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 direction 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 gift 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. Their 65 ideas below include options for practically every budget and home size. To make it even easier on you, if you have some sense of what you’re looking for, click on on any of the links below to jump to those specific products.
Kitchenware | Décor | Candles and scents | Food and drink | Other recommended gifts
Gifts for the kitchen were the most popular among the people we talked to. According to chef Jeremy Blutstein, the best housewarming present you can give is cast-iron cookware — specifically cookware from Lodge, which makes the cast-iron pan that Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo said is the best thing she bought in the last decade. “It will last a lifetime,” Blutstein told us, citing the cookware’s superior heat-retention and durability. Blutstein adds that Amazon offers a “crazy deal” on Lodge pans, pointing us to this under-$200, five-piece set that includes a griddle for pancakes, a Dutch oven for roasts and bread-baking, and a skillet you can use to make fish, steak, and vegetables.
If you just want to go with one Lodge piece, this is the pan Corsillo swears by. “I use it every day, would buy it over and over again, and enthusiastically recommend it to everyone I know,” she writes.
Perhaps you want to give one pan, but would prefer it be a bit more stylish. The Always Pan, according to New York–based stylist Mecca James-Williams, is “one pan that can do everything,” making it worth its higher price tag. Because it functions as eight different pieces of cookware — the pan comes with a spatula and steaming basket, is both as deep as a saucepan and as wide as a skillet, and can be used to sauté and fry — it’s also a great way to reduce clutter in a new kitchen.
This equally design-y Caraway cooking set (which comes with a handy storage rack to help minimize clutter) comes recommended by interior designer Victoria Lee Jones, who gave it to a friend who moved into her first home. “She cried,” Jones tells us. “We never imagined we’d go from the college dorm to getting excited about a new cookware sets for our homes.” While pricier than the other cookware on this list, the set includes a non-stick frying pan, saucepan, sauté pan, and Dutch oven — or every vessel a home cook might need to prepare most anything. As Jones points out, “our pots stay with us,” so investing in a nice set like this means whomever receives it can likely use it in any home they may go on to occupy down the line, too. “This set in particular,” she adds, “is extremely stylish.” If you do choose to gift it, your lucky recipient will probably appreciate knowing they have the same pots and pans as Taraji P. Henson.
A few folks we talked to recommend giving salt-and-pepper shakers. “One of my best friends sent these to my apartment shortly after I moved in,” home decorator Carrie Carrollo tells us of this set of enamel shakers in a checkerboard pattern from New York–based ceramics maker MacKenzie-Childs. “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.”
Canyon Coffee founders Ally Walsh and Casey Wojtalewicz say one of the best housewarming gifts they got after moving into their current Echo Park home is this brass pepper mill. Made in Greece, the mill grinds whole black peppercorns for that “freshly cracked” taste. Beyond its functionality, Walsh also loves how it looks on a dinner table.
Another functional piece for the kitchen that can double as table décor is this charming bottle opener from Danish design house Georg Jensen, which counts the Queen of Denmark among its clients. Furniture designer Ben Kicic says it’s what he plans to give the next friends of his who move, after spying it in the home of another pal. “I immediately asked about it,” he says. “The bottle opener has a strong graphic element, but because of its size, it’s not too loud or overbearing.”
Kelly Zutrau, the lead singer and songwriter for the band Wet, told us that a pitcher with a water filter would be a thoughtful housewarming gift, citing the hell that was dealing with her new apartment’s old pipes and “slightly brown” water. After trying a water cooler (“expensive and wasteful”), a Brita filter (“foggy and mossy-looking eventually”) and bottled water (“the most expensive and wasteful”), she did some research and found this Lifestraw pitcher. “Its two different filters make the water taste very clean,” she told us, adding that “its sleek chamber fits perfectly on the top shelf of my fridge.”
