Whether you're attending a full-fledged housewarming party or you'd just like to make your neighbors feel welcome, it's nearly always a good idea to bring some kind of treat on your first visit to someone's new place. Here are our Top 10 picks for nice ways to say, "Best wishes on turning this new house into a home!"
Alcohol and Cocktail Glasses...
When someone invites you to come see their new home, a nice bottle of wine is one of the most traditional gifts out there. This is especially true if your host has specifically invited you over for dinner; while you may not expect for them to serve "your" wine at the meal or with the hors d'oeuvres, it's nice to provide the option (and give them something that they can break out the NEXT time they have company over).
However, though wine is traditional, it's also a bit...cliché. A bottle of Scotch or rum may make a better new homeowner gift for someone whom you know prefers these beverages. And don't forget about the cups! It's always embarrassing when you want to serve your guests classy or meticulously-made drinks and you don't have enough glasses to go around. Red plastic party cups scream "college frat bash", while highball glasses or copper mugs whisper, "sophisticated adult reveler."
...or just the Cocktail Glasses
But here's the thing: it's generally NOT a good idea to give alcohol to strangers because you don't really know what they like to drink--or if they drink at all. Handing a box of wine or a bottle of whiskey to a teetotaler can actually create an awkward situation; the non-drinker will have to either reject the gift outright or accept it "just to be polite" and then secretly get rid of it somehow. So instead of bringing your new neighbor booze, just bring them some elegant drinkware. The homeowner can then decide whether they'd like to fill the cups with water, lemonade, or their favorite cocktails. No pressure, no fuss!
These may seem impersonal, but they're extremely helpful when new homeowners are trying to furnish their living space (or when you're trying to choose something for the person "who has everything"). Gift cards to department stores like Wal-Mart, Target, and the like are usually a safe bet, and if you want to be adventurous, Etsy.com or Anthropologie cards can open doors for decorating, as well. Meanwhile, If you'd like to help your friend or family member "survive" their move (because, let's be honest: the process is almost never fun), you can give them a card for a local fast food restaurant or pizza joint. Show your love by buying them a meal!
Furniture and Décor
Note: only do this if you truly know the homeowners' taste in interior design, or there's a specific item that they've been hinting at. After all, you don't want for your present to become "that ugly vase that we really hate but HAVE to display because [Your Name] bought it for us."
With that said, something like a throw blanket to drape over their couch can instantly make their living space seem more cozy. And if you decide to go ahead and shell out for the coffee table that's on their Amazon wish list, they'll remember your generosity every time they hang out in their living room.
While most of us have that one friend with whom we would NEVER entrust a chainsaw or a power drill, tools are still an absolutely wonderful housewarming gift for first-time homeowners. A simple set of wrenches or screwdrivers can make a world of difference when there are home improvement projects afoot--and having to take care of such things on your own IS one of the "joys" of owning your own house!
Kits containing over 50 (or even over 100) pieces are easy enough to find on Amazon or at your local hardware / home improvement store, and they're the kind of thing that the recipient will be able to use for years to come.
Bath Towels (or Bathroom Accessories)
This is another "only if you know the recipient" idea, because bath towels CAN take up a lot of space in cupboards, so you don't want to give them to someone who already has more than enough (or has just finished furnishing their bathroom in perfectly coordinated colors). But bathroom towels--both full-sized and hand-sized--ARE very practical, and considering the fact that they DO eventually get worn-out and need to be replaced, having extras on hand is rarely a bad thing.
If the prospective recipient assures you that they're good on linens, but you're still thinking "clean and fresh-smelling" for your present, consider hand soap, scented candles, or even an essential oil diffuser.
Kitchen and Dish Towels
Unlike bath towels, it's nearly impossible to have too many kitchen towels or "dish rags." They're small, relatively cheap, and made to get splattered with food, singed by the stove, used with cleaning chemicals to scrub counter tops and other other surfaces, etc.
Do NOT just round up a bunch of your old dish towels and try to dump them on the new homeowner! But if you can find a pack of towels with a fun design embroidered or printed on the cloth, it can be a nice, inexpensive way to say that you hope the recipient will make use of their new kitchen.
To clarify: we're not suggesting that you buy a total stranger a $200 vacuum cleaner. But when you're just starting out, things like a toaster, a small crock pot, a coffee maker, or even a rice cooker are usually welcome additions to your new home. All of these devices have the potential to make life (or at least cooking) easier and more convenient. They're also the kind of thing that young folks take for granted when living with their parents!
Gardening Supplies (or a Mini Herb Garden)
Someone who's just moved into a house with a yard after living in an apartment for years might be eager to try their hand at gardening but feel intimidated about doing so. Gardening supplies (like work gloves, small shovels, vegetable and flower seed assortments, etc.) can be very encouraging, and so can a mini herb garden. Unlike a bouquet of freshly cut flowers (a traditional gift for a housewarming event), THESE items won't die and need to be thrown away within a few days.
When you've lived in the same place for a long time, it's easy to forget that, for folks who are new in town, finding restaurants and businesses to patronize can be an adventure, but trying to find a reputable plumber, mechanic, or babysitter can be a major headache. If your new neighbors are from far away, they might appreciate a list of companies/people whom you recommend to perform certain services. Who knows? Your referral may earn you a discount or other reward from that particular business!
We hope you've found this list enlightening! Just remember that the "perfect" housewarming gift is the one that your hosts will actually use and appreciate. So don't be afraid to think outside the box...unless, of course, that set of handsome Moscow Mule mugs come in an iconic, pine collector's crate!