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Buying Guide

Bedroom

Bedding

You can either register for an entire bedding collection, which will have everything pre-coordinated, or you can choose individual pieces and mix and match to create your own set. In either case, you will want to look at a number of factors that indicate the quality of the sheet. Also, don't forget to register for other bedding and bedroom essentials like mattress pads and toppers, pillows, curtains, blankets, and bed skirts.

Below are some things to keep in mind when shopping for bedding:

Thread count: Thread count is the number of threads per square inch of fabric. A thread count of 300 is a good standard, but a count of 400 will be much softer. Many times the higher the thread count, the softer the fabric will be, but the construction of the thread count is just as important.

Yarn Size: The yarn size or the fineness of each yarn will also determine if the sheets are high quality. The finer the yarn, the higher the yarn size will be and thus the higher the quality of the fabric because more yarns can be woven into each square inch. Yarn size should usually be between 50 and 100.

Fiber Quality: Obviously, 100% fabrics will be of a better quality than blends, but the length of the cotton staple, or length of the cotton fiber, will create stronger and better-quality yarns.

Egyptian cotton is cotton harvested from the Nile Valley and has an extra long staple giving it an extra soft, luxurious feel.

Pima is long, plush, high quality cotton that is usually made in the United States. Supima is a trademark name for 100% pima cotton grown in the U.S.

Upland cotton is usually made of short or medium staple cotton.

Modal is a trademarked brand of rayon-like fiber made from beech wood cellulose. It is smooth and twice as absorbent as cotton.

Polyester/Cotton is a blend that is wrinkle-resistant.

Organic cotton is made from natural fibers and is pesticide-free.

Finishing: To protect and strengthen the fabric, it needs to be finished. The singeing process will burn the extra fuzz off the fabric so that it doesn't build up on the fabric later. A mercerizing treatment can be done with chemicals to increase the strength and shine of the fabric. Sanforization treatments pre-shrink the fabric and durable press reduces wrinkling.

Pillows

To complement your new bedding collection, you'll need to register for new pillows. These days there are quite a few choices in pillow fills as well as size, firmness, and fabric. As you contemplate how you want to rest your head, keep these points in mind about pillow fill material:

Down: These pillows, which are filled with very small goose or duck feathers, have long been considered the best in natural fills because of how soft and fluffy they are. White goose down is the best material to use in natural down pillows, but all natural down pillows require fluffing regularly and, depending on the quality of the fabric, may loose feathers.

Feather: These are filled with larger goose or duck feathers and are firmer causing the pillow to maintain its shape better than down.

Synthetic Down: Usually made of polyester, these pillows have the characteristics of natural down pillows of non-allergenic material.

Memory Foam: This durable material conforms to your body providing great support and comfort. Foam pillows are also hypoallergenic.

Buckwheat Hulls: This material is made from the husks of the buckwheat kernel and conforms to your head and neck reducing stress on pressure points. They are also resistant to dust mites and other allergens.

Bedroom Decor

Depending on what your decor needs are, you may want to register for larger items for those guests who want to spend a little more on you. Although you can register for a bed frame, headboard, dresser, and so forth, you can also just register for smaller bedroom decor items like nightstands, lamps, rugs, curtains, wall art, decorative pillows, and organizers. These items can add up quickly if you buy them on your own and can make nice gift ideas for guests who shy away from the traditional bath or kitchen gifts. Remember to leave most of the bright patterns or colors to accent furniture or accessories so you can quickly and inexpensively change the look of your room just by changing accent pieces.

Bathroom

For bathroom linens, remember to register linens for both your master bathroom and each guest bathroom in your house. Although there may be patterns or collections that you want for your master bath, it would also be good to choose a few basic for either bathroom. Counting about 3 of each towel for you and your spouse, 6 bath towels, 6 hand towel, and 6 wash cloths, for your master bath and 4 of each towel for your guest bathroom will be a good average to register. Also, think ahead to how many overnight guests you anticipate entertaining on a regular basis, and adjust your towel count slightly for them. Pay attention to the quality and type of material of the towel when you register. Towels with higher counts of loops per square inch will be thicker, more absorbent, and thus a better quality towel. Terrycloth has an additional warp of fabric on top to make it softer and more absorbent.

For the bathroom decor, think about the mood you want your bathroom to have, whether bold and energetic, romantic and thoughtful, urban and artistic, or natural and serene. Then think about the little accessories that will make your bathroom come together and reflect your own personality.

Registering for personal care items is a good idea whether you need other bathroom decor items or not. Even a showerhead or other hardware such as decorative toilet paper holders, hand towel stands or a scale can make great practical gifts.

These are some of the different types of materials used to make towels:

Egyptian Cotton

Towels made from Egyptian cotton are some of the most luxurious towels ever made and unusually have extra long cotton staples, which is the cotton fiber's length and fineness. Fabrics made with longer staples are of a higher quality.

Upland Cotton

Most cotton grown in America is upland cotton. Upland cotton has a short or medium staple.

Microfiber

Microfiber is a lightweight synthetic fiber blend of rayon, acrylic, nylon, or polyester. They are soft and very absorbent. They are often considered ideal for travel.

