The New Rules of Housewarming Parties: Should You Register for Gifts?

If you want to celebrate your new digs with a party, your guests may bring gifts. But before you invite friends and family over for food and fun, here’s what you need to know about a housewarming.

1. Should I register for my housewarming?

The pros of registering for any occasion (bridal shower, baby shower, wedding) is that your guests can easily see what you want or need. The cons? Since there isn't a standard tradition of registering for a housewarming, you risk offending your guests. If you do decide to register, do not include it on your invitation.


2. But why do so many retailers have this registry category now?

Housewarming registries are trending, and sites like MyRegistry.com make it easy to create a list of items culled from your favorite stores. Keep in mind that while this eases stress on anyone purchasing a gift, it still doesn't make the practice right in the eyes of Miss Manners.


3. How can I let people know what I want?

The truth is, you shouldn't be telling them! A gift is voluntary (that's what the word means), and it's not part of an admission fee to your fete. Most people will bring a small token to congratulate you on your new home — without you asking for it.


4. But I'm a single woman who just bought a house; I didn't receive any gifts from a bridal shower or wedding…

Even in this case, it's still considered tacky to register for gifts. Our advice: Celebrate your accomplishment with a party where you can share your new space with your favorite people. According to EtiquetteDaily.com, “the rules of a housewarming party are that it is held by the new homeowners to welcome friends and family to their new home, to give tours and receive compliments, and to serve food and have friends help 'warm' their residence with their caring and affection."


5. What information should I put on my invitation?

Give your guests the date and time range, and your new address. Don't forget to tell them how they can contact you to RSVP – knowing how many guests are attending will help you be fully stocked with food and drinks.


6. I'm attending a housewarming; what sort of gift is appropriate?

Your mother will tell you the traditional gifts are bread and salt (yawn), but these days popular gifts range from a bottle of wine and cookware to a monogrammed present with the homeowner's initials on it. Remember: With any occasion, your gift should reflect your relationship with the recipient, so what's appropriate for your best friend is probably not a great gift for your boss.


7. What should I do if I really can't afford a gift right now?

Has your spring been a marathon of bridal showers, weddings and new babies? Did you just attend what feels like your millionth shower and you're feeling broke? A handwritten note (not an email or a text) congratulating the new homeowner is a thoughtful gesture.


8. Should I have my housewarming party before or after I've furnished my new home?

Either! If you throw a party in your new home while it's barely furnished, you have the advantage of lots of open space for dancing and mingling, and you lessen your chances of having your furniture stained from spills. But since the purpose of the party is to welcome your loved ones to your new pad, a furnished and decorated house delivers that “wow" factor.


9. Who should host?

It's most common to host your own housewarming, but you can always relinquish your responsibilities to a good friend or family member. Whoever plays host will send out the invitations and plan the festivities, including your cocktails and food.


10. Can a renter have a housewarming party?

If you've moved but not bought, just throw a party without the pretenses of it being a housewarming party. Your friends and family can still bring gifts if they want, but they won't feel obligated to buy a present for a “landmark" experience like the purchase of a house.