Elizabeth Jaime, a floral designer and the owner of Miami’s Calma flower store, says these fancy plastic chopping boards from Strategist-approved brand Hay make for another functional — but also stylish — housewarming gift. “They’re not your typical wood board,” she tells us, noting that “they come in the most beautiful colors.” When she’s not used as a cutting board, hers doubles as a neat tray for a cheese plate or other spread.
Helena Barquet and Fabiana Faria, owners of New York City’s beloved design shop Coming Soon, agree that cutting boards make great gifts, and recommend these colorful ones in particular, which come in multiple colorways, sizes, and designs. Like the above picks, they’re attractive enough to be used for serving. Plus, they’re created from leftover materials from making solid color boards from professional kitchens.
After the stress of moving into a new place, Jaime told us that the last thing many new homeowners (or renters) want to do is cook. That’s why she recommends giving this rice cooker, which she’s loved since her days working for Bon Appétit. “The Zojirushi is the only appliance that is allowed in my kitchen, besides a Vitamix,” she says, adding that the cooker requires a minimal amount of effort to make a great meal. “I just pop a few cups of rice into the maker, and within 45 minutes, I have the best rice ever.” For more rice cookers at various price points, check out our ranking of the best ones for every kitchen.
“I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t needed to use a KitchenAid mixer in some way,” says Jones, who notes the machine’s higher price makes it an extra-special gift, because “not everyone wants to buy this for themselves.” This Mini Mixer is slightly less expensive than the brand’s larger ones, and great for smaller spaces. “It’s half the size of the standard mixer and does the exact same job,” she promises. If you like the lower price but want to gift a larger KitchenAid stand mixer, consider a refurbished model.
“A lot of people won’t invest in beautiful storage for their foods,” says Tiffany Thompson, the founder of Portland-based residential-design firm Duet. But gifting someone this set, from Scandinavian design firm Rosti Mepal, will “make any refrigerator look organized and beautiful,” Thompson promises. If food storage sounds like something your recipient would love, we’ve written about it a lot, and suggest you explore our lists of expert-recommended meal prep and food-storage containers, top-rated food storage on Amazon, and the best bento boxes.
When James-Williams moved into her home, the most helpful housewarming gift (that she bought herself) was a sprouter, which makes it easy to grow greens and certain vegetables like broccoli, cress, and chives. “I am a big advocate of creating your own food,” she says, “and my sprouter still sits in my window,” where it can get plenty of sunlight.
If they struggle to keep herbs alive, gift them a hassle-free smart garden to keep fresh produce close at hand all year long. The AeroGarden Harvest is our best-in-class smart garden and has space for up to six plant pods.
Barquet and Faria suggest giving these playful cocktail napkins from Pon the Store (which was opened by their friend and former colleague). They’re something your recipient can use right away or save for a later party. “They’re not paper-thin or transparent,” says Barquet. “They have good absorbency. Plus, they make for a great Instagram moment.”
Perfect for ad hoc dinners during the first few days in a new home, these French tear-a-sheet linen napkins were first recommended to us by Vogue sustainability editor Tonne Goodman, who says they’re particularly indispensable during the holidays.
Dusen Dusen is known for their beautiful prints on everything from bedding to towels. But these oven mitts, Barquet and Faria say, make a particularly cute housewarming gift. “I particularly like the size,” Barquet says. “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.”
Hasegawa’s stylish ladder has “become the most frequently used piece of equipment around my apartment,” writes Strategist contributor Jinnie Lee. Useful for a ton of tasks around the house, she reports that the ladder’s aluminum-and-steel construction means that it’s “durable without being heavy.”
Lots of our homeowners also suggested decorative gifts, with three calling out coffee-table books. Books are “the centerpiece to a home,” according to James-Williams, and of course run the gamut when it comes to topics and subjects. If your homeowner is into travel or interior design, she recommends Taschen’s African Interiors, one of the best housewarming gifts she has received. “The text and imagery bring you into these glorious homes across the continent of Africa,” she says. “A real source of inspiration when redesigning an apartment.”
