11 Thoughtful Off-Registry Wedding Gifts

iStock
iStock

Generally speaking, if the bride and groom took the time to make a gift registry, you should give the couple what they ask for. But what if the only items left are dish towels and mixing spoons? If you truly feel like household items don’t fully express your love for the newlyweds, it might be appropriate to think outside the registry. Opt for one of the more creative options below, and you’re sure to make the happy couple smile.

1. GIFTLY GIFT CARD; YOUR CHOICE


After spending a ton of time and money preparing for the big day, the newlyweds will undoubtedly need a little “me” time—and perhaps a cash infusion. Instead of handing the couple an envelope of cash or a check, purchase a gift card from Giftly. You can customize the gift card (with a photo of the couple, their pet, or something else they love) as well as make recommendations for how they can spend it—a spa day or restaurant are smart picks.

Find it: Giftly

2. HERSCHEL ROSWELL NOVEL DUFFLE; $89.99


This roomy weekender from Herschel Supply Co. (which is best known for its trendy backpacks) will take the couple from the wedding night through to the honeymoon. Have it delivered before the big day, and they can pack it full of essentials they’ll need at the venue (a change of clothes, make-up for touch-ups) and then use it to tote their gifts home. Our favorite parts? The Limited Lifetime Warranty and separate shoe compartment.

Find it: Herschel Supply

3. LOCAL GIFT BASKET; YOUR CHOICE


Know the couple has a favorite local bakery, coffee house, or cheese shop? Check to see if they have gift baskets available for purchase. Fill it with the couple’s favorite goodies so they can indulge as they celebrate the end of their wedding diets.

Inspiration: Bklyn Larder; Murray’s Cheese

4. IRVING FARM COFFEE SUBSCRIPTION; $72


If the newlyweds love their morning coffee almost as much as they love each other, a monthly coffee subscription is the gift that keeps on giving. The New York City-based Irving Farm Coffee Roasters work directly with farmers around the globe to source beans that are sustainable as they are delicious. Three shipments of coffee will run you $72, and you can choose whether to have them delivered weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, depending on the couple’s java addiction.

Find it: Irving Farm Coffee Roasters

5. MOUTH SNACK SUBSCRIPTION; $60 PER MONTH FOR 3 MONTHS


Does the couple prefer noshing to sipping? Have a sack of tasty snacks delivered each month that are sure to satisfy both salty and sweet cravings. The offerings change each month, but a recent delivery included white corn tortilla chips with smoky Peruvian pepper salsa, caraway and garlic dill pickles, black truffle popcorn, Korean BBQ beef jerky, and a peanut butter nougat chocolate bar. Know your friends’ tastes? You can also hone in on a single snack, choosing a popcorn, jerky, pickles, or cookies subscription, to name a few (price varies by subscription).

Find it: Mouth

6. CHATBOOKS CUSTOM PHOTO BOOK; STARTS AT $8 FOR A 30-PAGE PAPERBACK

Gift the couple a beautiful book of photos from their love story. Before the wedding, gather photos of happy moments from throughout their relationship and upload them to the Chatbooks app. Chatbooks automatically arranges photos in chronological order and allows you to edit captions, move photos, and pick the book’s cover. You could also offer to turn the couple’s professional wedding photos into a custom book, or upload photos you took at the wedding to share a few moments they might have missed during their own big day.

Find it: Chatbooks

7. GUESTERLY LOOKBOOK; $99 FOR AN E-GUESTERLY


With a little foresight and planning, you can add a personal touch to the wedding itself. Also created by Chatbooks, a guesterly® is part directory, part scrapbook, part program. Include a welcome letter from the couple, bios about the wedding guests and key players (family members, wedding party), answers to a personalized questionnaire sent to guests, or a schedule of the weekend’s events—it’s up to you (and the lovebirds). Print them out as palm-sized guides wedding guests can carry with them (pricing varies by number of pages) or send as a digital file.

Find it: Guesterly

8. MAPIFUL CUSTOM MAP; STARTS AT $60


Choose a place that’s meaningful to the couple—be it where they live, where they fell in love, or where they’re from—and turn it into a piece of art. Mapiful let’s you customize the location (zoom in or out as much as you like), text, and layout of your sleek black and white map. Plus, it ships for free.

Find it: Mapiful

9. ANNIVERSARY JOURNAL; $85


Help the couple celebrate their marriage, not just the wedding, with a gift that lets them record their memories for years to come. This classic, hard-bound keepsake includes space for the couple to record reflections and aspirations as well as add photos and mementos on their first through 60th anniversaries.

Find it: UncommonGoods

10. MY FAMILY COOKBOOK; $35


The couple that eats together, stays together (someone wise must have said that once, right?). Get them started by gathering recipes from their friends and family members—Mom’s dumplings, Grandpa’s borscht, or maybe the lasagna they shared on their first date—then leave the rest of the pages blank for the couple to fill in together.

