Housewarming Party Etiquette and Housewarming Gift Ideas

Housewarming Party Etiquette and Housewarming Gift Ideas: How Should You Celebrate Moving to a New Home?

Friends of mine recently moved about an hour to the north, making it easy for us to continue our friendship, despite the miles that now lie between our two homes.  The first time we went to visit them in their new home, I wondered whether I needed to take a housewarming gift and what would be the best type of housewarming present I should bring.

Since here at Soundbuilt Homes we specialize in all that goes before people welcome friends and family members to their new homes in Thurston, Pierce and King County, it made me think: What is appropriate in terms of housewarming gift etiquette and how can you help friends celebrate a move to a new home?

For instance, in the case of baby and bridal showers, it’s technically considered bad manners to throw a party for oneself, or even for an immediately family member (although it is often done anyway).  Baby and bridal shower etiquette says that someone outside of these parameters should host the shower.

When it comes to etiquette for housewarming parties and housewarming gifts, do the same rules apply?

Not necessarily.

For instance, you can and should host your own housewarming party for friends and family.  The purpose should be to welcome friends and family to your new home, with the idea being that you plan to extend hospitality to friends and family not just at your housewarming party, but in the years to come.  It says that your home is a place where friends and family are, and will be, welcome.

Should you register for housewarming gifts, like you would for a baby shower or bridal shower?

Housewarming party etiquette experts say this is ok, but many agree that it’s a bit – er – tacky.  A good rule of thumb might be that you don’t ever invite people to a party and then tell them, by including registry information, for instance, that they’re expected to bring you a gift.

So if you do decide to register for gifts prior to your housewarming party, don’t include registry information in invitations. If someone asks for a gift suggestion or about the colors you have in your new home, then you can tell them where you’re registered.

Bottom line: A party invitation should never be accompanied by “and bring me presents!”

When should you have your housewarming party, before or after you’ve furnished your new home?

Either.  If you want to throw a party in your new home while it’s still empty, you lessen your chances of having furniture stained from spills and you also have the advantage of wide open spaces for dancing and mingling. On the downside, having a housewarming party in an empty house will require that you bring in tables, chairs, catered refreshments and other guest comforts.

What type of refreshments should I serve at my housewarming party?

Depending on the time of day you have your housewarming party, and its duration, there are no hard and fast rules about what food or drink you need to serve at your housewarming party. Unless you specify that you are serving a whole breakfast, lunch or dinner, your housewarming guests will likely assume that light refreshments (which may or may not include alcoholic beverages) will be served, and plan accordingly.

Obviously having your housewarming event catered would make your life easier, as you will likely be busy enough with cleaning, decorating and other pre-party tasks. But if this isn’t within your budget or you simply love to cook and entertain, there’s no reason you can’t handle this on your own.

To serve guests, consider setting up a hospitality station with a food buffet and separate bar area for drinks.  To lessen the chance for spills, consider hiring or appointing a bartender for your event to supervise pours and prevent any over-serving of alcohol.

What types of things make great housewarming party presents or hostess gifts? 

  • Gift cards or gift certificates to restaurants you’re fairly certain that your hosts will enjoy.  If you don’t know whether they would enjoy a certain restaurant, don’t regift a card you already have just to avoid buying a gift. As with any gift, you should give something that the recipient will want and appreciate.
  • Gift cards to a home improvement store, such as Lowes, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, etc.
  • Gift cards to stores specializing in home décor such as Pier 1 or Bed, Bath and Beyond, or to one of your hosts favorite local specialty boutiques.
  • Monogrammed or personalized picture frames.  Decorative frames if you are confident that you know your hosts decorating tastes and interior paint colors.
  • Monogrammed or personalized glasses, a welcome mat or another household item.
  • Tools (if you know they need them, especially for first time home buyers).
  • Coffee table gift quality books, such as a coffee table book about a special interest or hobby of your host, or a regional recreation area (like Mt. Rainier for someone buying a new home in King County or Pierce County, WA), history of the area  or local attraction (like the Space Needle for someone buying a new home in the Seattle area).
  • Flowers and plants.
  • A nice bottle of wine or champagne, provided that you know your hosts drink wine or champagne.  And please note that 2 buck chuck is not appropriate as a housewarming gift. A housewarming present of wine or champagne should be of a vintage good enough for a celebration.
  • Party table wares such as serving dishes or specialty food serving sets (like a cheese board or ice cream sundae set).  The only disclaimer here is that unless your hosts have a peculiar decorating style of which you are aware, any serving piece or table wares you give should be fairly neutral in color and design, or returnable, along with a gift receipt.