Innapropriate Invitation: Housewarming party etiquette

by epi on August 24, 2012

Q: I have a friend who recently purchased a new home. She sent out invitations for a house-warming party and also information about where she was registered. This can’t be proper, can it?

A: Indeed, it is not — the rules of a housewarming party are that it is held by the new homeowners (or renters) 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.

Guests may or may not bring gifts. Usually guests do, most often a bottle of wine, a plant, or a loaf of bread or other food item. Housewarming gifts are usually small tokens, not major items: this is, after all, not a wedding. Mention of gifts is not made on the invitation and one does not register for gifts. A housewarming generally is held within three months or so of moving in.

{ 77 comments… read them below or add one }

Chocobo August 24, 2012 at 9:35 am

Personally I’ve shied away from even calling my first house-party a “housewarming,” since — like so many other standard parties — expectations seem to be getting out of control and more gift-focused. I think what I will do is just invite them all over, and after everyone arrives announce how nice it is to have them all here to warm the house together. That way no one feels obligated to bring an extravagant gift, and those who do anyway will have done so out of the kindness of their heart.

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Daniella August 24, 2012 at 11:01 am

Wow. That’s crazy! I can’t believe someone would actually register for a “house-warming” party. I would normally bring flowers, a plant, or a bottle of wine if I was invited to one, but none of my family or friends would ever expect a gift, let alone from a registry! lol…

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Mariette's Back to Basics August 24, 2012 at 11:18 am

At times one can not believe how far off the etiquette rules such things can be… Guess this must have been a very self-centered person.
Mariette’s Back to Basics

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Meg June 1, 2013 at 10:14 pm

I still say it depends on the different cultures.

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Lisa August 27, 2012 at 11:53 am

Not necessarily. Most likely it was unintentional. We all make mistakes and grace is the core of etiquette, so let us be gentle in correction and not harsh in judgement.

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Mercedes November 30, 2012 at 5:53 pm

From experiance I can say it was unintentional. I was not raised in a family with etiquette of old. I adore etiquette but no one taught me these things. When I moved into my first apartment my best friend sent me a little ‘new home’ package with towels and hot pads. It was adorable and so incredibly kind (even though it didnt match my decor). She bought her house before I moved into that apartment, and I didnt send her a gift because I didnt know that was something one should do. From that moment on, I realized how right it seems to give a house warming gift. Also, I come from the feeling that money spent on something that ones not going to use or like can be wasteful – and therefore am not completely convinced that a Registry is a terrible thing to mention. If I was going to a housewarming party for a friend – I would much rather purchase some plates or towels from their registry knowing that they will truly love them, than bring them something they wont use or wont match their decor. That being said, it makes me uncomfortable to mention where we’d be registered because if someone cant afford a gift I would never wish them to feel uncomfortable or end up not coming at all to spare their embarressment. But on a ‘third hand’, I feel if friend or family member is offended or thinks we are being outrageous because we mentioned a registry, then I almost would rather they not come. They are supposed to be, after all, a friend or family member. People who adore you, are happy for you and dont misunderstand your mention of a registry for being self centered, because this day and age many find Registries very convienent and thoughtful of their hosts. Just my thoughts! <3

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Erica July 30, 2013 at 3:12 pm

I COMPLETELY AGREE……….I don’t think ANYONE who has a registry for a housewarming does it with the intention of being obnoxious; I think it’s just a way to keep from having a bunch of items they may not want or use!

I’m moving into a first apartment soon and have been guests of both types of housewarmings myself; I don’t see a problem with either!!

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Shannon February 5, 2013 at 5:29 pm

The only thing I see that was unacceptable is if the friend was hosting her own housewarming party, but even so I think we live in a time when the rules are not so simple anyway. Who made up all these silly etiquette rules in the first place. I have a friend that grew up extremely poor and when she got married at eighteen did not receive a lot of gifts for her wedding. She really does not have a lot and now she and her husband just bought a new home. I offered to throw her a housewarming party because she does need towels and sheets, decor items, and many other things. Now, she is not asking for them…. I am on her behalf (if anyone wants to buy a gift for them). I have asked her to make a list of gift ideas and possibly register so we all buy her what they truly need and like and not something that is totally out of place in there home. She has very graciously and hesistantly accepted and I think all of this is perfect acceptable. Etiquette shmetiquette! ;)

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Keekees May 15, 2013 at 10:41 pm

A housewarming party is thrown by the homeowners. Baby, bridal showers, etc. aren’t supposed to be thrown by the person being honored.

