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It’s nice to think a wedding gift might hold the same potential for permanence as a marriage. In our break-and-replace society, this notion is challenging at best. However, if carefully considered, the items on your bridal registry will put you on course for building a practical and enduring domestic armory. We’re not just talking housewares. We’re talking tools for life.


When considering plug-in appliances, avoid bells and whistles. The more jobs a device has, the more likely it will break. Try and find non-powered alternatives — like a cast iron panini press or a stovetop espresso maker — in lieu of a transitory electric contraption.

A friend recently said, “You can buy it four times or you can buy it once.” While some items may be more expensive at the outset, if you’re still using it 25 or 30 years from now, you’re getting more value over the long term. Encourage friends and family to go in on gifts together if the price tag of an item is high.

Here’s a list of what lasts:

Kitchen Knives

Instead of a mediocre kitchen knife set, why not hand-select a few dream knives that you’ll use on the regular? Start with a chopping or chef’s knife, a small paring knife, a serrated bread knife and a long, thin carving knife. On your search, consider the heft and balance of the knife in your hand. Look for high-carbon stainless steel blades that can be sharpened. Recommended brands are Wusthof, Shun and Mundail. A knife block or magnetic wall holder and sharpening steel are useful add-on items.

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Blankets

Garnet Hill’s cotton fleece blankets from Germany are a quality, no-nonsense bedding basic. And they’re awesome. Washable, these blankets really do maintain their color, softness and heft over the years.

Table Linens

In the interest of presentation and saving the planet, you can’t go wrong with cloth napkins. Stick with cotton or linen for longevity. Avoid synthetic fabric blends. Start with a set of 12 solids of one color, or mix and match with three sets of four solids. No holiday-themed napkins, please.

Wool Area Rug

A good quality rug can be passed down through generations and grounds a room like nothing else. More durable than synthetic options, wool is a resilient and sustainable material.

Felco 8 Pruner

I love my Felco pruners in a way a person shouldn’t love a gardening tool. Whether you’re pruning your weigela or cutting the stems from a floral bouquet, you’re gonna need these. With a little oil and periodic sharpening, they’ll be yours for life. Felcostore.com sells spare parts should you ever need to repair them.

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Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls

These are really heard to break, reasonably priced and, frankly, a kitchen is naked without them. Mixing bowls tend to come in sets but you’d rarely need more than three in varying sizes.

The Joy of Cooking

Irma S. Rombauer’s cookbook holds desert-island status for me. Originally published in 1931 and most recently updated in 2006, Joy is a timeless foundation for your cookbook library.

Set of Basic Kitchen Tools

My mother-in-law still uses the potato masher she received as a wedding gift 52 years ago. She’s British, and Brits like a potato, so that’s saying something. I would suggest choosing a stainless steel set with a wood handles rather than plastic, nylon or silicone. Ours came with a little rack for hanging, which frees up counter space.

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Lodge Cast Iron Skillet

The 13.25-inch size is perfect. Tended to like a family pet, ours lives on the stove always.

Pots & Pans

Why not go a la carte? Fewer, better pans are a more sensible option than a big set. Select four or five appealing sizes from a high quality line like All-Clad or Calphalon. Again, avoid non-stick coatings. Stainless steel with an aluminum or copper core is best.

Nags Head Hammock

There’s no better way to lounge en plein air. If the trees in your garden are too small or are not configured to support a hammock, you can get a stand that is suitably portable for your more transient life chapters. Store indoors during the winter months and you’ll be reclining happily for years to come.

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Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

These suckers are bullet-proof. Good for casseroles, stews, slow roasts; think of it as a crock pot for your oven. The best starter size for two is the 3.5-quart oval. The 5.5-quart round might prove more useful if you’re blending families. Le Creuset’s stoneware roasting pans are indispensable as well.

Carbon Steel Flat Bottom Wok

Not just for stir-fry, woks are great for whipping up curries, pasta sauces and soups. If seasoned and cared for properly, a good wok will last a lifetime. I would hesitate to go for the nonstick option due to scratching and toxicity concerns. Look for a wok with a sturdy metal or wood handle.

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National Geographic Atlas of the World

This massive, hard-cover book is way better than Google Earth. Plonk it down on the table in the middle of a dinner party and see what happens.

Large Glazed Ceramic Planter

Even if you’re not a big gardener, nestle one of these on your deck and it will anchor your house with a fat splash of color. Bonus: You can take it with you when you move. A Japanese maple or other slow-growing tree for your pot would be a nice gift addition.
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Amy Barnes

Amy Barnes

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