There’s an old and gentle tradition of bringing a present when visiting someone’s house. The concept behind it is showing respect and appreciation for the invitation; a way to be grateful for being allowed inside the personal sanctuary that is a home. When someone buys a house and you’re one of the first “outsiders” to be allowed in, it becomes even more special of an occasion.
With that in mind, our team at RealEstateAgent.com decided to do an article on the most Traditional Housewarming Gifts to help you out on figuring the best housewarming gifts you can bring to such a special occasion—you don’t want to forever remember how you went empty-handed or, even worse, with a terrible gift that the homeowner basically accepted out of pity.
But first things first: let’s talk about the concept behind housewarming gifts.
Unique Housewarming gifts vs. Practical housewarming gifts
Your gift selection should be guided along this axis of unique housewarming gifts and practical housewarming gifts. There’s a sweet spot right in between them that makes for the best present possible.
You can’t go wrong with practical housewarming gifts; those presents that every homeowner – regardless of sex, tastes, creed – needs; not likes. What are those practical housewarming gifts? Practical objects like an electric wine bottle opener, for instance. Electrical wine bottle openers are one of those essential home items this place might be missing and won’t be subject to personality traits and preferences. It’s all about being useful and helpful around the house, so every time the homeowner uses it, he or she will remember “Oh, my best buddy gave me that! How would I open bottles if it wasn’t for him?”
However, because they’re pretty standard, with no special flair to it, they can feel sort of boring and forgettable. It’s always nice to give something that shows that, not only you cared about the homeowner’s necessities and well-being but you also know them and their taste. To give a unique housewarming gift to the homeowner is to show that you’re paying attention not only to their general needs but the specific ones. That you value their point of view and the present is a reinforcement of that. So, it’s very common for someone to try and give an expensive unique piece of art, for instance, thinking it will show how much they value the person, but it turns out it becomes a little invasive as the homeowner feels obligated to expose it in a premier place of the property. Or even worse, it forces him to take the piece out of storage whenever you come by, just to pretend they liked the gift.
What a situation, right?
The best way to mediate this issue, then, is to find a balance between being unique and useful. For instance, if the homeowner is a big Green Bay Packers fan, a green and yellow bottle opener will be a fantastic idea, as it is useful, not invasive and very complimenting of who the homeowner is.
Ok, now that you’ve got the concept behind the whole thing, let’s take a look at the most traditional housewarming gifts. Have the homeowner in mind to keep an eye on which of those would better hit the sweet spot between a unique housewarming gift and a practical housewarming gift. We’ll go from closest to furthest to that sweet spot.
Can’t go wrong with wine. It’s the most perfect housewarming gift. Here’s why: of course, very useful for the moment of celebration and even for whenever the homeowner decides to open that bottle. You can just go for a regular bottle of wine or invest in a more expensive one that he/she will let it age until an even more special occasion. Wine will never be a bad idea – unless the homeowner is a recovering alcoholic – because no one will ever be like “I don’t like the taste of this one; I like Sauvignon Blanc better than Pinot Noir”. If that’s the case, whatever, there will be an occasion where the use of it will come into place, so they’ll be glad to have it in store. For the wine connoisseurs or not, bringing a bottle to add to their new home’s wine collection will be a much-appreciated addition to the new home. Better yet: give wine glasses together with it. They are home bar essentials so you can never have too many and it won’t be a problem if they don’t match with the homeowner’s collection. You can always mix-match, plus wine glasses always break so having replacements in hand is important.
Sometimes new homeowners are so busy unpacking that they don’t have time for anything, much less cooking a decent meal. But don’t screw this up and arrive with Pringles and Coca-Cola. A gift as simple as a home-cooked meal will be the best gift that a new homeowner could ask for. Or not even a meal. Are you famous for a desert, for instance? Bring it! It’s very nice to have something that you baked yourself. It shows you dedicated yourself to it; much more special than just walking to a store and buying something. If you can’t cook, sure, buy something someplace, but don’t show up with Pringles and Coca-cola. Try a bit harder, order nice takeout from someplace nice, get pastries at a hip bakery etc. Prefer stuff that you can eat without silverware – as they might still be stored in boxes – or bring them yourself!
Small Kitchen Appliances
This is a very traditional housewarming gift. Here’s why: during a move, sometimes small items get broken or misplaced and are never to be found again, right? So, small kitchen tools and appliances like bottle openers, can openers, ice cream scooper, pizza cutters, garlic mincer, ravioli maker, cookie cutters (the list is long, folks!) are great practical housewarming gifts that can make a huge difference in a homeowner’s life.