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Joanna May 31, 2013 at 10:04 am

I think it really depends on the person and the individual circumstances — for example, when I first became a homeowner two and a half years ago, I had a “housewarming” for my closest friends. But really, it wasn’t so much a gift grab as simply inviting my half dozen closest to officially see the new place as soon as I was ready to have them — everyone, naturally, was curious and wanted to see where I had ended up. So I hosted a small get-together for them, and because they are my close friends who know me well, I got a couple of gift cards for Walmart and Home Depot, a plant, etc. None of these items were large, none were requested by me, and really, they were just tokens of support/affection from close friends, the types of things I’ve bought for THEM on their occasions in the past, you know?

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allye February 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm

I feel that labeling things to achieve a means to an end, is getting out of hand althoghter. One can simply speak with their family/friends if they desire to have someone “gift” them things, and there is really no need to host things to make people feel like giving “charity.” One just simply speak with others who feel the same and move onward. The problem with all of this labeling is that you must invite others to make it worth registering and when you do, you are assuming others care and feel the same and putting people in your little black book that says, “I wish to gift this to this couple, do you not feel the same?” And, people to save face, follow along spending money that they made not have, and all of this came from your list of good intentions, since you thought of what you wanted to do for a couple….

I have never thrown a party to get anything from anyone, and do not need to, just invite and if someone wants to bring something, they can, and if they do not, then they do not…we would not need rules of etiquette, if we think like men…..”you want to play ball?” Simple and without fanfare…you notice men do not host anything but who is bringing the beer and chips to the next “game watching event.” Ladies, stop wasting time on such trivialities……

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Meg May 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm

I agree with allye, because what if people have allergies? Or are gluten intolerant?

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Winifred Rosenburg June 1, 2013 at 8:56 am

I have no idea what allergies or gluten intolerance have to do with this. What is your issue? Please explain.

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Meg June 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm

I mean things like with allergies, people have given me as gifts things such as beauty gift packs which I can’t use because I am allergic to that sort of stuff, sot that’s why I might suggest the things that they DON’T bring. Also, catering wise, even though I am not gluten intolerant, some of my friends are, so that’s why I would be ok for people to even bring their if they want to. I would like to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves and I don’t want to sound self-absorbed, but it also depends on culture. I grew up in the field of disability, so that taught me to be more open minded towards other people. I also understand that it’s the thought that counts.

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Meg June 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm

Also, some people might get offended if they come back to your house after the housewarming party and find that their gift has not been used and wonder why.

Emily March 1, 2013 at 5:06 am

I have a friend who sent out a housewarming invite recently with not only where they are registered, but what gift cards they would like as well. Plus, the registry was for expensive items like vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, and big screen TVS! To top it off, the party is a potluck! I was shocked and am not sure how to tell her that this is all quite rude.

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Jody March 1, 2013 at 12:03 pm

Emily, that is a bit over the top. While I understand your opinion of the situation, telling somebody what they’re doing is rude is just as bad as the actual offense. If you want to go to the party anyway, you can go and either bring an off-registry gift or no gift at all. If you don’t think you can graciously attend (keeping silent about the registry and gift cards) the best thing would be to decline saying you have other plans for that day.

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Elizabeth March 1, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I agree with Jody. The event you describe is tasteless, and your friend definitely comes across as a gimme-pig. However, there’s no good way (non-rude way) to tell her so. I would just “be busy” that day.

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Erica July 30, 2013 at 3:19 pm

OK, now THAT does sound a bit excessive! SHEESH!

I would NEVER expect ANYONE to buy me large ticket items (or be bold enough to put them on a registry!)

But (in reading OTHERS’ comments) I don’t think a housewarming is “just an excuse to get people to buy things” as people have mentioned here! I think it’s a way to get a home started; but at least in the style that the person living there might like!!

I understand that a lot of times your first place is filled with odds & ends and hand-me-downs (I LOVE all that stuff!), but EVERYONE knows moving into your first place is expensive enough; and a reflection of ME would be nice in my new apartment! (I think a lot of people might feel this way!)