Kitchen

Cookware

When registering for cookware, keep in mind your own cooking style and what needs that style will dictate. If you love to cook, you may want to register for some professional-grade cookware pieces, but if your idea of cooking is a microwave dinner, you may want to register for more easy-care cookware and appliances. Whether you're a chef or not, you should register for not only a basic cookware set, but also some supplemental pieces to make sure you have all the equipment you'll need for any occasion.

Also, don't forget to register for creative cookware like a pizza pan or a wok for nights when you want to experiment with your cooking.

Mix and match your cookware materials so you always have the right tools. In choosing the material for your cookware, keep this in mind:

Copper: Copper is great for gas stoves because it is highly conductive and is sensitive to heat changes, but it is also more susceptible to scratches and must be polished often.

Cast Iron: Cast iron is great for frying and baking because it distributes heat well and is durable, but it is also heavy and slow to heat. Enameled cast iron is another option and is non-reactive, stick, and scratch resistant.

Stainless Steel: This is a very durable and easy to maintain cookware because it's even dishwasher safe, but stainless steel doesn't distribute heat well. An aluminum or copper base and nonstick surface will help the pan transmit heat better.

Hard Anodized Aluminum: This cookware is crack resistant and offers great conductivity, and easy maintenance. It is also non-reactive and lightweight.

Cutlery

If you or your spouse cooks at all, you will be using knives practically every day. So register for a set that's above the ordinary grade of knives but still won't break your guests' pocketbook. Knives are generally made from either carbon steel, stainless steel, laminated, or ceramic.

Carbon steel blades are very sharp and maintain their sharp edge but often rust or stain easily. Many professional chefs love carbon steel blades because of how sharp they are and how easily they are to sharpen. However, remember they require a great deal of maintenance.

Stainless steel blades, while not as sharp, are very corrosion resistant. Stainless steel offers one of the most sterile surfaces for preparing food. The best stainless steel knives have high carbon content. However, because stainless steel has iron, chromium, and nickel in it, those who are allergic to those minerals should avoid stainless steel.

Laminated blades layer different steel materials into a “sandwich” of steel, which brings out the best of each material used. Tougher steel may be used for the backing while sharper steel may be used for the edge.

Ceramic blades maintain their sharp edge the longest of the materials, but they are very brittle and so may break or chip if dropped. They are also hard to sharpen. However, they won't react to food, so they won't change the taste of the food.

Below are the most basic elements you will need in your cutlery set:

Chef's Knife: Although it is an offshoot of the butcher's knife, the chef's knife or French knife is now one of the most generally used knives in American homes. This multipurpose knife can be for chopping, slicing, mincing and more.

Bread Knife: These knifes are serrated, which make them great for cutting foods with a hard exterior and a soft interior surface like bread.

Paring Knife: This knife is a smaller version of the chef's knife, making it ideal for delicate foods and intricate work. This all-purpose knife has a plain edge blade, which is great for peeling.

Bakeware

When choosing bakeware, keep in mind that not all baking materials have the same effect on your cooking. Also, remember to register for several of the same piece, especially where recipes may call for a top and bottom crust. Below are some of the different types of bakeware materials:

Aluminum (Insulated and Anodized): Aluminum is a favorite of many professional chefs because of its great ability to conduct heat for even and fast heating. It is also very durable and rust resistant, but usually not dishwasher safe.

Silicone: This is a very popular material in kitchens because it is also durable and a great heat conductor and is dishwasher, freezer, and microwave safe.

Glass: This material allows for faster baking because it absorbs heat, and it allows you to see how done your dish is without cutting into it. Glass is great for serving from, is easy to clean, and very versatile.

Copper: This is an excellent heat conductor and distributes heat evenly, which makes it great for baking, but copper does require regular polishing.

Ceramic: This porcelain-glazed, heat-treated clay retains heat well and thus is excellent for baking casseroles and pies. Ceramics that have a porcelain coating are also easy to clean.

Appliances and Organizers

Think about your lifestyle plus some cooking or entertaining goals you have and register, not only for the regular appliances like slow cookers and coffeemakers, but also other items you may have always wanted like a stand mixer, espresso machine, bread maker, food processor, or even a grill. These items will help you turn your house into a home where you entertain friends and host family dinners.

Also remember to register storage or organizational items you want to coordinate with your new kitchen like a spice rack, thermometers, salt and pepper mills, or kitchen storage units.

DINING ROOM

Table Linens

Table accessories can add a ton of character to your dining room. With tablecloths, runners, placemats, and napkin rings, you can change the feel of a room and update a look without having to update your china. So you may want to register for a couple different sets of table accessories to have options when entertaining.

Below are a few guidelines and helpful information about table linens.

