So, your friend has just moved into the house of their dreams (whether that’s a new-build with a partner, or a flatshare that has finally a tumble dryer). But choosing a housewarming gift is a knotty prospect. If you choose something too practical, it can seem impersonal. But going with something too design-led has its own pitfalls: No one wants to arrive with something jewel-hued and maximalist, only to be greeted by sweeping neutrals and a single minimalist chair.
To help you celebrate your pal’s new place with something that won’t end up relegated to a cupboard, we asked 12 cool homeowners and renters – including interior designers and a landscape architect – about housewarming gifts across all budgets, whether it be a bouquet that lasts up to a year, a candle that doesn’t scream ‘I panicked, okay,’ or something a bit more unexpected (but no less foolproof).
This mouth-blown glass carafe is a favourite gift of writer and content editor Jemal Polson. He says that it’s not “something you might necessarily need” but “something that is always nice to have.” It’s also versatile, as “you can fill it with wine, water, or fancy oil” or use it as a vase. Its contemporary design and striking, pure crystal stopper is another pro, says Polson: “I’m always drawn to carafes with a round bottle stopper as I find the combination of an angular bottle and round top really visually appealing.”
Strategist UK editor Ailbhe Malone bought this designy carafe for a friend’s wedding, but we think it would be an equally stylish housewarming gift, too. Malone said she was looking for something stylish that was also easy to put away and notes that it would be suitable for water, wine, and even cold brew.
“I didn’t think you could beat fresh flowers as a gift,” says Fiona Mostyn, who works in interior-design marketing, “until I stumbled across Shida Preserved Flowers.” Brilliantly, these clever bouquets “last for up to a year at home” and can be directly posted to your pal’s new place. “I love the grown-up, pared-back style of their all-green bouquets like the ‘Conversation,’” says Mostyn, “and the idea that over a year you can move the bouquet around the house to refresh a different room from time to time.”
“We’ve had a couple of highly questionable housewarming gifts that have ended up having ‘unfortunate accidents,’” says Andy Whiting, who is in the process of renovating an 1887 seaside cottage with his partner, David. “If you don’t know the style of the new home or the new homeowners plans for it, you can end up unwittingly giving a dud gift,” he warns. He suggests that you stick to something that nods to a “strong interior moment,” while still being a crowd-pleaser. These contemporary, fluted glass tea lights fit the trend, without being too bold (and potentially unwelcome) a statement. They can also be used “as tumblers for drinks, or to hold nuts or olives.”
“When people move into a new home, they always go through an extended period of terrible decoration, because you just don’t have time to think about it with all the big furniture pieces that need sorting,” says Alex Batten, who has owned a house since 2013 and is now in the process of renovating a second property with his partner. “But this terrarium with a self-contained watering system looks after itself, bringing beauty into a new home with minimal fuss.”
Candles and scents
Landscape architect Peter Sharp knows all about sculpting sensual, fragrance-filled outdoor spaces – and how to bring that feeling indoors. “My Muji diffuser immediately adds atmosphere and makes my space smell amazing,” he says. There are cheaper diffusers you can get, but the Muji one “is the classic option,” has a soothing ambient glow, and uses ultrasonic waves to vaporise the water and the essential oil in the tank into a dry, intensely fragrant mist. What you fill it with also makes a huge difference: “I’ve got a few amazing scents from Earl of East, but my favourite is Shinrin-Yoku, which smells like a walk in an aromatic forest after a rainstorm.”
“Everyone has a different taste when it comes to the interior design and furnishings of their new home,” says Ivana Linder, the co-founder of interior design firm, Studio Identity. “But everyone universally loves a nice-smelling home, so candles are an incredibly safe option.” Her favourite pick is Diptyque’s 34 Boulevard St Germain candle, which, along with smelling amazing, “looks great and complements any style of interior.” You can choose a larger-sized candle as a splurge gift, which is “perfect for exteriors or as a statement in a room.”
“You can’t go wrong with some nice smellies as a housewarming gift,” agrees Whiting, “as long as you don’t consider anything that feels too like a plasticky air freshener an appropriate option.” There are plenty of options out there that look luxe, smell lovely, and “you don’t need a mortgage to pay for them.” St Eval is Whiting’s “go-to brand” for just these reasons, and the Bay and Rosemary range is his top pick – and the company’s best-selling fragrance line. You can also pick according to your budget, from a £3.50 tea light to a £50.51 hamper.
