The start of the traditional wedding season is here and with it the questions: What to wear and what to buy the newlyweds? The average couple registers for 153 items, according to TheKnot.com, and kitchen gear and small appliances are popular requests. To help you sort through the choices, Consumer Reports picked some of the top-rated housewares from our tests ranging in price from $60 to $450.
Coffeemakers. Decked out in Swavorski crystals, the Cusinart Crystal SCC-1000 Limited Edition Perfec Temp coffeemaker, $199, can make a statement on any countertop. But the 14-cup drip machine also makes a great cup of coffee. Brewing performance was excellent and it maintained the industry-recommended 195 degrees F for five or six minutes. Setup, operation, and cleanup were a cinch, and we found this model's carafe very easy to handle.
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Kitchen knives. An old adage says it's bad luck to give knives to newlyweds but with grooms often participating in gift selection, more knives are appearing on registries. Our top-rated set is the Zwilling J.A. Henckels Twin Professional "S", $300. This set of seven knives had excellent cutting performance and the handles are well balanced and comfortable. A bonus is the free lifetime warranty.
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Stand mixers. The KitchenAid Classic stand mixer, $200, and its brandmate the KitchenAid Artisan, $300, are perennials on wedding registries and we recommend both models. But in our tests, the Breville BEM800XL, $299, bested both KitchenAids with its excellent marks for mixing, whipping and kneading. It doesn't resemble a KitchenAid but its stainless finish has its own sleek appeal.
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Toasters. You can spend a lot on a toaster but that doesn't mean it'll make good toast. But the two-slice Cuisinart CPT-420, $80, and the four-slice Cuisinart CPT-440, $100, were champs at browning bread evenly in successive batches. If the couple wants a coordinated countertop, the KitchenAid Pro Line KMT2203CA, $299, which matches the stand mixer, also makes good toast. And for cooking options such as baking and broiling, our top toaster oven is the Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL, $250.
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Blenders. For couples who like to entertain, the Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004, $60, can churn out some delicious icy drinks and was rated excellent in overall performance. And at that price we named it a CR Best Buy. It's a good choice if you're giving the couple a check but don't want to arrive empty handed. Of course, you can spend a lot more than that on the cult favorite, the Vitamix 5200, $450. The 11-speed blender is great at preparing smoothies, crushing ice and making puree. And it has an online following of folks who share tips and recipes.
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Steam irons. Weddings can also be the time to go off registry and give the couple something they may not have thought of but that would make their life easier. With its excellent steaming rate, the Reliable IronMaven J420 steam ironing system, $299, will save the newlyweds hours of ironing time. And its large water tank allows for less frequent refills. In our tests, the results were wrinkle-free.
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Water filters. Another unconventional but useful gift is the Shaklee BestWater MTS2000 82300 countertop water filter, $260. It can save the couple from lugging in crates of bottled water and filters large amounts of water without modifying the plumbing system. And you can give the bride and groom his and hers water bottles.
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Whether you're shopping online or at a local store, check the retailer's gift wrapping policy. Many will do it for free. In a recent report on gift wrapping, we found that Bed Bath & Beyond has free do-it-yourself stations, and that Amazon charges $3.99 to $5.99 per item depending on its size.