Once upon a time in America, people had to accept baby gifts no idea what that was wrapped in beautiful paper. Surprise was part of the delight. The donor chose presents with care and imagination, and hoped recipients would treasure them.

But that was before something called christening gifts registries came and caught on among newly married couples and mothers-to-be. The bride-to-be, usually, or the expectant mother, marched down to the local department store and recorded. If she liked a certain spoon pattern, or a pillow - or a separate cot for small "Babykins" to come - she had put them on their wish list and then tell their friends that she was "registered" at that store.

For gift-sensor meant no more fretting over what the happy couple might like when they start their life together, or what would be ideal for Babykins. As a shipping clerk to fill an order, they picked something from the registry, and the store checked it off the list.

Then came the Internet and online unique baby gifts registries have popped up like mushrooms whether for baby girl gifts or baby boy gifts after a spring rain. Now, the web, you can record all your material desires - not just the gifts you would love to get to weddings and parties baby - but also your wishes for bar mitzvahs, graduations, holidays and retirement.

Although there is no special occasion, these registers record your or your family's dreams material - just in case someone wants to give you something. Right there in cyberspace for all to see, you can list that fireplace screen you've always wanted, a hard to find video for Johnny, and a special, perhaps costly, camera for Sue.

Gift registries save shopping time. They take the guesswork out of giving. But a lot of love too. And they leave the stubborn few who still insist on surprising someone to tremble with doubt: "Will she like this toaster? And will she still likes me?"