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The Best Housewarming Gifts, According to Cool Homeowners (and Renters)

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So your friend signed a lease on a new apartment or, after years of sharing a bedroom wall with their kitchen, just got the keys to their first house. Wherever they’ve landed, kind friend that you are, you want to get them a thoughtful housewarming gift. But which approach do you take? Do you go with something that matches their aesthetic, or something practical that you know they’ll use for years? Is it a functional gift, or one that sets a mood? Should you choose something for the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, or the living room?

To help you find housewarming gifts that your recipient will treasure, we asked over two dozen stylish homeowners and renters — including some with day jobs as interior designers, musicians, and chefs — about the best housewarming gifts they’ve ever received, as well as ones they’ve given that have gone over well. The 38 ideas below are all under $100 and include options for practically every budget, home size, and décor style.


This fancy plastic cutting board from Strategist-approved brand Hay comes in two unexpected shades, peach and light yellow, and can pull double duty as a cheese plate. Elizabeth Jaime, a floral designer and the owner of Miami’s Calma flower store, likes them because “They’re not your typical wood board.”

For something even more festive, check out these cutting boards from Fredericks and Mae. Made from a recycled material that gives them a “confetti” effect, they’re available in multiple colorways, sizes, and designs and are attractive enough to be used for serving.

While tap water is usually perfectly fine to drink, it’s never a bad idea to filter it, especially if your giftee is not so confident about the state of their new home’s pipes. Kelly Zutrau, the lead singer and songwriter for the band Wet, told us about this nice-looking LifeStraw pitcher she settled on after trying a water cooler (“expensive and wasteful”), a Brita filter (“foggy and mossy-looking eventually”) and bottled water (“the most expensive and wasteful”). “It makes the water taste very clean,” she says, and “its sleek chamber fits perfectly on the top shelf of my fridge.”

Salt-and-pepper shakers like these checkerboard enamel ones make for a gift that’s practical but still shows some personality. Home decorator Carrie Carrollo fondly remembers receiving them shortly after she moved into a new apartment: “I was in the thick of decorating, looking for accents to bring the space together, and surprisingly, these changed the entire look and feel for the best,” she says.

For freshly cracked pepper, consider a stylish pepper mill like this brass one that’s made in Greece by a small, family-run business. Canyon Coffee founders Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz say it’s one of the best housewarming gifts they received after moving into their Echo Park home, thanks to its functionality and how nice it looks on a dinner table.

I personally love giving nice food storage containers when visiting a friend’s new home, because it’s not necessarily something people invest in themselves. Tiffany Thompson, the founder of Portland-based residential-design firm Duett Interiors, is of the same mind, and her go-to set is from Scandinavian design firm Rosti Mepal, which she promises will “make any refrigerator look organized and beautiful.”

For folks who are especially excited to kit out their very own kitchens, this Lodge cast-iron skillet is a true workhorse (not to mention our best-in-class pick). Eager home chefs can use it to sear, sauté, braise, fry, and bake, plus it’s near-indestructible — and super affordable, too.

Or, if your giftee is really starting from scratch and you want to give a whole set, chef Jeremy Blutstein recommends this under-$100 five-piece bundle that comes with a griddle, Dutch oven, and a smaller skillet (in addition to the size above). “It will last a lifetime,” he told us, citing the cookware’s superior heat retention and durability.

This seed sprouter would make a great gift for urban-farmer types who suddenly have a lot more windowsill space. New York–based stylist Mecca James-Williams likes it for growing greens, chives, and cress.

Helena Barquet and Fabiana Faria, owners of New York City’s beloved design shop Coming Soon, suggest giving these playful cocktail napkins from Pon the Store (which was opened by their friend and former colleague). “They’re not paper-thin or transparent and have good absorbency,” says Barquet, adding that “they make for a great Instagram moment.”

Perfect for ad hoc dinners before they’ve even finished unpacking, these French tear-a-sheet linen napkins were first recommended to us by Vogue sustainability editor Tonne Goodman, who says she also considers them indispensable during the holidays.

