This online list is like a mind reader for holiday shopping.

By RACHEL SCHALLOM
November 30, 2017
Ellen Moran/Getty Images

Buying the perfect gift for someone can sometimes feel impossible and rife with decision making. It’s difficult to know just what that certain someone might like and you want to be sure to give them something they’ll actually use.

A couple years ago I discovered a helpful tool that's since made gift shopping a cinch: I use friends and family members’ old wedding registries. There’s usually options at different price points, and you can’t go wrong with something you know they want.

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It originally came to mind when I couldn't come up with a birthday idea for my friend. She had gotten married several months earlier, and I had the idea to check her registry for items she may have not received. There was a glass drink dispenser I knew she would use. It’s made for cocktails and didn’t seem too wedding-y, so I grabbed it. She loved it and used it at her holiday party a few months later.

This Christmas, I’m doing the same. I’ve purchased a few holiday gifts from past wedding registries already, like this baking mat from Bed Bath and Beyond. I stay away from items that are obvious wedding gifts, like anything with “Mr. & Mrs.,” silverware and towels because the couple has probably already stocked up on everyday items that they need. Instead I look for special items that the couple may not purchase for themselves, like champagne flutes that the recipients can use right after the holidays for New Year’s Eve.

A couple tips for shopping off of registries: You usually have between one to two years after the wedding to buy off the registry. Crate and Barrel keeps registries live for 18 months after the event. Macy’s policy is 13 months. Target maintains registries for a year. Bed Bath and Beyond keeps their registries active for two years even touting this idea on their site.

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Having trouble tracking down a registry? Major retailers usually have a “Registry” link on their homepage where you can search his or her name to find the registry, or you can Google the couple’s name and often find registry information on their wedding website.

Something to keep in mind when you buy: Registries are designed to be super helpful for the couple and often come with the option for gift tracking for thank you cards. Be sure to ask that your item not be included so they aren’t notified of the purchase before you give your gift. If you’re buying online, there’s usually a box you can check or uncheck to denote this. Stay away from the gift wrapping service, too. It’s likely to come with wedding-styled wrapping paper, instead of holiday glam.

No registry? Try scanning your friend’s Pinterest accounts. Often you’ll find insight into their style for home and beauty gifts.

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