Noble Isle is Whiting’s other favourite home-scenting brand, particularly its hand washes, which he and his partner have loved ever since “discovering it in a restaurant loo on holiday in Norfolk some years ago.” Golden Harvest – which uses three English grape varieties plucked from Canterbury vines to create a dewy fruit fragrance tempered with earthy, woody notes – is “a particular favourite.” Andy’s other tip is to check the brand’s bespoke gift-set options, “which elevate the present even more.”
Food and drink
Strategist staff writer Chris Mandle likes gifting olive oils as both wedding and housewarming presents. “It’s a little bit more interesting than a bottle of alcohol and more sensitive to sober friends, too,” he says. “Unlike niche foodie gifts, like a pasta-maker or a ravioli cutter, which might sit in a drawer for months on end, a good olive oil is going to get drizzled on all manner of things.” He likes this Frantoio Muraglia oil, which he was gifted himself, and notes the oil has cropped up in several episodes of Nigella Lawson’s At My Table.
“Honestly, a soda stream is the best gift I’ve ever been given,” says actor, podcaster, and renter Lewis Chandler. “You will never have to worry about a mixer for your vodka ever again and sparkling water is just classy. It says, ‘I am an adult, my water has bubbles.’” The Spirit starter pack has everything you need to get instant bubbles, and refilling your gas cylinder is super-easy — you just post back your old container to be exchanged when you’re done. “Plus, being able to offer your new houseguests ‘still or sparkling’ like you’re the hot new restaurant in town is priceless.”
“This is the Rolls-Royce of glasses,” says Ken Menager, who has just bought a house and holds a WSET Level Three wine qualification. Zalto glasses are used extensively in restaurants and bars, and are beloved by wine professionals. Menager says “they will honestly change your drinking experience.” While having been expressly designed to maximise the taste and smell of wine, they are “so thin and delicate” that they have a “tendency to break if not handled carefully,” warns Menager. But this means “if your homeowner already has them, they still will be pleased to have new ones because they break easily.”
If you’re looking for a more budget option, Menager says Stolzle’s red wine glasses are “ideal for parties if you don’t want to use your Zalto.” He picked them after extensive research, as they were “among the cheapest out there, very resistant, and dishwasher-safe,” while still being high quality enough to not impact the drinking experience. They’re just an all-around great buy: “For a good set of six wine glasses, you usually need to spend at least £50,” says Ken.
“People always want to drink champagne in their new home,” says Batten, “but their glasses might be in their boxes somewhere, so a few Champagne glasses are always a great gift idea.” Batten’s favourites are coupes (which can double as cocktail glasses, too), “because everyone always has flutes anyway.” John Lewis always has a great range to choose from, from budget-friendly but sophisticated to some “really sensational crystal stuff.”
“Every new household needs Champagne glasses,” agrees Linder, though her pick comes from indie brand Ferm Living. Her favourite coupes are made from mouth-blown, ripple-effect glass. “And when you bring them with you as a housewarming gift, there is a good chance that you will get to give the new glasses a test run with your friend too.”
“I would always go for really luxurious white fluffy towels or a bathrobe as a gift,” says Ellie Tabrizi, a marketing exec who’s just bought her first home. “They’re something you might not prioritise buying for yourself when you move in somewhere but are so nice to have.” Tabrizi’s are all from the White Company, which she calls “such a luxurious place for homewares.” As well as being “a reliable brand,” the company is “known for its super-soft, extra-fluffy towels” that last for ages without getting rough or thin.
Wool blankets came up a lot as a good gift, including this one recommended by Batten from Irish brand McNutt. “It makes the house cosy automatically, even if your friend doesn’t have their things unpacked yet,” he says. Each blanket is designed and woven on the Donegal coastline, using 100 percent wool, merino lambswool, or cashmere.
Editor’s note: This product is currently sold out.
Another throw option comes from Mostyn, who is a “huge fan” of Luks Linen’s offering: “I’m all about things being beautiful and practical and these organic cotton peshtemals fit those requirements exactly.” She uses hers around the house “as throws on beds and sofas, picnic blankets and tablecloths and they’re also great as towels.” If a friend doesn’t want to use it at home, it can also double as a “great wrap for a chilly evening.”
“No one thinks they need an electric blanket,” says illustrator and animator, Natalya Lobanova, “until they have it then they can’t live without it.” This specific electric blanket “has a built-in timer so you won’t ever fall asleep and wake up later overheated,” something that’s happened a few times to Lobanova with previous models. “It’s just the most luxurious thing ever to get into an already toasty bed, and I use it almost all year-round.” she says. Plus, it’s “great to use as a heating pad when you have period cramps!”
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