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Lacie May 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Not everyone marries. In fact, in most states in this country – millions aren’t legally able to marry. If, say, you happen to be a gay man that doesn’t want to be a father (so no baby shower) AND certainly no (MULTIPLE) wedding showers…what’s the “etiquette” then? Or how about a single, childless woman with no intention of obtaining marital “bliss” & doesn’t want kids? Why are multiple parties are encouraged & accepted in marriage or for having multiple children…but not for a first time home buyer? My point is that if someone wants to host a party to celebrate a home purchase – by a house warming – where guests are treated to dinner etc, it’s backward to deem it uncouth. Try to see things outside your little boxes :)

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Jamie May 13, 2013 at 7:37 am

I couldn’t agree more. It makes me think of The Sex and the City episode where Carries realizes she has spent tons on Engagement Parties, Bridal Showers, Weddings, Baby Showers… doesn’t she deserve a little something? My husband and I eloped and then lived in Italy for 3 years. We are now returning stateside and buying a home. The water here ruined our pots and pans, we’re coming from a 1 bathroom with a shower (no tub) to a 2 1/2 bath and need all those accessories, need American appliances…. I can’t help but think of our combined 5 siblings who we have showered and gifted (about $500 each couple) and I don’t see what the harm would be with registering for a housewarming (we didn’t have an engagement, bridal, or baby shower). I guess I’m tactless according to the above comment ;) .

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Elizabeth May 13, 2013 at 9:10 am

Well, the problem is that housewarming parties are not socially or culturally determined gift-giving moments in the same way that a wedding or baby shower is. Obviously people may give gifts at housewarmings, but it’s not expected or ingrained in the same way that the showers or weddings are. Further, people don’t usually give big gifts – more like a houseplant or set of kitchen towels – certainly not an appliance. You are correct that Carrie pointed out the injustice in that particular episode of SATC, but she did so only because her clueless friend made her take off her shoes and then didn’t try to help her when they were stolen. It’s not as if she sent an ‘I’m single!’ shower invitation round to all her friends. And, keep in mind that she later did marry and was therefore ‘entitled’ to all the same parties and gift-receiving opportunities. Further, keep in mind that by eloping, you and your husband successfully avoided having to pay for a large expensive wedding. It goes both ways!

I also don’t see the harm, per se, in registering for a housewarming. Where I do see the harm is if you were to mention this registry to anyone unless explicitly asked. It should definitely not be mentioned anywhere in an invitation. It is simply not your friends’ responsibility to set you up in house and home after you made the decision to live abroad for some years. A housewarming party is a celebration of a new home, and it is the first major time that you offer hospitality to your friends and guests in that new home. It is not to be done with an expectant hand out.

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Alicia May 13, 2013 at 9:46 am

Adults are responsible for furnishing their own places. If you could not afford a 2.5 bath place then you should have rented a smaller one. Registering implies that gifts are expected and gifts are not expected at a housewarming. If say they ask and you let them know that you are thinking of decorating your bathroom in say leaf green and could use items then that is different. People probably sent you wedding gifts( I certainly do not spend any more if invited to the shower just divide into two gifts) and baby gifts and probably spent a fortune on shipping it internationally. Eloping also says that you do not value the trappings of a big marriage ceremony and are purposefully avoiding that So your choices are likely the reason why you did not have wedding showers or if a kid a baby shower. No reason to restart your relationships here by saying “we do not want to live with our choices and instead want your money”
Oh and FYI
I am not married with no kids and years ago when I hosted people for my housewarming I spent much more then I received in gifts. I still remember the two items I received. I got given a hose(quite nice and practical for a new home owner) and a candle with candle holder(not my style but sweet) I’ve hosted or cohosted 11 showers not to mention the number of weddings showers ect I have given gifts for. But life is not exactly equal. It is fair however. You made life choices that meant you got to live in italy for years that is a nice life result.

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Meghan Stewart-Snoad May 31, 2013 at 7:57 pm

The only thing I think is really rude when gift giving is when someone has given you a gift, then they ask you for something worth even more in return. Like one year, a girl gave me a just a birthday card for my birthday, then for her birthday, she asked me if I could get her a gold necklace. I didn’t get it for her, because I had already got her a present, and I thought this was rude.