Art director Sandrine Somé is another fan of giving coffee-table books, and says that if she had to pick a favorite to give, it would be this one. “It’s filled with beautiful stories and photography by Kwame Brathwaite, highlighting an important cultural renaissance in Harlem during the late ’50s and ’60s.”
For the new homeowner who’s an A24 fan, this coffee-table book is an encyclopedia of offbeat movie merchandise — from a Stepford Wives frisbee to a Crocodile Dundee II pool float to Being John Malkovich nesting dolls.
If you want to be a truly helpful friend, Benjamin Glynn-Philips, the store manager at London menswear mecca Drake’s, recommends String Shelving as a truly luxurious gift. “I cannot tell you how happy it has made me since my wife and I bought our apartment,” he told us. The affordable, mid-century shelving units (which come in a range of finishes) have plenty of space for his books, photos, and ceramics, while also being nice enough to double as décor themselves.
Three folks we consulted say blankets are a great housewarming gift because they can quickly make a new home feel more cozy. “If a friend ever needs an ear, they come over and sit on my comfy couch with tea and a throw blanket,” James-Williams says. This Pendleton wool blanket is a classic — plus it’s washable, which helps if the giftee has kids or pets.
For a more DIY sensibility, Corsillo loves L.A. company Suay’s quilts made from deadstock fabric scraps. “In my opinion, the best quilts feel like an heirloom — whether they were made by someone you actually know or not,” she says. She likes that every quilt is unique, “and the colors are pleasingly acidic and faded like a treasure found in a great-aunt’s attic or at a church rummage sale.”
For a more whimsical, art-forward blanket, Thompson says this blanket from Cold Picnic would make a nice alternative to giving the brand’s beloved (but ubiquitous) bath mat. “Their fun throws can add a touch of color to any household,” she says.
Cashmere, of course, will be more of a splurge. But interior designer Delia Kenza notes that Williams Sonoma’s cashmere throws are “perfect no matter the season,” so your recipient will surely think of your generosity as they reach for it year-round. To make it even more personal, Kenza suggests paying the extra $12 to have the blanket monogrammed.
Besides death and taxes, a third certainty in life is that moving costs money. That’s why Thompson recommends giving a (live) money tree, which, in addition to being affordable, is also meant to bring wealth to the receiver. She says the custom is for a recipient to “stick a dime in the soil” to ensure an abundance of prosperity — and if that happens, they’ll really owe you a cut.
If your recipient doesn’t have a green thumb, Carrollo recommends giving a dry floral arrangement instead. “For the longest time I couldn’t be trusted with live plants, and I know I’m not alone,” she tells us. “Dry arrangements like Oat Cinnamon’s are stunning, and impossible to kill.” Those arrangements, alas, are currently sold out, but this cheery dry bouquet from Etsy has a similar bright, maximalist color palette. For more options, may we direct you to our deep dive into the best artificial plants.
Whether they’ll be filling it with real or artificial flowers, Kicic says he’s had great success gifting this Hay vase in the past. It “looks way more expensive than it is, and can work with many different aesthetics,” he says.
“If I’m giving a housewarming gift,” Carrollo says, “it’s going to be functional and decorative.” To that end, she tells us that her favorite housewarming gift to give for the past year has been these lucite bookends from Poketo. “There’s a certain chicness to how simple the shape is, and they’re totally colorless, so you won’t have to worry about clashing,” she says. If these exact bookends aren’t your jam, take a look at the others in our roundup of the best gifts for book-lovers.
Another transparent bookend, this Russell+Hazel design has space to display smaller books and printed matter — especially useful if they have a large zine collection they’ve never gotten around to organizing.
“I realize the image of me toting a mushroom-shaped lamp from room to room like a pioneer with a lantern in their wood cabin might seem ridiculous, but it makes all of the difference,” writes former Strategist writer Chloe Anello. This cordless, USB-rechargeable lamp “looks like an objet d’art,” Anello writes, and will give your new homeowner flexibility while they figure out a permanent lighting scheme.