Linens are one traditional housewarming gift items that are kind of obvious but we get surprised by it, right? Linens are a great choice of gift; everyone appreciates new linens to add to their linen closet. Even if not for them; they can use it for guests. Just try to figure out beforehand the homeowner’s bed size and guest room bed sizes. There will be no use for Queen size sheets if the bed is King Size and vice-versa. And, of course, don’t go too crazy with the pattern of it. Prefer the basic whites and light palette (blues, grays etc.) that will go along with any kind of décor. If you want to be fancy, invest in the material. Silk stuff, 200+ thread count sheets etc. Also: figure out if there are any indoor allergies that could be creeping up on the homeowner because maybe it’s imperative to get hypoallergenic bed sheets.
Robes and House Slippers
Following the last traditional housewarming gift suggestion, robes and house slippers are all about comfort. On days that are perfect to cozy up in warm clothing, bathrobes and warm house slippers are perfect and very hard to do wrong if, like the linens, you go for classic and discreet. But, differently from the linens, your chances of getting it right is going for dark colors rather than light colors. Dark reds, purple (the classic Hugh Heffner look!), brown, black and plaid patterns are usually a hit here. Remember that it needs to be made of a great fabric; no polyester!
For the pictures that don’t have a home either, frames are a great item for a new house. Hanging pictures on the wall and around the house is one of the best ways to feel comfortable in new surroundings and if you do it right, chances are the homeowner will like it so much they’ll put a picture of the both of you in it. Even better: give the picture frame with a silly photo of the both of you together, so it becomes a 2-in-1 practical and unique housewarming gift!
Scented candles are a good choice. Yes, the homeowner might not love the smell or the shape of the candles but those are two different categories for you to strike out, so it becomes a bit easier to please. A good tip is to avoid crazy shapes and go for the traditional ones. This way, even if the smell is bad, they can still have it in display composing a specific place of the house. Decorative candles are perfect accent pieces of decor for a new home.
After a long day of unpacking boxes, it is essential to winding down. New homeowners with bathtubs should be taking full advantage of their use. Bath soaps may seem insignificant as a gift but can mean a world of a difference when it’s time to relax. It does, however, suffer the same problem the candles do in the sense that the homeowner might have a different smell taste than yours, and dislikes the smell of it. It’s very difficult for that to happen with bath soaps as the smell is not as present as with candles, but there are all sorts of people out there, right? So, we ranked them after the candles because, while the candles can just be used for decoration and never really exhale their smell, bath soaps are pretty useless if the homeowner is picky and hates the smell. Anyways, in that unusual scenario, we guess the homeowner could still have a use for it by putting on the guest’s bathroom, right?
Silverware and Serving Set
Do you eat with your hand? Everyone needs silverware and a serving set in their home! This is one of the best housewarming gifts for first homes, but if the homeowner just moved from someplace else, you might rethink this one as it might not be that much needed. Sure, you can improve this with fine, designer, exquisite silverware or something like that, but chances are it will just pile up as a collector object.
Decorations for home front doors can make it more welcoming. Wreaths can be handmade to add more sentimental value. For a personal touch, they can be made into a monogram. But beware: although the house might call for it, this one can be a little invasive as your taste might not match the homeowner’s, or your comprehension of the owner’s taste might be a little off.
Lastly, let’s address three things:
Considering the homeowner’s taste can be tricky to grasp, you’ve probably wondered if giving a gift card as a housewarming gift would be a better idea. The answer is almost always: no.
We’ve advocated against too unique housewarming gifts, but we must advocate about too impersonal ones as well. Sure, they’re practical, but gift cards are the epitome of impersonal. And they’re always what? 20, 50, 100 bucks at best? If it was a very expensive gift card, like $200 or something, we could even consider but overall it’s just a bad idea. Much better to spend 25 bucks on a nice dessert or a bottle of wine and play it low.
Since we are avoiding impersonal presents, here’s an idea for you when yours is too much of a unique housewarming gift: customize it! DIY it! Now the present, however impersonal it is, immediately becomes more interesting to your friend. For instance, remember the picture frame example? What if, on top of it, paint the borders of the picture frame or do some sort of mosaic with rocks or whatever your imagination and skill allows you to?
Be aware that this is an invitation for the gift to become unique in a bad way. So try your best and ask a third party that also knows the homeowner for an honest opinion regarding the finished result of your little art project.
Advice to Homeowners:
Guys, if you’ve just moved to a new house and are expecting a lot of visitors… make it easier for your friends and write a housewarming gift list. Post it on your social media. Be polite, make sure it’s not a demand because, if it is, there’s no use of it; this is about courtesy, an act of voluntarily showing appreciation for the invitation. Say something like “By all means, when we invite you over to meet the new place, all we want is your presence to celebrate this special occasion. HOWEVER, because figuring out the “perfect housewarming gift” becomes a source of distress to many, I’ve decided to make a list of things we do need and would love to receive and here they are for your convenience”.
But gifts are just the entrance part of a housewarming party. If this is your first time at a housewarming, check what to bring to a housewarming aside from the gifts.