It happens. People buy houses. Sometimes you know them well, sometimes you hardly know them at all. Then they have a housewarming party. What sort of present do you buy for them? How much money should you spend? What if you really want to stay away from an impersonal gift card? These questions have sent me into a panic in the past.
The amount of money you spend is entirely subjective and up to you. Though I believe that the less money you spend, the more thought you need to put into the gift. I know I would rather receive a $20 coffee table book than get a card with a rumpled $20 shoved inside. The former says that you care about the person enough to shop for something that you thought they might like, even if you are working with a limited budget. The latter? Well, that says you didn't spend all your money at the bar last night.
1) Wreath for the front door. When we bought our first house many years ago, it was in the late autumn, right before the holiday season kicks into full gear. One of the nicest housewarming presents I received was a fresh wreath to hang on the front door. It was handmade and beautiful, perfect for our first Christmas in the house when our cash- strapped selves were not going to be buying any extras.
I like this present because you can make it yourself, it is disposable and it can be hung on any door. If the new homeowner does not like the wreath for their front door, they can politely hang it on their back door or an interior door or wall, where ever they desire.
If it is near the holidays you might want to get them an ornament for their Christmas tree commemorating their first Christmas in their new home. it might sound kitchsy now, but I assure you that in years to come they will treasure it.
2) Plants. The potted variety are usually best. Don't forget to also pick out a nice pot. If you know that they are avid gardeners why not get something they will enjoy for years to come like a rosebush or some perennial bulbs.
3) Are they first-time home dwellers? Meaning they have recently moved from apartments? Some yard tools are always appreciated. A weed whacker, rakes, gardening tools like this cute garden gift set, etc. You can chip in with a few friends and buy them an outdoor grill or lawnmower, too.
4) Strapped for cash yourself? Offer your services. Buy an empty paint can, fill with a paint stirrer, some paint brushes and make a coupon offering your painting services. I can tell you from experience that having a friend help paint makes the job so much less tedious.
5) If they are new to the area consider a GPS for their car. Program in all of your favorite places, shopping centers, and emergency rooms. You can go in on one of these with a friend or two to make it much more affordable. Speaking as someone who has recently moved across the country, I can tell you that I have found my GPS indispensable.
A much less expensive version of this idea for people on an extreme budget -- college students I am looking at you -- is a 3-ring binder filled with local attractions, restaurant menus, and maps. Collect these items and store them inside plastic sleeves in a-3 ring binder.
6) Welcome mat. I bought a friend one that said "Happily Ever After." The choices are endless and you are not confined to one that simply says "Welcome." If your friend has their heart set on something else for her front door, no need to fret. A door mat can go at the backdoor, the garage entrance, the mudroom. I'm not sure that you can ever have too many mats on which to wipe off your feet.
7) Basket of kitchen utensils. Think of things that they might not buy for themselves. The Pampered Chef catalog is a great place to start. A pizza stone, along with some other pizza-making goodies and a cookbook on making pizza would be a great themed basket.
So tell me, what are your ideas for a great housewarming present?