It used to be that the only people we knew who registered themselves were brides, moms-to-be and sex offenders. Then Amazon wish lists made our teenage cousins join the fun, and house warmers and birthday girls followed suit.

An increasing number of people are starting to use gift registries for everyday events. A recent report by market research company Mintel predicts retailers will make a cool $5 billion from the lists in 2008.

Some buyers like registries because they take the stress and uncertainty out of choosing a gift -- and eliminate the possibility of blowing cash on something the person will never use. Registries can also cut down the number of customers returning gifts. Sites like Amazon.com not only cater to the registrants, but allow the buyer to compare prices.

Still, some think being told what to get someone takes the personal touch out of gift giving. It may also burden, more than benefit, the gift giver who feels one more "to-do" before a big event.

"I think that registries should be reserved for weddings and baby showers, maybe for a big anniversary," says etiquette expert Jacqueline Whitmore, founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Florida. But others say it's helpful to have guidance, especially when it comes to a person who you never know what to get.

"I don't think a registry for Christmas or your birthday is a bad/tacky idea, especially if people are always asking what you want," says Kahliya R. "This way if people ask, you can give them the registry information for your favorite store. Considering I love to shop and I am a picky person, I would prefer someone to get me what I want or give me a gift card/money."

But you should think before you list. Don't register at an expensive place half the people you know won't be able to afford. Instead, pick items with a range of prices, or maybe consider creating a list at a site like Myregistry.com, which lets you include items from stores all over the world.

Tell us:
Would it be easier if someone gave you a list of what they want for holidays and birthdays?