I got quite a bit from my registry - bedding, cloth diapers, swaddles, cups, etc. Maybe I'm just nuts, but I ended up with "buyer's remorse" over most of it, even returned some of the items I'd registered for! Registering totally stressed me out. I really wanted to focus on enjoying my pregnancy and loved poking around resale shops for little treasures to stash away. People kept asking me, "What are you doing your nursery in?" I finally picked an owl theme just to appease the masses. :) Then baby's born, and she has her own needs and preferences that threw my preconceived notions right out the window anyway!
I did get quite a few cloth diapers, even from people who didn't know how they worked. Also one "diaper cake" (those tiered shower decorations) made of disposables, but the cloth diaper registry pretty much clued everyone in not to buy packs of 'sposies.. My favorite gifts were handmade items, knitted items, cute clothing, artwork, books, and hand-me-downs. Pretty much the things you can't register for!
My generation ordered stuff off Amazon (great for cloth diapers!), and my mom's generation preferred a brick-and-mortar store. I had three small showers, and at each of them at least somebody (like the hostesses or grandparents) wanted to get a "big-ticket" item, like a quilt or car seat. Acquaintances often went in together on a gift. I'd say the showers were about 50/50 registry items and other gifts.