Sept. 22 2010 10:21 AM

Where to find creative gifts for newlyweds in San Diego

Wine Steals' Cardiff location
I have the best of intentions. When I get a wedding invite, I always look up the registry and think about what to get the happy couple. It's one of the only times in our adult lives that it's socially acceptable to be greedy, and I want to see what other people want when they're given permission to post their desires online. But then, as happens with everything in my life, all I do is think, and I forget to actually buy. That is, until maybe two days before the actual wedding date. And while Ms. Post says it's fine to turn in gifts after the fact, all that's left on the registry by that late date is something such as a lonely spatula and maybe a $470 bread machine.

So, I've devised a list of unlisted gifts that are (mostly) desirable and creative. I characterize the couple into totally meaningless and clichéd categories and go from there.

For the couple who drink. A lot: This is the easiest and my most favorite wedding gift, as so many of my friends know first-hand. I go to San Diego Wine Company (7080 Miramar Road, Suite 100, Mira Mesa, and buy a case of wine. Not the same wine; I buy an assortment of styles and vintages and regions and appellations and all those wine words I don't understand (I ask for help, and I get it there).

Other stores around town will pack up wine in a gift-y way, although they seem to universally go for the basket as the method of transportation. Skip the basket and go for the cardboard case. It looks like you got them more, and the basket is just gonna end up in the garage anyway. Wine Steals (, with four locations around the county, is another place to hit up if Mira Mesa seems too far away (it's not.) Yes, it can be pricey (a case is 12 bottles, multiplied by at least $10—but certainly you could go for a half case). Either way, it's an instant wine collection for the entertaining (or just plain drinking) couple.

For the sentimental couple: Very few couples at this stage of their relationship are not sentimental, so this is sort of a universal gift. And while some say gift certificates are copouts, I disagree. Particularly when getting said gift certificates are from The Frame Maker (3102 Reynard Way, Mission Hills, This is custom art framing done with care and skill and artisanship, and it's special, dammit. These frames aren't just about being useful; they're also about highlighting a piece of art and protecting it for eons—and that comes at a cost ($125 to $400 and beyond). But once the happy couple's event is said and done, there will be a beautiful, in-their-eyes-art-worthy picture that will need to be framed. Need I say more?

For the pragmatic couple. I know the art of letterwriting is almost dead, and most of us pay bills online, but I refuse to give up on traditional mail. Maybe you know a couple who feel the same. For them, I present you with a wholly personalized and very practical gift: The returnaddress rubber stamp. I know it doesn't sound sexy, but give it a chance. Type out their name (and find out if the missus is changing hers), address and make it the size you think is appropriate for a return-address label, then pick a font that fits their personality (FYI, comic sans never works), and then print it out. Take this print to the California Stamp Company (1492 Fifth Ave., Downtown, You can buy a rubber-stamp pad when you pick up your stamp two days later. The stamp will run you well under 20 bucks. At the very least, they can use it when they send out thank-you cards.

Finally, when all else fails, I go for the somewhatclassless—yet always appreciated—cash route. I've been known to forgo the envelope and just shove it in the groom's pocket. Sure, the couple know how much you spent, but remember, they know that too when you buy from their registry.

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