I recently spoke to a bride who was s-t-r-e-s-s-e-d about getting her registry completed, though her wedding was still 12 months away. Turned out, she thought she needed to get it completed before her engagement party so the hosts could include her registry information on the invitation.
Engagement parties are not, I repeat, not showers. Gifts are not expected, or appropriate for engagement parties. The reasoning behind this etiquette standard is likely because traditionally, engagement parties were simply parties at which an engagement was announced as a surprise to the guests. Though this surprise factor is less common today (but such a fun idea!), the no-gifts policy remains in effect.
Now of course it is a possibility that a few people will bring gifts to the engagement party, and that is their prerogative. But brides shouldn’t feel pressure to get a registry together so early into the engagement (if the party is in actuality soon after the engagement).
If asked about your registry in advance of an engagement party, simply reply, Oh please don’t feel like you need to bring a gift! We just want to get our close friends together to celebrate this time.
And if a few guests do bring presents, by all means show the rest of the party due consideration and wait to open those gifts until everyone’s gone home. Or at least slip discreetly to a more private area, if the generous giver insists on seeing you open their present in person.
After all, your guests will be shilling out for a wedding present, not to mention a shower present (or two), on those forthcoming gift-giving occasions. So don’t jump the gun by expecting (or requesting!) gifts at your engagement party.