Dusen Dusen is known for its beautiful prints on everything from bedding to towels. But Barquet and Faria singled out these oven mitts as an especially cute housewarming gift: “I particularly like the size. A lot of times oven mitts are so big that your hand gets lost in them, and they’re not actually easy to use. Not the case here,” says Barquet.


A bunch of people we consulted told us that blankets make great gifts because they can quickly make a new home feel more cozy. Strategist writer Emma Wartzman loves this cotton knit throw from West Elm that comes in nine vibrant colors (and is machine-washable), but for something more design-y, Thompson’s pick is this one from Cold Picnic emblazoned with an abstract leopard print.

Lots of our homeowners also suggested giving coffee-table books. James-Williams told us that Taschen’s African Interiors is one of the best housewarming gifts she has received and that it quickly became a “source of inspiration” when she was redesigning her new apartment. “The text and imagery bring you into these glorious homes across the continent of Africa,” she says.

For display-worthy books (like the one above), equally eye-catching bookends make for an unusual gift. These lucite bookends from Poketo have recently been Carrollo’s go-to gift because she says their simple shape has a “certain chicness,” and the fact that they’re “totally colorless means you won’t have to worry about clashing,” she says.

As long as you know that the recipient has a proficient green thumb, a plant can be a thoughtful gift. Instead of the ubiquitous fiddle leaf, consider giving a tree, like this Meyer lemon tree, which can thrive both indoors and outdoors — and bear literal fruit — with the right care. Says author Rachel Khong, who recently bought a house: “A tree seems more meaningful than something random, and we can think of the giver as we watch the tree grow.”

If bestowing a fruit-bearing plant upon a friend feels too intense, a money tree is another (productive) option that’s meant to bring wealth. Thompson says the custom is for a recipient to “stick a dime in the soil” to ensure an abundance of prosperity.

This cordless, portable, USB-rechargeable lamp “looks like an objet d’art,” according to former Strategist writer Chloe Anello, and will give your new homeowner flexibility while they figure out a permanent lighting scheme.

Reliable coasters like these minimalist leather ones take the stress out of hosting a party in a home that might have just been freshly appointed with new furniture. Art director Sandrine Somé likes that they’re untreated, which allows them to patina beautifully over time.

A plunger is as unsexy a gift as they come, but in a water-closet pinch, there’s no alternative to save yourself from embarrassment. If your recipient is the type who appreciates cheeky design, they’ll take pleasure in unclogging the loo with this acrylic-handled plunger that Barquet and Faria say “works really well” — in addition to being actually attractive.

Continue the bathroom whimsy with this toilet-bowl cleaner disguised as a sculpture of a cherry. “If you’re invited to someone’s housewarming, that probably means you’ll be back and using their bathroom at some point and you’ll want it to be clean,” says Barquet.

Candles and scents

Decorative candles and other fragrant things “set the tone for a home,” James-Williams explains. She loves soy-based candles from Strategist-approved brand Boy Smells, with her favorite scent being Kush. “It’s warm, romantic, and captivating with a smoky finish,” she says.

Both Zutrau and Thompson specifically recommended Le Labo’s Cade 26 because it’s a more unexpected choice than the brand’s popular Santal 26 scent — and “rarer,” as it was created for the Gramercy Park Hotel.

Candlesticks go a long way in setting the ambience for a dinner party, especially ones made out of beeswax, since they’re scentless — and therefore won’t mingle with the savory aromas coming out of the kitchen. Tiwa Select founder Alex Tieghi-Walker likes to add a personal touch by tying tapered candles (like these from Beverly Bees) together with string, saying that “usually people use them straight away.”

If giving an actual candle feels too obvious, James-Williams suggests a candle-wick trimmer like this one she received from a friend when she moved into her home. She says it’s the type of handy tool you might not think to get yourself, but will later wonder how you burned candles without it. “For a minute, I didn’t understand or use it properly, but now, it’s my favorite home gadget,” she says.