Find it: UncommonGoods

11. CUSTOM IDEAL BOOKSHELF PRINT; STARTS AT $110


Is the couple on a first-name basis with Harry (Potter), Anna (Karenina), and Jane (Austen or Eyre, take your pick)? Then there’s a good chance they’ll swoon over an illustrated bookshelf print from the artist Jane Mount. Pick up to 15 of the newlyweds’ favorite books from a list of over 1500 titles that range from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy to The Sound and the Fury.

Find it: Ideal Bookshelf

This Innovative Cutting Board Takes the Mess Out of Meal Prep

There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
There's no way any of these ingredients will end up on the floor.
TidyBoard, Kickstarter

Transferring food from the cutting board to the bowl—or scraps to the compost bin—can get a little messy, especially if you’re dealing with something that has a tendency to roll off the board, spill juice everywhere, or both (looking at you, cherry tomatoes).

The TidyBoard, available on Kickstarter, is a cutting board with attached containers that you can sweep your ingredients right into, taking the mess out of meal prep and saving you some counter space in the process. The board itself is 15 inches by 20 inches, and the container that fits in its empty slot is 14 inches long, 5.75 inches wide, and more than 4 inches deep. Two smaller containers fit inside the large one, making it easy to separate your ingredients.

Though the 4-pound board hangs off the edge of your counter, good old-fashioned physics will keep it from tipping off—as long as whatever you’re piling into the containers doesn’t exceed 9 pounds. It also comes with a second set of containers that work as strainers, so you can position the TidyBoard over the edge of your sink and drain excess water or juice from your ingredients as you go.

You can store food in the smaller containers, which have matching lids; and since they’re all made of BPA-free silicone, feel free to pop them in the microwave. (Remove the small stopper on top of the lid first for a built-in steaming hole.)

tidyboard storage containers
They also come in gray, if teal isn't your thing.
TidyBoard

Not only does the bamboo-made TidyBoard repel bacteria, it also won’t dull your knives or let strong odors seep into it. In short, it’s an opportunity to make cutting, cleaning, storing, and eating all easier, neater, and more efficient. Prices start at $79, and it’s expected to ship by October 2020—you can find out more details and order yours on Kickstarter.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

14 Powerful Facts About the Hoover Dam

Ryan Thorpe, Unsplash // Public Domain
Ryan Thorpe, Unsplash // Public Domain

The hulking Hoover Dam has been holding back the Colorado River and generating power since 1936, but you may be surprised to learn just how eventful its construction and naming were.

1. The construction of the Hoover Dam forced Las Vegas to clean up its act.

Once the public caught wind of the plans to build a dam in Nevada’s Black Canyon, surrounding cities appreciated the potential economic windfall such an undertaking would bring. Las Vegas became especially eager to house the project’s headquarters, even going so far as to sacrifice its “party city” reputation to appear worthy of the honor. When Secretary of the Interior Ray Lyman Wilbur, a major player in the project, came to town for a 1929 visit, local authorities in Las Vegas shut down a slew of its speakeasies and brothels for the day in an attempt to seem classier.

2. An entire city sprang up to support construction of the Hoover Dam.

Panorama of Boulder City, Nevada from Water Tank Hill
1932 panorama of Boulder City, Nevada, from Water Tank Hill.
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Sin City’s efforts were ultimately futile, and a planned community went up to house the 5000-person workforce. Miles of paved streets and railroad tracks connected the canyonside village to the project site and neighboring Las Vegas. The community, known as Boulder City, is still standing. However, delays in its development forced a good number of early workers to reside in the nearby Ragtown, which lived up to its name with extremely humble living conditions.

3. The Hoover Dam contains enough concrete to stretch across the United States.

The Bureau of Reclamation—the department subsidizing the project—supplied a whopping 3.25 million cubic yards of concrete for the dam itself, plus another 1.11 million cubic yards for the power plant and additional facilities. This quantity of concrete would be enough to build 3000 miles of road—a full-sized highway from one end of the United States to the other. Additionally, the dam required about 5 million barrels of cement, nearly equaling the total quantity of cement the Bureau used in its previous 27 years of existence.

4. The world’s largest refrigerator cooled all the concrete used for the Hoover Dam.

As you may guess, all this concrete posed some challenges. Without engineers’ intervention, it would have taken the massive blocks of poured concrete 125 years to cool, and this gradual drying would have left the pieces susceptible to breaking. To speed up the process, an engineering team designed a mammoth refrigeration machine. The supersized fridge dispensed upwards of 1000 tons of ice every day, speeding up the cooling and lopping decades off the project’s timeline.

5. The first summer of construction on the Hoover Dam had record-breaking heat.

The giant fridge had its work cut out for it. Work on the Hoover Dam kicked off in April 1931, not long before Nevada’s Clark County weathered some of its hottest temperatures on record. The month of June delivered an average daily high of 119°F, prompting a wave of heatstroke among workers.

