Bread and salt. Wine. A broom or sack of flour. Honey, pineapples, even bluebirds – a symbol of happiness – have been bestowed on people moving into new homes over the centuries.
Fall is a busy time for relocating, and many people have recently done so because of pandemic-related changes in work, school and home life.
So if you’re looking for some modern housewarming presents to go with (or instead of) the traditional ones, we’ve got some suggestions from interior designers for both new renters and new owners.
AT THE FRONT DOOR
Baylee Floyd, an Orlando, Florida-based designer with the online platform Decorist, suggests giving your friends a welcome mat. “A front door mat is always a great gift – I get custom, monogrammed mats made to help them really make their place feel like home,” she says.
Elysia Home’s Letterfolk doormat comes with a bag of 75 hexagonal penny tiles, so the new renters or owners can create their own welcoming message.
Leia T. Ward, founder of LTW Design in New Canaan, Connecticut, likes the idea of giving a little connectivity.
“An Alexa or an Echo (may) seem random,” she says, “but it’s great for those extra spaces that homeowners typically don’t tend to buy smart speakers for, like a patio, garage, home office or bathroom.”
Or how about a house key locator?
"A GPS finder for their keychain is a great housewarming gift,” Ward says. “It seems random and unimportant until that one time they actually need it.”
If they’ve already got the finder, you might update the keychain itself by getting one that’s monogrammed. Mark & Graham offers leather tasseled ones in Kelly green, black, red or blush.
If the newly moved are going for a boho décor vibe, consider Natural Life’s hand-painted wood flower hooks, which could go next to the door, on a porch wall or really anywhere.
FOR THE WALLS
Seattle designer Elizabeth Herrera suggests a customized house portrait. “Upload a special photo to www.minted.com, and they’ll create a letterpress or standard printed drawing,” she says. You can choose frame style, mat and size when you order.
If the recipients have moved to Chicago, New York City, San Francisco or Texas, Minted’s designers have created cool toile papers for each of those cities, offered in framed pin boards perfect for kitchens or home offices.
Chatbooks, which lets you connect your Instagram or camera roll to create photo books, prints or cards, has a wall-tile option too. Have the images printed on square canvas frames with moveable adhesive backing; perfect for renters.
Whispart on Etsy will create a personalized heart or house-shaped map of the new digs; add as many details as you want, then download and frame.
City dwellers might love a soft plush pillow in the shape of a tropical leaf or succulent, from Green Philosophy Co; they’ve partnered with nonprofit Trees for the Future, so pillow and throw sales support planting initiatives worldwide.
Another eco-friendly idea: The Polished Jar offers reusable bottles for personal and house products like soaps, lotions, etc. Choose plastic or glass, and you can further customize with a snazzy metallic or matte black pump, plus a waterproof label. Available singly, or in bundles that include a stylish tray.
Bring some pleasing fragrance into the new home with Otherland’s Manor House Weekend soy-based candle collection. The fall version has notes of smoky maple, cardamom, toasted nuts, pear and apple.
Homesick’s New Home candle, a blend of jasmine, cedarwood, lime and sandalwood, can be customized with a personal message on the jar label.
If you know your recipients well enough to buy them a gift that revisits them every month, a subscription box might be good. There are lots of options, and they can take the guesswork out of decorating.
“I love to give friends with new homes a monthly holiday décor subscription box,” says Floyd. “Because it’s either their first home and they don’t have many decorations, or they just don’t have the time to decorate for the holidays having just moved in.”
Boise, Idaho, designer Mikayla Keating had a suggestion for flower and plant lovers in either houses or apartments.
“Fresh flowers always make a new home feel inviting and put together,” she says. At Bloomsy Box, a bouquet is sourced from fair trade farms, wrapped in eco-friendly paper and shipped each month. Subscription options include pet-safe bouquets and mixed arrangements, as well as one inspired by the New York Botanical Garden; a portion of its sales helps support the Garden’s work on plant science and conservation.
For folks wanting easy, low-maintenance plants, The Sill has several subscription options.
Are the new residents art lovers, but have none?
“A great way for your friends to decorate their home is with an art subscription,” says Keating. “This is ideal when you’re unsure of their style, or if they have a hard time choosing artwork themselves.”
A gift card lets them sign up at Art Crate, fill out the style quiz, and an in-house curator will help them choose a fine art print by an indie artist; they choose the size and format, and they can cancel whenever they decide their walls are happy.
Tabletop items, wall art and throw pillows are among the possible goodies in one of the seasonally curated boxes from Decocrated.
COOKING AND ENTERTAINING
Knife blocks and cheeseboards are classic housewarming gifts. If you want to take it up a notch, consider Crate & Barrel’s monogrammed serving board made of mango wood, marble, and inlaid brass for the initial. The retailer also has Schmidt Brothers Cutlery’s tabletop and wall-mount knife holders, crafted of warmly hued acacia wood.
Or consider Material Kitchen’s reBoards, cutting boards made of recycled plastic and sugarcane, and offered in a rainbow of beautiful hues.
KitchenAid’s Artisan Series limited edition Light and Shadow stand mixer has the “wow” factor; the base is a creamy milkshake hue, and the bowl is matte black, textured with a studded design that’ll have your recipients wanting to feature it front and center on the kitchen counter.
That milky hue is also offered on a slim yet powerful semi-automatic espresso machine, blender, and coffee grinder from KitchenAid.
Mark & Graham’s got several chic serving trays, pitchers and throw blankets that can be personalized in a variety of fonts.
New Jersey-based gift shop Wildwood House offers finely carved maple, cherry or walnut bottle stoppers made in Maine by Captain John Coppola, who was taught wood turning by the shop’s co-owner’s dad. Here too are eye-catching woven baskets, great as catch-alls in any room. Purchases help support the baskets’ artisans in North Ghana’s Bolgatanga farming region.
Or consider some chic backyard picnic supplies, like a personalized rattan tote, wine and cheese backpack, steel or copper growler, acrylic glasses and linen napkins, all with monograms available.
Kim Cook, The Associated Press