Gift-Giving Etiquette: Housewarming Gifts

Our guide to Housewarming Gift Etiquette will help you understand when and what gifts are appropriate for welcoming your family and friends into their new home or office.


Believe it or not, there is an etiquette and an art to throwing a housewarming party. Likewise, there is a housewarming gift etiquette. Renting or buying a new (or first) home is often an exciting accomplishment, though the pains of moving, packing and unpacking, can cloud one’s thrill of having more space, having a great view, or having new décor. Many people remedy the hardships of the moving process by celebrating among friends with a party or open-house, and this is when housewarming gift etiquette is necessary.


First, in terms of housewarming etiquette, there is a loose distinction between a “housewarming party” and an “open house”. Some believe the party implies that gifts are expected and some believe that an open house does not. A few simple rules to hosting a gathering to show off a new house or a new renovation include: the owner or a friend/family member of the owner may host the party; both a tour and a variety of food/snacks is customary; and gifts should not be expected but accepted with the utmost appreciation. Some people hold parties in their new apartment or home with a dual purpose, such as a garden party to enjoy the backyard on a summer night or a wine-tasting or tea party to relax on a weekend afternoon or evening.


Gift Etiquette for a Housewarming


Now that you understand the etiquette behind hosting a housewarming, you need to understand the gift etiquette for a housewarming. While gifts should not be expected and it is perfectly acceptable for guests to not bring a gift, people often want to bring something for a friend or family member. The best way to avoid confusion is to write “no gifts” on the invitation. Nevertheless, if gifts are brought, they should be received and opened after the party; remember to always send thank-you notes.


In the event that you are invited to a housewarming party, and you want to take a gift, you should not hesitate to do so. There is no standard amount of money to spend on a gift. Whether bought at a store or baked at home, gift ideas abound, from tools or kitchen utensils or baked cookies to art, wine, or a gift certificate. Remember to keep in mind the general rules of gift-giving, which suggest that gifts should always be personal and intentional.


One other nuance of housewarming gift etiquette is that some people who host their own housewarming parties register for gifts at home & garden or home-improvement stores. In general, this practice may be more common than expected, yet it is still considered in bad taste to list the registry on the party invitations. The only exception to this rule is when a friend or family member is throwing the party in honor of your new place. In this case, it may be acceptable for the friend or relative to tell guests your color scheme or your home or garden needs.