When hosting a party, even though I would be happy to organize catering, I would also be happy if people brought their own plates to share because what if they can only have things that are gluten free? Or if they have food allergies?

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Becky July 17, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I didn’t get the impression that Emily was making a judgment on gifts for housewarming or that she was implying gift giving was the exclusive domain of big weddings. Gift giving is not a “i want my share” proposition. My impression was her dismay was more over the fact that the registry was included in the invite and the types of items included. I have recently received my first invitation to a commitment ceremony and I was mortified! Not that it was a gay couple or that they had registered (I was going to give them a gift regardless), but the fact that they put the registry list IN the invitation. Regardless of the occasion for an invitation, if there is a registry or other gift giving, it is always in bad taste to include gift directions in an invitation period. Heck, you could host a “single and child-free shower” and register at tiffany’s and bergdorf goodman, but never, never include that info in the invitation.

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Elizabeth July 18, 2013 at 8:48 am

For events that are structured specifically around gift-giving, such as a baby shower, I do not think it is in bad taste to include the registry information in the invitation. I agree completely that a wedding/commitment ceremony invitation with registry information is wholly improper.

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CSLS October 9, 2013 at 9:44 am

Lacie, I have been combing the internet to address the exact subject you bring up about about women, or men, who cannot marry, but you’d like to throw a “shower-like” party for them …. And what is the etiquette for that? And what would you even “call” such a party? I never did see a response to your inquiry. No surprise. Guess I will just step out of the box and throw a “Help Sisie Make Her House A Home” party!

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Elizabeth October 9, 2013 at 12:55 pm

There are only two events that etiquette sanctions a shower: a first baby and a first wedding. A single person buy their first apartment or home – that’s just called life, and it’s on that person to support themselves and pony up for their own life choices. If I were “Sisie’s” friend, perhaps someone who isn’t as fortunate as Sisie, couldn’t afford to buy a house and was still renting – I would resent the implication that I’m on the hook to help Sisie’s with her totally elective dream. Sisie needs to make her own house a home – like everybody else. The kind of party that you’re suggesting – a shower for a person for no reason – that is called begging. And the friends will not like it and resent it. Proceed at your own risk.

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jessica January 30, 2014 at 1:57 am

First and foremost, ALL showers are tacky. The only purpose of them is to “shower” the other person in gifts. I was horrified when my mother threw a suprise bridal shower for me. My husband and I truly enjoy the company of our friends and family in a relaxed environment with no obligations. Beyond that, there is nothing we cant buy for ourselves…we live a modest life anyway. If we had to have a gift, hands down we would prefer something handmade and unique.

As for the rest of your post, having children and getting married are also “just life” and a “life choice”. According to your theory, people should not have showers for those events because it means they couldnt afford them…which I got from “resent the implication that im on the hook”.

Bottom line, if you are the type of person to support showers of any type, I dont see how you can pick and choose who is worthy.

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Elizabeth January 30, 2014 at 10:43 am

I’m glad to explain the difference. Bridal and baby showers have a long history and tradition. We as a society have agreed tacitly that these are the events worthy of celebrating in this way. Further, there are rules about who can throw them. It is beyond improper to throw a baby shower or wedding shower for yourself. That appears as begging. But when your friends or family do it for you, they are the ones soliciting gifts on your behalf. So the request does not come from the one who will benefit. A housewarming party has never had the same status as a wedding or baby shower. In fact, historically, the wedding shower was the event in which a couple received home-related gifts. A housewarming “shower” would have been redundant. Plus, a housewarming shower would be in very bad taste because the people benefiting are also the people hosting. And there is indeed a history and tradition of houswarming parties as well – they are the first major opportunity that someone gets to host a party in their home. The guests ‘warm’ the house with the friendship and sometimes with a small gift, such as towels or a potted plant. The housewarming has NEVER been a major gift-giving occasion. People do not expect it, so most would be very put off if they were invited to a party thinking it was one thing only to find out that they were expected to shell out some major cash. You might argue that the shower model is based on the idea that people will marry young and settle into a home right away, and that is outdated. This is true. However, that doesn’t make it OK to throw yourself a party and demand that your friends bring you expensive gifts.