Sprays and diffusers are great alternative to giving candles. Jaime, who is generally “super picky” about scents, loves this Aesop spray because it helps a new place “smell like a spa” by being earthy, not overly floral, and not overpowering. “Whenever I have someone coming over, I spritz a few pumps around the house, and voilà.”

Or try incense, like the sticks that author Ottessa Moshfegh likes because “there’s something holy” about the scent, which she says helps shift how she perceives her space.

Incense deserves pride of place, too, and this Korean bathhouse–inspired, blue-marble holder is quite beautiful. Somé, who owns it herself, calls it “functional yet elegant,” noting that it “acts as a piece of home décor on its own.”

Vitruvi Stone Diffuser

A diffuser is another scent-emanating option that doesn’t involve any burning — and thus doesn’t require constant attention. James-Williams says this Stone Oil Diffuser her sister gave her is great “for a more natural home scent than candles,” adding that the brand also sells different essential oils to go with it.

Food and drink

While salt may not be the sexiest housewarming gift, if it’s Maldon and comes in a bucket, then that’s a different story. “Nice pantry items are things people wouldn’t necessarily buy themselves, but I love to give them as they last a while and look beautiful,” says Tieghi-Walker.

A seasoning pack like this set of East Asian and Southeast Asian spice kits from Omsom, a company that appears in our guide to the best edible gifts, makes it easy to start cooking even before your new homeowner has unboxed their entire kitchen. Graphic designer Naomi Otsu loves that they’re “so easy to switch up a weekday dinner — and not to mention, delicious!”

Throwing tasty nuts in a bowl is one of the easiest snacks you can serve during cocktail hour. Barquet and Faria are both obsessed with these peanuts that they put out for guests, and which Faria says “taste like really good peanut butter.”

“People won’t splurge on olive oil for their home, but it lasts a lot longer than wine does, and is also a more selfless gift than booze, which comes with the pressure to open immediately,” says Condé Nast Traveler editor Corina Quinn, who recommends Frescobaldi’s Laudemio oil for a few reasons: It’s Tuscan, well-priced, fragrant, and a hypnotizing shade of green.

Another alternative to a bottle of wine is to bring your go-to booze to a party. “It’s important to have something that feels more luxurious and interesting to open as the night winds down,” says Tieghi-Walker, who loves giving Yola Mezcal for its stylish bottle, which he reuses to water his plants once it has has been drained.

But if your recipient is a well-established wine drinker, Jones says the most thoughtful wine-related gift she has received is this trio of white wine, red wine, and rosé from Black-owned winery the McBride Sisters Collection (another company we’ve written about before). “The variety — and the fact that you’re supporting Black women — makes this different from giving a standard bottle,” she says, adding that, for three bottles, the set’s price is “very affordable as well.”

More gifts we recommend

Grown Alchemist Hand Wash

Hand soap was another popular housewarming gift suggestion, as it’s something practical that can also be a bit of a treat if the receiver isn’t one to splurge on something nicer than what they can find at the drugstore. James-Williams likes this hand wash from Grown Alchemist that has an on-trend cedarwood scent.

If you’d rather give a more traditional style of soap, Somé tells us she’s recently become obsessed with these bar soaps that are designed and crafted in Toronto. Not only do they “smell amazing,” they’re “the culmination of years of experimentation with natural ingredients” by the founders, she explains.

Board games can take a housewarming party to the next level, which is why it makes a fun gift. Emma Holland, the co-owner of brand marketing consultancy Close Personal, received Rummikub as a housewarming gift and has since decided it’s the “perfect game — easy to learn, strategic but fast-paced, and occasionally makes you feel tangled up in your own brain in the best way.”

Additional reporting by Louis Cheslaw, Emma Wartzman, and Erin Schwartz.

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The Best Housewarming Gifts, According to Homeowners