James-Williams told us that her first housewarming gift was a piece of artwork from her mother, and that prints in general can be a thoughtful gift if you know the type of art your recipient likes. She specifically suggested gifting an affordable print from artist Kenesha Sneed, who is known for her depictions of Black female bodies and whose work has been commissioned by The New Yorker, Apple, and Netflix, to name just a few. “I appreciate how she makes art, and her color play,” she says. If the idea of giving art strikes a chord, another option to consider is this Matisse print we’ve spied in fashionable homes across the globe.
Zutrau told us not to underestimate the impact that design-y coasters can have on an apartment. “I spend my day moving around from task to task, and used to get water rings on all the wood surfaces around me,” she says. In our guide to the best expensive-looking apartment décor under $30, Areaware’s graphic tiles were praised for being “a twofer”: Alone, they provide a surface to put glasses on, but when arranged together, they form a trivet for larger pots or pans.
These slightly more expensive (and more traditional) coasters come recommended by Somé, who says they’re worth the extra money because their untreated leather construction can’t break or fade. “I’ve gone through a lot of coaster sets because they usually end up chipping,” she says, “but these ones are very minimal in style and made from a beautiful russet-colored Italian leather.” (According to the manufacturer, the leather is designed to patina gracefully, wine stains and all.) If you’re going to give coasters as a housewarming gift, Somé advises bringing some wine to christen them with, too.
These brightly colored wool coasters are especially useful on hot summer days: They “both absorb and evaporate moisture, and thus stay in perfect condition no matter how many drinks sweat on them,” says Strategist writer Emma Wartzman.
For a gift that gets equal marks for functionality and design, Barquet and Faria recommend giving this actually-attractive plunger (yes, we did put this in the décor category). “When people move, they don’t think about bringing a plunger,” Faria says. “Let’s face it: You don’t really think about it until you need one.” Jokes aside, “It also just works really well,” Barquet adds.
In a similar vein, Barquet and Faria both love 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,” Barquet says. “And you’ll want it to be clean.”
Candles and scents
While decorative candles and other fragrant things came up so many times among the people we talked to that we decided to dedicate a whole category to them. “Candles are the perfect housewarming gift,” according to James-Williams, “because they set the tone for a home.” Zutrau and Thompson specifically recommended Le Labo’s Cade 26. “The perfume is so concentrated that you only have to light it for a few minutes at a time,” according to Zutrau. “Very useful for drowning out the smells that waft around the shared entrance hallway in my apartment building.” Thompson agrees, saying that, in her opinion, “there are no better candles than Le Labo.” She adds that Cade 26 may be a more unexpected choice than Le Labo’s popular Santal 26 home scent, because it is “a rarer candle created for the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York,” but is available elsewhere.
Get in on the heirloom-tomato-scented-candle trend with this cheery, bright-red option, which features notes of tomato leaves, rhubarb, basil, thyme, and sandalwood.
James-Williams suggests soy-based candles from Boy Smells, a brand we’ve become quite familiar with since designating it as the next status candle. When it comes to which scent to give, James-Williams likes Kush: “It’s warm, romantic, and captivating with a smoky finish,” she says.
Alex Tieghi-Walker, the founder of Bay Area interior design store Tiwa Select, tells us that when he goes to housewarming parties, his go-to gift are beeswax candles tied together with string, to give the gift a personal touch. “Usually people use them straight away,” he says. When we asked cool people about the best tapered candles, Salter House owner Sandeep Salter told us she swears by these natural beeswax candles for their simple, natural color, sculptural design, and “divine” smell. If you want to give candle holders along with the candles, we’ve got you covered there, too.
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,” she tells us. “But now, it’s my favorite home gadget.”
A lot of our cool people say sprays and diffusers are great alternative to giving candles. Jaime tells us she is “super picky when it comes to scents,” but says this Aesop spray checks all her boxes. “A new place should smell like a spa,” she says, and this scent manages that 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.”