Victoria | the Maypop April 28, 2014 at 3:57 pm

CSLS – I think hosting a party for a single friend as a way to help celebrate a new home purchase is a lovely idea! I have been blessed myself by wedding and baby showers and would like to do something nice for my single friends to return the favor someday, even if they never marry or have children. Certainly, a home purchase is a life event to celebrate. I understand the points Elizabeth makes about this being against tradition and about others potentially feeling obligated to bring a gift. That said, if you’re inviting close friends (as opposed to work acquaintances and such), then I would imagine most of them share your sentiments for Sisie.

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Roderick A May 28, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Well for me I think that the purpose of a housewarming is to invite your family and friends over to show off your home. I also think it’s rude for a person not to bring a gift to a housewarming party; to me that is the same thing as being invited over for dinner or some other function and coming in empty handed…That is VERY unsouthern!! I also do not think that there is anything wrong with requesting gift cards only! This keeps me from having to throw your item in the trash, or clutter up the garage with foolishness that doesn’t even match the decor. I see absolutely nothing wrong with requesting gift cards only, because as a homeowner you are always in home depot or lowes; or any kind of home improvement store. I think the rules of etiquette have certainly changed; if people followed the etiquette rules of old then people would know that if someone says hello to you that it is rude not to acknowledge there greeting….yet so many people do it.

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Meghan Stewart-Snoad May 31, 2013 at 8:00 pm

I just think it’s rude for lets just say if someone gives you a gift and then when you give them a gift, they ask for something worth more than what they gave you.

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Elizabeth June 2, 2013 at 11:50 am

It is improper to attempt to direct your guests’ gift-giving, especially in the case of an event where gifts are not a foregone conclusion (like a shower). You may indeed have everything you need, and you may prefer giftcards. IF someone asks your preferences, you are certainly able to state them. However, there’s a lot of room between ‘decor’ type objects and giftcards, and that is usually where housewarming gift-giving falls. Houseplants, dishtowels, small kitchen gadgets or a small garden tool, a serving dish, a candle, a bottle of wine or liquor – all of these are very common housewarming gifts, and few of them could be considered visually offensive enough or redundant enough to go into the trash. (Even if they are, you say ‘thank-you’ and do not mention what becomes of it.) Few of them are expensive enough to warrant a similar amount in a giftcard. Further, you should trust that your friends know you well enough to know what you would like or what you would find useful.

Saying that you expect gifts, but actually demand giftcards is another way of saying that you expect your friends to pay you back for your hospitality -and that is the opposite of hospitality. One opens their home, especially in the case of a housewarming, to invite in the warmth of their family and friends. One does not charge admission to such an event.

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M M Thomas July 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Roderick,

I grew up on the Gulf Coast and in my and my parent’s circle, no one brought gifts to dinner parties. It was assumed that the food, wine, and decorations had been choosen by the hosts for their compatablity of taste, texture, and color. What we would do is extend a return invitation, or, if the event was a disaster of personalities, write a thankyou note and send flowers.

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Meghan Stewart-Snoad May 31, 2013 at 3:10 am

I’m moving into my new house in July and I’m thinking of having a housewarming party. In my new house, I can have pets, whereas in my currant house, I can’t. I’m not sure that I want any new gifts and I don’t want to come across as being rude, but I’m currantly saving my money for a pet cat or dog, so I was thinking, if people choose to give a gift, I would like a little bit of money, because I think that in my case, a pet would be the best housewarming gift of all to make a home, especially one that I can choose.

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Elizabeth May 31, 2013 at 8:19 am

Gifts are not something that you ‘want’ or ask for, they are something that you are delightfully surprised by. Housewarming gifts tend to be on the order of dishtowels or house plants – they do not come close to the cost of pet ownership. If you want to throw a party to celebrate your new home and as the first major opportunity to graciously host your guests, then do so. But do not ask them for a specific kind of present when most would only bring a bottle of wine or two dishtowels, if that.

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Meghan Stewart-Snoad May 31, 2013 at 8:39 am

That’s what I thought. I don’t drink any alcohol though. I’ve heard of people hiring wishing wells now for housewarming parties as well as weddings and baby showers now.

