I think register for the basic and essentials is a good place to start! Kitchen is the easiest for me. I used to work at a gourmet kitchen store and here is what I would tell you if you registered there:
Knives – get good forged steel. Henkles, wustoff etc. but beware there are lots of different levels of quality, but pick knives you like holding. If you want to go high end, try a shun. In fact if you like near any sort of gourmet kitchen store, go ask if they have the shun “ken onion”. That knife is ergonomic and amazing. if you want to stay on a budget area here a good way to go is get great basics- a chef or santoku anywhere from 6-11” is the knife you will use the most. Next is a good paring knife. If your store has them check out ceramic, they are harder to break than you think and they are like magic to cut with! Lastly you need a good serrated knife to cut anything that is harder on the outside than it is on the inside, like tomatoes or bread. After that it is all extra. I recommend if your FI is like my hubby, letting him add a set of steak knives that come in a fancy box. He LOVEs that box! lol
pots and pans- again get a set that you like holding. You can mix and match, since people will probably buy one not a set! I recommend bonded (not coated) nonstick like scanpan or Swiss diamond. They cost more but they last and aren’t toxic. As far as stainless goes this is where you need to think “ok are my guests going to want to spend this much?” the stuff I would tell you to buy, the will maybe get for you but maybe not. I recommend as the best of the best the CIA (culinary institute of America) 7 ply amazing 10 piece set. If you are spending some bucks on cookware here is what you should know- there are 2 kids of stainless steel- disc bottom and ply cookware. Disc bottom are thicker on the bottom and won’t cook on the sides. Stainless steel actually doesn’t get hot very easily so to conduct the heat the disc will probably have some copper or more likely, aluminum. This is decent cookware especially if you have an electric stove. If you have (or plan to have) a gas range, ply cookware is probably a good investment. The more “sheets” of metal the more evenly your cookware will cook, but the type of metal matters too. Copper is the best, so a copper core is good to look for. Hard anodized aluminum is a really popular type of cookware too- it is often coated in non stick. I don’t recommend it though. If it isn’t nonstick it will start to stick pretty bad after about 5 years and if it is non stick it probably isn’t as good as the scanpan or Swiss diamond. There is nothing wrong with this stuff, but you will have to baby it to make it last forever.
Electrics- I love my kitchenaid. This is a good group gift so if you think you will use it, it never hurts to add! Also good are food processors, toasters, nice blenders (I recommend vita-mix, they cost more but are WORTH it) also in the small appliance category are hand mixers, immersion blenders (great if you like to make soup!) choppers and fun things like pannini presses etc.
Tiny stuff- adding nice whisks and wooden spoons is fun and if you throw on a nice canister to put them in they can be great as add on’s or shower gifts!
Cookbooks- if you don’t have these I recommend: Joy of cooking, Betty Crocker best of baking and the red gingham better homes and gardens cookbook. You can also add some grilling books if your FI is into them (or you) because people love to get things he will like too!
Mixing bowls, baking tools etc. I love my set of heavy ceramic le creuset stoneware mixing bowls. I heat them up in the oven to serve from at big parties and they are amazing when you stir you don’t have to hold them. A good nesting melamine set is good to have too, and they are often inexpensive. As for baking tools cookie sheets, loaf pans all are important. Get whatever you like the look/ feel of. I recommend loaf pans especially; I use them to make lasagna. Instead of making one big one I make 3 “lasagna for two” in loaf pans. Round cake pans are good to have, I like to make sure I have at least one set of two, to make birthday cakes. Make sure the sides are 90 degrees from the bottom, so your cake is nice and straight. Oh and nice pie plates make good gifts too!
Other kitchen novelties-oil and vinegar sets, pizza stones, colanders to strain in a nice color or stainless steel are good. If you like to make Asian food a good wok is good. If you like French cooking a good Dutch oven is great too! Staub and Le creuset are the best, but also the most expensive. Mario batali and Martha stewart are known to chip easier but are still good quality and will work well!
Best of baking- be careful with novelty baking pans- people love to buy these and you might not wind up with any practical gifts! There are lots of fun things like springform pans, rolling pins, bundt pans, Madeline molds etc that you can find almost anywhere. I don’t really use these that often but they are good to have around!
Table ware- dishes and flatware are a totally personal thing. if you like china go for it! Or you could register for some nice every day dishes. Keep in mind this is the last time people will probably buy you china so if you think you will want it, find a set you like and add away! I was lucky to inherit a set but there are some amazing china patterns out there right now!