Tired of toting a bottle of wine or a set of decorative tea towels to every friend’s new apartment? Whether they’re smart enough to actually throw a housewarming shindig or you’re just one of those people who are genetically programmed never to arrive at someone’s house for dinner empty-handed, it can be tough to find thoughtful presents the recipients will actually want to use.
So instead of hitting the wine shop on your way to the party, try one of these nine housewarming gift ideas, each guaranteed to get you invited back!
1. Cheese knives
These gorgeous knives combine three of my favorite things: mixed metals, feathers, and cheese! Even if your host already has a set (and odds are, she doesn’t), I can pretty much guarantee they’ll end up in the garage sale pile once she sets eyes on these!
2. Double-duty cutting board
A slab of wood may not seem like much, but I tell you, I’ve given this very gift multiple times to rave reviews, and keep hoping (in vain) that someone will regift it to me one day.
These rough-cut boards are the ultimate host multitasker: use them to serve cheese or hors d’oeuvres, as a cutting board you can leave on the counter, or as a trivet that isn’t a total waste of space.
3. Pretty pitcher
A vase can be a bit of a space-suck, especially in a small home, so when you bring over flowers, perch them in a pretty pitcher instead.
I love using pitchers as vases — they’re fantastically useful to have around, and you can find one to suit literally anyone’s taste and budget.
4. Coffee-table books
No matter how many I accumulate, I always welcome a new coffee-table book with open arms. They’re gorgeous, easy to decorate with, and one of those things I’ll never splurge on for myself. Pick a title that fits their interests and is sure to inspire conversation.
Of course, this one works only if your friend is a foodie, but I love gifting cookbooks. Pick a cuisine you know she loves, or a book you’ve found particularly useful in your own culinary life.
Even better, include a little note in the front about the recipes you’ve tried and loved.
6. Magazine subscription
Moving means waiting months for your magazine subscriptions to catch up — torture for those of us who are compulsive mail-checkers.
Help your friends out with a subscription to a must-read title that’s inspired you lately, or to a local or regional magazine that will help them feel more at home. Bring the most recent issue with you and attach a little note letting them know you’ve started them on the road to being in the know.
The stress of moving brings out the heavy drinker in all of us, but odds are, their bar is still buried under a mountain of packing paper.
Skip the usual bottle of wine and bring over a bottle of your favorite bourbon (and some glasses if they’re still unpacking), and you’ll be the hero of the hour.
8. Free food
One of the sweetest housewarming gifts I’ve ever received was a gift card to the giver’s favorite restaurant in the city I’d just moved to. It immediately made me feel loved and like I was on my way to becoming a local. Plus, it gave me an excuse to treat my homesick self to a fancy night out for no reason at all.
9. The inside scoop
Whenever a new friend moves to town, the first thing I do is give her a list of my favorite haunts. Where to get her dry cleaning done, which nail salon won’t shred her cuticles, which restaurants have the best happy hours, and which coffee shops are open late … all those necessary details that take you years to learn when you move somewhere new.
Print out a list, pair it with a few takeout menus from your favorite neighborhood restaurants, and your newcomers will feel more at home right away. (Bonus: it’s free!)
Now let’s dish: What’s the best housewarming gift you’ve ever received?