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Elizabeth May 31, 2013 at 11:13 am

You can, unfortunately, hear of all manner of tacky things nowadays. The goal to which we all aspire is to avoid doing them ourselves!

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Joanna May 31, 2013 at 9:59 am

I agree with Elizabeth – it would be unspeakably rude to ask, much less specify. Nobody owes you anything at all simply because you moved into a new home. However, the unspoken understanding is that when someone does, their friends typically want to gift them with a little something to help brighten up or decorate the new place, such as a plant. If it’s someone who’s moving into their first place, then someone might want to help with the basic necessities, as we all know just how quickly those expenses add up.

But…a pet? Sorry, but I really don’t see any way of asking anyone for help with this. It really has nothing to do with a housewarming.

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jessica January 30, 2014 at 2:07 am

My own humble opinion is that if you have to save money for a pet, you can not afford a pet. Although I admit that you may be one of yhe very few peoole who have plenty in their saving but when they want something beyond their norm, they still save for it. However, those types are very rare these days.

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Meg June 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm

I think that we all need to remind ouselves here that etiquette really depends on culture and how we all see things. I live in Australia, and here (and other part of the world), are starting to embrace diversity a lot more. For example, I used to study Japanese and both my parents used to travel overseas a lot for work, and one thing I have learnt is that in some Asian cultures is that in some Asian cultures it is actually polite to burp at the end of a meal because it shows appreciation to the chef.
I grew up in the field of disability. Where I come from, disability is starting to be embraced and accepted a lot more as a culture. My brother and I are both diagnosed as Autistic (I have Asperger’s Syndrome and he has a more severe form of Autism, with limited verbal communication skills). Both of us also have an intellectual disability. Neither of us want to be cured of our Autism, because it won’t kill us. Autism is classified as a behavioral disability, but it also affects the way we look at the world. The best description I have ever heard for curing Autism comes from the film Mary and Max goes like this; “For someone to cure me of my Autism, would be like someone trying to change the colour of my eyes.” Some of the smartest people in the world are diagnosed as Autistic.
I’m 27 years old, and I have just come from my second year of working as the Chairperson for The Having A Say Conference, which is the largest conference in Australia for people with disabilities, and is all about EMBRACING diversity. We often have people from overseas attend the conference.
My mum now works as a carer for people with disabilities and even manages a house for them. The exposure to different cultures that I have had growing up has taught me to at least try and be more open-minded to them and their needs.

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Elizabeth June 2, 2013 at 11:54 am

I agree with you. It’s important to recognize cultural differences, and to not be so rigid in our own ideas of etiquette when encountering people from other cultures. Most people are not trying to offend, so it’s better to approach any social interaction with a spirit of generosity – meaning, let’s assume the best of people and not the worst.

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Meg June 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm

I still think that it is polite to give something to those who have already given something to you and vice versa.

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Kelly July 11, 2013 at 12:16 pm

I am personally throwing my own housewarming in September to celebrate our new home. We are a lesbian couple merging our families. So this will be the first time our families actually meet each other. I don’t think its tacky or distasteful to register for some items you may need for your new home, i.e. candles, bath towels, cookie sheet or whatever (something small. ) But I definitely wouldn’t register for big items like, furniture, TV’s etc… that’s going a little too far.
What’s tacky is when you demand your guests get something from the registry. I’m only doing a registry for people who wish to purchase something to celebrate our new home. But it’s definitely not mandatory.

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Cyra July 11, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Hi Kelly,

I don’t think a registry is itself a tacky thing, but including it in an invitation definitely is. If any of your guests ask you, “Hey! Is there anything you need for you home?” that is the perfect opportunity to let them know that you have a registry at XYZ. Since it sounds like you plan on keeping your registry pretty small, though, why not just tell people what you need when they ask? “Oh, we could really use some cookie sheets or bath towels” is totally fine to say, and you’ll save yourself the time of creating a registry!

