When shopping for the perfect bridal shower gift, determine if the bride has a registry listing the gifts she hopes to get. Failing that, it's standard practice to buy something the bride -- or the couple, for a couple's shower -- can use around the home or that caters to areas of interest. Avoid overspending on the shower gift as you still need to buy something for the wedding.
Buy From the Registry
If the bridal shower invitation includes information about the couple's wedding registry, the registry should be your first stop. The purpose of a bridal shower is to give gifts to the bride-to-be or the couple, so using the registry increases the odds of the recipient enjoying your gift. If you can't make up your mind, a gift card for the registry store helps the couple buy needed items, and money is a traditional gift for a shower.
Go Traditional or Contemporary
In the event the couple hasn't registered or you can't decide on something from the registry, the norm for bridal showers is to give a gift related to the home. Wedding-planning site "the knot" recommends traditional shower gifts such as champagne glasses, bedding and kitchen appliances or contemporary gifts such as luggage, a spa gift card or theater passes. It's also appropriate to buy gifts related to the bride's or couple's interests. For example, buy a tent or some camping gear for a couple that loves the outdoors. Spicy gift ideas, such as lingerie, are common at bridal showers -- just don't give anything too inappropriate as the bride-to-be opens gifts in front of a group and might be embarrassed.
Set Your Budget
Because it's proper etiquette to give a shower gift and a wedding gift, plan ahead so the shower gift doesn't cause you to blow your budget. The knot recommends the wedding gift take up most of your budget, at around 60 percent. The shower gift should account for 20 percent of the total budget. If you've given an engagement gift, it should take up the other 20 percent.
Wrap and Identify Your Gift
Part of the spectacle of attending a bridal shower is seeing the bride-to-be surrounded with beautifully wrapped gifts, so take care to ensure your contribution stands out for the right reasons. Wrap and decorate your gift tastefully and include a shower card in which you share your best wishes for the bride-to-be. The card serves a dual purpose; at showers, the maid of honor tracks who gave what, and the card creates a link between your gift and you so the bride-to-be can thank you in writing at a later date.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.