It’s not that your bridesmaids won’t treasure a beautiful necklace or a pair of earrings. Any gift, given with a generous spirit and good intentions, is something to be appreciated. But when you really want to thank the ladies who put in the time, money, and emotional support to make your special day perfect, it helps to turn utilitarian. The most-requested item on any bridesmaid’s list? A container to hold all that wedding day stuff!

Matching Purses

The worst thing about cute dresses is that none of them ever seem to come with pockets. A high-intensity occasion like a wedding demands a whole list of wedding day essentials, so your bridesmaids need somewhere to store them. If you leave it up to each bridesmaid, you’ll end up with a line of women all toting clutches, purses, and handbags of assorted colors and sizes–which makes you wonder why you spent so much effort picking out the perfect matching dresses. However, even if you give your friends free reign to choose their own bridesmaid dresses for the big day, a line of matching handbags will tie your bridal party together as they move around your reception.

The best thing about picking out matching purses for your bridesmaids is you don’t have to worry about flattering a variety of body types. Tall, short, big-chested, or pear-shaped, every woman can rock a nice-looking handbag. It’s a gift that will appeal to your fashionable friends and practical friends alike. Stock the purses with useful wedding items like stain remover sticks, matching makeup and nail polish, and flasks so your girls can test those signature cocktails.

Pockets on Strings

If you like the idea of giving your bridesmaids a convenient place to store their essentials, but don’t feel confident picking out an expensive purse they’ll all appreciate, steer away from the big brand names and embrace the world of DIY crafts instead. A pocket on a string is a simple, understated, and adorable way to carry small items. Simply cut out the pockets from old pants or jackets (or, if you’re a talented sewer, make matching pockets from scratch). Sew the pockets onto lengths of attractive ribbon that are long enough to tie around your bridesmaids’ waists. (Don’t worry; this step only requires a few stitches on each side.) If you’re feeling extra creative, embroider or screen print a personalized wedding message onto each pocket.

When you’re done, you’ll have a handmade and charming gift that can be flaunted on the outside of your bridesmaids’ dresses (for rustic, vintage, or shabby chic weddings) or worn beneath the layers of a poufy skirt (for a more streamlined look). Don’t forget to stuff the pockets with bridesmaid essentials like matching lip gloss, safety pins, bobby pins, Band-Aids (for long nights dancing in heels), aspirin, and breath mints (in case of cute groomsmen).

Utility Belts

No, utility belts aren’t just for carpenters and plumbers. Instead of carrying hammers and measuring tape, your bridesmaids will need to glide around your wedding reception ready to whip out hairbrushes, cameras, or tubes of moisturizer at a moment’s notice. Make sure your ladies have the right tools for the job by gifting them with matching utility belts that can hold everything they (and you) need. That way, when loose threads snag, zippers break, or sun block needs to be applied pronto, your bridal party will be at the ready.

So how do you make sure the utility belts look good? One easy way is to commission them from an artist. Handmade leather utility belts are increasingly common on Etsy and other craft sales websites. Some of them are so delicate and ornamented, they’re less like containers and more like jewelry for your hips. If you want to go this route, choose bridesmaid dresses that have well-defined waistlines and fuller skirts so the belts will have a natural place to rest.

When your bridesmaids are able to carry the items that are important to them, there’s less stress and worry about the little things. You can cut out all of the running around trying to locate emergency items and just relax and enjoy your big day. You’ll have the satisfaction of seeing your friends use and enjoy your gifts to them. Plus, if you really want to give your bridal party matching jewelry as a thank-you, when they’re not wearing it they’ll have a lovely place to store it.T

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