sheets instead of sweeping behind the stove – by surprising them with several hours of cleaning services scheduled for the beginning of spring and fall.
10. Language-Learning Software
One of the advantages of your friends being gay and bound by marital law is that they’re likely a DINK (Dual Income No Kids) couple that has money to burn. (No offense to all you gay parents out there, of course, but your days of jet-setting are over for a while.) Thus, they have the incredible opportunity to see the world at their leisure if they’re savvy savers. You can help make their vacation even more enriching and fulfilling by gifting them language-learning software. If you know them well, you probably know which language to choose; if not, pry for some information. The beauty of language-learning software – besides becoming part of an entire population of people with whom they can now converse – is that it’s conducive to couples using it together, which will help fortify their relationship even more.
Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and blogger whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world, including CNN.com, The Huffington Post, The Advocate, Instinct magazine and Out.com, among many others. He lives in Manhattan with his husband and their cuddle-buddy furbaby. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.