Author Ottessa Moshfegh likes this natural resin incense “because it smells like church to me — and I’m not someone who grew up going to church. There’s something holy about it,” she says, adding that the scent helps shift how she perceives her space.
Should you have the budget, a tasteful move would be to give the incense above with an incense holder, like this one that Somé recommends. “Having incense in a home induces calmness and adds texture to a space,” she says, explaining that this Korean bathhouse–inspired, blue-marble incense holder (which she owns) “is functional yet elegant, and acts as a piece of home décor on it’s own.”
James-Williams says that her sister brought this Stone Oil Diffuser into her life. “I use it for a more natural home scent than candles,” she says, adding that the brand also sells different essential oils that go with it. Strategist contributor Lindsey Weber writes about how she too “can’t stop giving oil diffusers as housewarming gifts” because their clean look makes them stylish and easy to hide — and they please even the pickiest of people.
This less-expensive, rather clinical-looking (in a good way) diffuser from the Japanese brand Puebco comes recommended by Livingston, who uses it himself. Aside from helping to set a new home’s mood, he says giving a fragrance can be quite practical, too, because it’ll “help remove the smell of fresh paint.”
Food and drink
The traditional housewarming gift of bread and salt may have fallen out of fashion, but a number of our cool people still say other edible and drinkable goods make great gifts, and Tieghi-Walker still counts salt among the pantry items he likes to give. “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,” he told us. We’ve written again and again about how we, celebrities, and chefs think Maldon salt is an essential in any pantry. According to Goodman, presenting the salt in this giant tub instead of the standard box it comes in makes it even more fun to give. “At first it seems a bit extreme, but salt fanatics do exist,” she says. “I gave it to my brother-in-law, who is a wonderful cook, and he laughed and loved it.”
Graphic designer Naomi Otsu recommends gifting this set of East Asian and Southeast Asian spice kits from Omsom, a company that appears in our guide to the best edible gifts. “These starter seasoning packets make it so easy to switch up a weekday dinner,” she says. “Not to mention, they’re delicious!”
Barquet and Faria are both obsessed with these peanuts. “They taste like really good peanut butter,” says Faria. “They have a long shelf life. It’s a fun snack to put out when you have people over. They’re just delicious.” The brand also makes peanut butter, peanut brittle, and their own take on Cracker Jack’s.
After Condé Nast Traveler editor Corina Quinn received a bottle of olive oil fresh from Italy as a gift a few years ago, she got an idea that has served her well ever since. “Fancy olive oil makes the perfect housewarming gift,” she says. “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.” Quinn recommends Frescobaldi’s Laudemio oil for a few reasons — it’s Tuscan, well-priced, fragrant, and a hypnotizing shade of green. For more giftable olive oils, check out our guide to the best olive oils, as chosen by chefs.
“Everyone has their go-to booze,” Tieghi-Walker says. But he thinks “it’s important to have something that feels more luxurious and interesting — like mezcal — to open as the night winds down.” For that reason, he believes all new homes need a bottle of mezcal close by. Tieghi-Walker says Yola Mezcal is particularly giftable thanks to its stylish bottle, which he reuses to water his plants once it has has been drained.
James-Williams also recommends alcohol as a gift — but instead of mezcal, her go-to is Clase Azul tequila. ‘The bottle is just as vibrant and rich as the contents inside,” she tells us, “and the tequila is so smooth, it doesn’t really need to be mixed with anything.”
If your recipient prefers wine to alcohol, 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 gift of wine is a blessing in itself, but 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.”
“This chili vinegar tastes like Frank’s RedHot, but so much better,” say Barquet and Faria. “The chili they use is a bit sweeter, but the overall taste is more vinegar-y. It delivers more than just heat.” It can be used on eggs, in Bloody Mary’s — pretty much anywhere. “Who doesn’t want a delicious hot sauce in their new fridge?” says Barquet.