6. The Hoover Dam’s laborers were terrific showmen.

Native Americans employed on the construction of Hoover Dam as high-scalers.
A group of Native Americans who worked on the Hoover Dam as high scalers, 1932.
National Archives and Records Administration, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Despite the punishing temperatures, construction attracted curious and enthralled spectators from across the country. Even more entertaining than the technological feats of the project were the death-defying antics of the “high scalers,” who rappelled down the Black Canyon to remove loose rock from the gorge’s walls. While one might expect such a job to be handled with extreme caution, the high scalers became famous for their playful, albeit ill-conceived, stunts.

Spectators were particularly fond of the antics of daredevil Louis Fagan, nicknamed “The Human Pendulum” and “One-Rope Fagan.” When teams worked on outcroppings in the canyon walls, they would move from one area to another by locking their arms and legs around Fagan and having him swing them to their next spot.

7. One heroic high scaler saved his boss’s life during construction on the Hoover Dam.

Fagan was impressive, but Oliver Cowan trumped his fellow high scalers when he snatched his falling supervisor right out of the sky. When Bureau of Reclamation engineer Burl R. Rutledge lost his hold on a safety line at the top of the canyon, he would have plummeted to his demise had Cowan, who was working 25 feet blow, not grabbed his leg as he fell. Shortly after the episode, the city of Las Vegas lobbied for a Carnegie Medal in recognition of the local man’s bravery.

8. The Hoover Dam’s chief engineer badmouthed his workers to the local press.

Not everyone was as impressed with the workforce. The hazards of the construction site and poor conditions in Ragtown contributed to the labor force’s decision to strike in 1931. A committee formed to express the workers’ demands, to which the project’s chief engineer and superintendent, Francis Trenholm Crowe, was defiantly unsympathetic. In fact, Crowe contested each of the team’s qualms with the suggestion of eagerness to have the workforce replaced. Print interviews in local news publications quoted Crowe as calling his men “malcontents” who he “would be glad to get rid of.” The hard line gambit worked, and eventually the laborers returned to work.

9. Nobody really wanted to name the dam after Herbert Hoover.

In retrospect, it seems strange that one of the country’s most impressive feats is named after one of its least beloved presidents. In fact, Hoover is understood to have only earned the honor through a political publicity stunt. In 1930, Secretary of the Interior Wilbur traveled to the site to mark the dam project’s official opening. He took advantage of the pageantry to declare, “I have the honor and privilege of giving a name to this new structure. In Black Canyon, under the Boulder Canyon Project Act, it shall be called the Hoover Dam.”

In other words, Wilbur named the dam after his boss. As Hoover was already widely maligned for his part in kicking off the Great Depression, the name was hotly contested. Wilbur’s successor, Harold L. Ickes, was a particularly vocal critic, and in 1933 he switched the in-progress structure’s name to “Boulder Dam.”

10. Herbert Hoover wasn’t even invited to the dam’s dedication.

Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes delivers his talk at the dedication of Hoover Dam
Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes delivers his talk at the dedication of Hoover Dam.
Bureau of Reclamation, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Ickes was hardly alone in his low opinion of Hoover. His own boss, Franklin D. Roosevelt, didn’t think much of Hoover’s presidential acumen, either. When FDR oversaw the dedication of the still nebulously named dam in 1935, he declined to invite his predecessor and even refused to give Hoover the expected nod in his ceremonial speech.

11. The Hoover Dam didn’t officially take its name until 1947.

The dam spent the 14 years following Ickes’s proclamation without an official name. Ultimately, on April 30, 1947, President Harry S. Truman signed a law authorizing the original Hoover handle, recognizing the 31st president’s hand in bringing the dam to life in the first place.

12. Nazis attempted to blow up the Hoover Dam.

In 1939, the United States government learned of a pair of German Nazi agents’ scheme to bomb the Hoover Dam and its power facilities. Destruction of the dam itself was not the central goal, but hampering its energy production was a key piece of the agents’ plan to undercut California’s aviation manufacturing industry. To ward off aerial attacks, authorities considered camouflaging the Hoover Dam with a paint job or even building a decoy dam downstream from the real thing. Ultimately, the Germans only managed to get as far as conducting onsite investigative work before their ploy was quashed, thanks to an increase in military security around the dam.

13. Today, the Hoover Dam helps power three states.

The dam’s energy helps keep the lights on for customers in California, Arizona, and Nevada. It creates enough power for 1.3 million people.

14. The Hoover Dam was once the world’s tallest dam.

When it was finished in 1936, the Hoover Dam was remarkable not only for having completed construction a full two years ahead of schedule, but also for its unprecedented stature. The Black Canyon structure stretched 726 feet from base to top, practically soaring above the old record holder, Oregon’s 420-foot-tall Owyhee Dam. After holding the height title for two decades, Hoover was at last outdone by Switzerland’s 820-foot-tall Mauvoisin Dam in 1957. Eleven years later, it lost its domestic title to California’s 770-foot-tall Oroville Dam.