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Karen July 17, 2013 at 4:36 pm

This is a great question/issue and needs to be considered from several perspectives. More people are staying single longer, never getting married, or starting over completely. Of all the house warming parties I have gone to, people are willing to bring a “Welcome Home” gift but unsure of what to get and want advice. In reality many people don’t want a plant, that is just one more thing to take care of. If everyone brought a plant then now you have a garden! Wine is nice, but is it really helpful? What is wrong with supplying people with little items after they made a big purchase? I am not saying we need to register for couches, bedroom sets, large appliances, etc. But I don’t think it is poor etiquette to simply allow your friends/family to meet the need of supplying small things like dish towels, silver ware, lamps, spices, throw pillows, etc (things that really add up). The world is changing and we have to change with it, and that means etiquette does not stay in the 1940′s. There is nothing wrong with showing friends/family you love them through gifts….and gifts are not expected at a Housewarming but a nice gesture.

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Darlene July 26, 2013 at 7:32 pm

Sorry, I think it is rude that people only think their babies and weddings are worthy of celebration and gift-giving. I’m in full agreement with the folks who point out that society is changing and for a single, childless woman in her 30s–who has bought countless wedding and baby gifts for friends–who buys her first home, this is a big deal worthy of a registry. It is, in my mind, the equivalent of a wedding registry in the sense that wedding gifts are about helping the young couple who has nothing start their life with some new towels and a toaster and some dishes. The reality that it doesn’t work that way anymore. Sometimes the starting-a-life-in-a-house begins before the wedding. Sometimes people start their adult life without a spouse…. so, the etiquette needs to change with the context, IMO.

Now, I agree it is rude to insist on getting gifts or to expect something extravagant or to make comments about people who don’t give you something. Or to register for a housewarming at the same time you marry, expecting two gifts. Or to register if you move all the time or are just renting. But buying a house is a big deal for anyone, especially a single person without kids. It is a big “adult” milestone. And my mortgage has lasted longer than most of my friends’ marriages. :)

To the person who said that a person who buys a home should furnish it themselves…. well, okay… but until people stop expecting me to pay for their baby diapers and their fancy wedding silver that they want…. don’t begrudge me a dish registry for my new home on those grounds.

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Stephanie August 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm

y I almost completely agree with your statement; however, much like some people never plan to marry there are those who never plan on owning a home. This is especially true for those who live in big cities or who just plain don’t want the hassle of ownership or can’t afford to buy. I see nothing wrong with throwing a housewarming if you are a renter. That new living space needs to be filled with love and support whether or not you own it.

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Kelly August 26, 2013 at 2:12 pm

There seems to be quite a variety of opinions of whether or not it is “proper” to register for a housewarming party. Here is my situation: My husband has a co-worker who gave him an invitation to his and his wives housewarming celebration. My husband knows his co-worker only thru work and I have never met him nor his wife. When I opened the invitation I was excited, as I thought it may give us an opportunity for my husband to get to know his co-worker better and myself a new friend. However, when I read that they were registered for gifts, I will admit that I was immediately turned off. Apparently I am behind the times, as I had never heard of anyone registering for gifts after moving into a new home. After reading the pros and cons on this blog, I can see both sides, but my opinion is that if you don’t know the people well, or in my case not at all, I found it in poor taste. If I were to attend, I would have purchased the old stand by, either a plant, bottle of wine or food of some sort to be shared at the party. When you don’t know the people, asking for a gift is too forward for me, and made my decision not to attend easier. Any thoughts?

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Elizabeth August 26, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I agree with you completely. A housewarming is about warming the home with a celebration that you (as the new home owner) host FOR your friends. It’s about the goodwill and good wishes that the friends bring in to the home – not about any materials goods that might accompany them. Traditionally, one can see the need for wedding and baby showers, but sheesh – as an adult, it’s your responsibility to furnish your own home! To ask friends and family to give even more gifts (on top of a wedding, most likely) is beyond the pale of appropriate. I don’t understand why people think they can circumvent the time honored tradition of buying new things over time. Unless you’re wealthy enough to buy a new house or have the money to refurbish everything right away, and to buy all new furniture and housewares, you do it like everyone else: you acquire a little at a time. This housewarming registry is over the top consumer culture “I have to have everything NOW!” gone to an extreme. I, too, would have likely declined to attend, or (if my husband really wanted to go), I would have given a traditional housewarming gift as you mentioned.

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jessica January 30, 2014 at 2:17 am

I just do not understand your perspective if you rewrite your post substituting “housewarming” with “baby shower” or “wedding shower” wouldnt it still make sense?

