Home Goods | November 3, 2022 1:12 pm

14 Housewarming Gifts They’ll Actually Use

Skip the boring plates and cups and pick up something fresh

14 Housewarming Gifts They’ll Actually Use

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Next time you’re invited to a housewarming party, steer clear of go-to gifts like unimaginative decorative soaps. Instead, choose something the new homeowners (or renters) will actually find useful, like an eye-catching toilet brush, customizable placemat or multi-use cutting board. Not only will they think of you each time the gift serves its function, but they’ll also appreciate that it adds a dose of style to their home. Read on for some deftly designed, thoughtfully unconventional and certain-to-be-appreciated gifts that will ensure you don’t arrive empty-handed. 

There’s a time and place to be kitschy. I personally believe the dining table (something you see multiple times every day) is neither the time nor the place. These acacia wood shakers (with heavy-duty ceramic interior) will elevate any table. It has an understated elegance that’s neither too showy nor too bland. The pepper grinder can be adjusted for fine or coarse grounds so you’ll get just the right grind each time.

Sometimes a token gift is in order. Maybe you recently gave the host an expensive wedding gift and all you need is a small something to drop off. This seashell night light gives off a comforting glow and looks more expensive than it is (I saw these for $50 at tourist traps in Hawaii). Choose from conch, abalone, scallop shells and more.

In a pinch, this is my no-brainer, stalwart gift. Everyone loves Williams Sonoma and could use a new set of dish towels. The classic design goes with every kitchen and the colors are neutral enough that you can’t go astray (if you want to be extra careful go with grey or black). Dish towels get singed and stained constantly, so even if they don’t need them today, by the time the new kitchen is broken in, it’ll be time to replace the old set.

The rustic-chic finish of these four-inch bowls makes them equally appropriate in any of the eating scenes in Pachinko, or at a modern dining table. “Bap” means rice in Korean, and that’s certainly what I use them for most, but they’re also a great size for banchan and condiments when hosting dinner guests.

For hosts with kids, consider a gift that both protects their tables from sticky messes and offers a fun DIY-style craft. A riff on the brand’s customizable welcome mats, these placemats bring mosaic-creating fun to the dining room table. You can change the colorway of the tiles depending on the season and throw them in the dishwasher after messy meals.

Moving and unpacking always entails a healthy amount of schlepping. This reinforced bag on wheels will be a godsend when they have to take broken-down boxes to the recycling area, return heavy packages and cart their first load of Costco stuff into the new place. Three heavy-duty handles allow it to be dragged behind or from above, depending on how heavy the cargo is. Don’t worry if they’re tight on closet space, the Hulken folds flat and stows away compactly. It’s not a flashy gift, but it’s one they’ll be sure to find a use for right away. 

This black walnut beauty is so much more than a cutting surface, it’s also a serving tray. They can slice fruit on the angled side (which has a trench to catch liquid), and use the other to serve it. No detail was left unconsidered: it has an inset handle so they can carry that charcuterie board out to guests without sticking a thumb in the brie. 

While it might feel a bit “personal” to gift a cleaning device of this nature, it‘s worth getting over the discomfort of having a body to share this life-changing bathroom addition (with an installation time under 15 minutes). Praises of the bidet have been widely sung and if you haven’t tried it yourself, consider purchasing the two-bidet package (save $90) to get a gift for yourself at the same time. This model is cold water only, but there’s a warm water option for those who are more sensitive to temperature.

If the new home is an apartment, chances are there’s no space for an ironing board. But lack of storage doesn’t mean wrinkled clothes (or an exorbitant dry cleaning bill) is the new norm when they can replace an iron with this steamer. This press is roughly the size of a hair straightener. It has six settings for different types of fabrics and heats up in under three minutes. It can be used as an iron by pressing the plates together and pulling the fabric to remove wrinkles. You can also use it as a steamer (no direct contact with fabric).

Hosts who like to set the mood with scents will love this diffuser. You can schedule bursts of fragrance with an app, and they have over 40 scents to choose from (including a collaboration with The Laundress). They can orchestrate an elaborate olfactory performance for each day of the week. The Aera app also allows them to set a fragrance level (great for those with sensitive noses). Best of all, they’ll never worry that they forgot to blow it out. 

If you don’t know the hosts well enough to give them a bidet or toilet brush, wine may be your best bet. But instead of picking up something on the way over, give them a taste of the Michelin-starred Korean steakhouse COTE with a wine (or Champagne) gift box. The wine trio is selected by Mia Van de Water and Victoria James, COTE’s Michelin-starred and James Beard-nominated sommelier team. 

If you’re looking to splurge, get something that they’ll use for years, like this 12-piece tool set (plus toolbox!). The beauty of the Essential Set is that it comes packaged so nicely you’d think it was a beauty product. It arrives like the Operation board game with each tool nestled in a cutout just its size and labeled. As someone who used to have a handful of loose tools, upgrading to this matching set of bright green tools definitely empowered me to attack more DIY projects. If the full set costs more than you want to spend, we suggest you try the 8-piece Utility Set ($130) that comes in an equally cute canvas case.

This is the gift to give when you want to be remembered. I first saw this mesmerizing sand device at my sister’s boarding school. It was introduced to promote calm during lockdown and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The metal ball draws patterns in the sand, the speed of which you control from an app. It reminds me of a zen rock garden. But the act of watching (rather than raking the sand yourself) is what you’re meant to enjoy. Even if your hosts have everything, they’ll love this mindfulness-promoting gadget that’s sure to be a conversation piece. 

In the happy event that they’re upgrading from a one-bedroom to a two, you can help create a dream guest room with this bamboo bedding set that feels silky soft. These are my favorite sheets and the understated border of color is appropriate for virtually every interior. Note that it only has one sheet (fitted) and the antimicrobial duvet cover is meant to eliminate the need for a flat sheet.