The Best Engagement Gift I Received Also Doubles as the Prettiest Storage

published Sep 6, 2023
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The girl lights a candle at her desk at home. A minute of relaxation after working with a laptop. Relaxation and Zen atmosphere
Credit: Iuliia Pilipeichenko/Shutterstock

When my fiancé, Jeffery, and I got engaged in April, we knew that our friends and family would want to celebrate with bottles of bubbly and an array of well-wishing gifts. But as someone who’s very particular about the things I bring into my home — and also someone who lives in a small one-bedroom apartment — the thought of engagement gifts struck an uncomfortable cord. 

Don’t get me wrong — I love to receive gifts. It’s definitely one of my love languages, and it brings me unending joy to feel like the gifter really knows me by interpreting my quirks into a thoughtful gift. What I don’t love, though, is collecting clutter, and unfortunately, so much of the modern wedding industry results in a ton of waste. I’d personally rather not force my loved ones into extraneous spending, and I’d certainly rather not amass a stockpile of kitschy mementos. 

Credit: Caroline Mullen

Luckily my friends and family know me well, and instead of buying lots of gifts that aren’t mine or Jeffery’s taste, we received a modest selection of truly thoughtful gifts — plus lots of Champagne, of course. One friend gifted us a set of Tiffany crystal glasses, and another sent a gift card to custom frame our engagement photos. We both received vintage ring holders that fit our styles, and my in-laws sourced a hand-painted Delft bud vase from the Netherlands, because I love blue and white china. 

Perhaps my favorite gift, though, was actually the most practical: a custom wooden match box I now proudly display on our coffee table. 

What’s so special about a custom matchbox? 

I have a habit of leaving little bunches of matches around the apartment because they’re just so much more satisfying to use than a lighter. I keep matches in the bathroom (because they neutralize odors like nothing else), kitchen, and bedroom, and also on the coffee table so that wherever there’s a smell or a candle that needs lighting, there’s a match nearby.

In the past, I’ve actually glued striker paper onto various vessels to hold matches around the house, but even that doesn’t hold a candle to this adorable vintage-inspired box on the coffee table. 

You may have seen the recent trend of creating custom matchbooks (thanks to Tremont Home), but a more permanent and refillable option is a wooden matchbox. The box cheekily reads “The Perfect Match,” with room to personalize the year and initials of the betrothed. I love the detailed, hand-drawn feel of the illustration, as well as the retro color palette — it truly could not coordinate with my style better.

Credit: Caroline Mullen

This little box is perfect for storing standard strike-on-box matches, but it also fits kitchen matches, which I’m partial to due to their longer burn time (i.e., several candles lit with one match). Eventually I’m sure the striker paper on the side will wear out, but don’t worry: You can actually buy inexpensive replacements online

This matchbox tops the list of engagement gifts I’ve received because it commemorates the moment, fits right in with our existing decor, serves a vital purpose in our home, and reminds me what thoughtful friends I have every time I use it. When they say good things come in small packages, they’re talking about this custom matchbox. 

Buy: OakdeneDesigns Personalized Couples Large Matchbox, $30.20