  • Generally a tablecloth should have at least a 6 inch but no more than 10 inch drop although it's better to have a tablecloth that's too long rather than too short.
  • To select the right size tablecloth, add two times the length of the drop you want to both the length and the width of your table.
  • Linens made from synthetic materials are easier to care for and are more stain resistant.
  • Damask linen and Egyptian cotton are generally considered the more formal tablecloths.
  • Although cotton or linen cloths require more care and ironing, they also tend to last longer than synthetics.
  • Table linens should act as the backdrop for the rest of the dining room, so they shouldn't overpower your dinnerware, but rather they should contrast them.
  • Remember to register for extra napkins to use in bread baskets or in case of stains.
  • Runners can be used alone on a table or over a tablecloth to create an accented look.
  • Placemats can also be used either alone or over a tablecloth.

Dinnerware

Register for 12 or more place settings so either if some break or you have extra guests, you will still have a complete set of dinnerware. Choose some basic patterns you will feel comfortable using every day, while also mixing in some more elegant or colorful patterns you'll want to bring out for entertaining. For your formal settings, you may want to choose pieces with contrasting features so that your table is neither overwhelming nor overly drab. You could always register for both an everyday, casual set and a formal dining set.

Below are some of the different materials used in tableware:

Porcelain: This is composed of china stone and china clay and is very durable and dishwasher safe.

Bone China: This is porcelain that has had bone ash added to it. Bone ash is also very durable and lightweight and has more whiteness and translucency than regular porcelain.

Earthenware: This is clay pottery fired at low temperatures. Earthenware is heavy and often fragile.

Stoneware: This clay pottery is fired at high temperatures, making it strong and heavy. Stoneware is glazed and often vitrified or semi-vitrified, as well as usually dishwasher and microwave safe.

Flatware

Many often register for two sets of flatware, one for everyday use and the other for formal occasions, but in the very least you will need the same number of flatware in either casual or formal flatware as you have dinnerware. No matter what material the flatware is made of, pay attention to how it feels in your hand, whether it's comfortable, heavy or lightweight, and then choose what feels right to you.

Sterling Silver: These pieces, which should have “sterling” stamped on them, are made of at least 92.5 percent silver with a small portion of another alloy metal. They are very elegant, but must be hand-washed and polished.

Vermeil: This is a very elegant flatware. A thin layer of at least 10-karat gold is plated to a sterling silver base.

Silver Plate: A thin layer of 100 percent silver is coated over a metal base, usually of nickel. This type of flatware is elegant but still dishwasher safe.

Stainless Steel: This flatware, made of steel, chromium, and nickel, doesn't tarnish easily. The highest grade is 18/8 but 18/10 is also a good quality.

Glassware

It's a good idea to register for a few more pieces of glassware than place setting in case some are broken. Also, you can register for both casual and formal glassware. Even if you don't drink alcohol, glassware that is traditionally used to serve alcohol can also be used to serve other drinks or desserts. Glassware comes in wide variety of materials such as glass, plastic, crystal, metal, or even wood. Remember to hold the glasses in your hand to determine what you'll be most comfortable with.

Crystal is very elegant stemware that has a percentage of lead oxide in it to make it brilliant and diffract light. Lead also gives crystal its bell-like ring when it's tapped. Generally, the more lead in the crystal glassware, the better quality it is although how it is manufactured, whether hand-blown or machine made, will have a bearing on the quality. However, there are health concerns about using lead crystal to store liquids or using it too frequently because lead could seep into the liquid. Many stores now offer non-lead crystal stemware.

To start out your stemware collection, choose red wine glasses, white wine glasses and champagne flutes. Red wine glasses are wider and larger to allow the wine to “breathe” and to allow the drinker to smell the flavor of the wine. White wine glasses are narrower to keep the wine cooler when they're held at the stem. Champagne flutes are even narrower to maintain the temperature and help retain the carbonation.

You could also register for martini or cocktail glasses, which are also great for serving ice cream desserts in, beer mugs or pint glasses, margarita glasses, and tumblers.

Party Essentials

Register for all the little accessories that make entertaining your friends even more fun. A wine rack, wine cooler, or bar set will be nice for hosting a fun wine tasting for your friends. Cheese platters and spreaders as well as condiment servers are a must for entertaining. Cocktail shakers, sugar and creamer sets, pitchers, and salad serving sets make great registry items and are often the last things you'd buy yourself.

Cleaning

No one likes to think about cleaning even in a new home, but with a busy wedding planning schedule, you might forget to buy the basics when it comes to starting a new life. So register for all of the cleaning and home maintenance supplies you'll need like a new vacuum, mop, broom and dustpan, ironing board, iron, hampers, fans, trashcans, closet organizers and anything you use or need on a regular basis.

Electronics

A wedding is also like a housewarming party too, so registering for electronics should be on your list. After all, you may use a DVD or MP3 player more than you'd use a blender, so let your guests get you what you'd really use and enjoy for years to come. A home theater system or even a digital camera to take on your honeymoon would be excellent gifts.

Hobbies

Many guests like to get couples things that aren't traditional wedding gifts but are things the couple would really use. So whatever your hobbies are, register for things you can use together. Do you like to go camping or hiking? Register for a new tent, mountain bikes, or other camping supplies. Are you exercise fanatics? Register for a stationary bike, a treadmill, weight sets, or other exercise gear. And no matter what your favorite hobby is, you will inevitably need a good set of luggage, so register for a new luggage set to get your honeymoon off to a great start.