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Just Laura August 26, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Ugh, I agree with you. I’ve always felt that inviting people one doesn’t know for the purpose of getting gifts out of them* puts others in an uncomfortable spot. And why would we ever want to do that to someone?
A person may say, “but after all the showers, I get to have gifts now!” I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to think that, but people already know to bring something to a housewarming party (plant, wine, Lowes/Home Depot gift card). Instructing them what to bring to celebrate the fact that you are financially able to buy a home is lacking in sensitivity, particularly in tough economic times. Kelly, I’d let the person know that unfortunately you won’t be able to attend the lovely party.

*If a person includes registry information with an invitation, then obviously s/he is hoping for gifts. There is no other reason to do that. If one merely wants to entertain guests, one doesn’t include registry information. For instance, if I’m throwing a Halloween party, I don’t include registry information.

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Crystal September 13, 2013 at 5:58 pm

I would have to say, that this converstaion is just way too much!!! If people want to register let them register. If they dont then they dont. You cant always please everyone. If you cant afford to get them a gift then DONT GO!!! Or go empty handed. If they are your TRUE FRIENDS, I would assume that you would want to get them something special to mark a special time in their lives. If not, then who CARES!!!

I know my friends and family would gladly buy me gifts for a housewarming from a registry if that is what I did. They care about me as I care for them and would do the same thing in return. If i didnt have the money to get them something from their registry then I would get them something else that I could afford. They are my dear friends and therefore they arent going to stop talking to me if i dont get them something from the registry.

If you think its rude then dont register, but dont judge others because you dont like it.

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Meghan December 3, 2013 at 2:53 pm

I’m actually throwing a party in March that will be a combination housewarming, anniversary, birthday party. My husband and I got married this year on Valentine’s Day, a little court ceremony as that’s all we could afford. We are buying our first house and moving in on March 1st. My birthday is March 31st. So we thought we’d throw a party to celebrate all of it. We do not require gifts, but trying to tell our friends and families not to buy us something is akin to asking them all to jump off a bridge. So we thought putting together a registry was a good idea, since there will inevitably be 100 “what can we get you” emails after I send the invitation. I was going to save time and just put the link in the invitation with a line saying that by no means are presents a requirement, it’s just there for those folks who will inevitably ask. (We’re sending out an evite.) But now I fear it will be seen as gift grubbing. So what do you recommend? Leave the link out and then just give it to those who ask?

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Elizabeth December 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Yes, leave the link off and have it ready to send in response to questions. Gifts should never be mentioned in an invitation.

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Just Laura December 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Great answer, especially since you expect a hundred emails asking what you want.

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Kristine December 7, 2013 at 1:51 am

Meghan,

My husband and I did the same thing, we had a small ceremony and then post honeymoon and between Thanksgiving and Christmas–we invited everyone over for a “Holiday Housewarming”. We never mentioned gifts or a registry, however we did tell our parents and those who asked that we did have a small registries at Crate & Barrel and Macys…and they were just that, small registries with things we wanted/needed for the new house. Many did shop off the registry and many just came over, it was wonderful! Just be certain to send Thank You’s to those who brought gifts and of course verbally thank all guests.

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Emily January 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm

My spouse and I requested people NOT give us any wedding (or shower) gifts on the grounds of “We don’t have a house to put it in yet”. With the exception of a few close family members (who insisted on monetary gifts) people respected our wish and gave only cards, usually with a note saying they wanted to know when the housewarming would be.

Therefore, I feel it is entirely appropriate to add a polite note to the end of our house warming invites saying that gifts are not required, but for those who chose we’re registered at X.

Quite frankly the whole point of this kind of gift giving is to help a young couple start out their independent life (away from parents). Since most people do that before they get married these days, I’d rather scrap the wedding registry thing and only do that kind of major gift giving for first-time house warming – be those people married or single. It seems like half the people getting married these days have already lived together for years and have everything they need.

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Michelle January 25, 2014 at 12:35 am

I got my email invitation from my friend hosting her own housewarming for her new townhome. She said that she put me down for pots & pans! I had my own gift in mind like bedding, sheets, towels or some nice things for the bathroom. Is assigning guests specific gifts to bring common? I’ve bought house warming gifts before but I always choose from a list of a few things a person has in mind .55

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Winifred Rosenburg January 25, 2014 at 11:12 am

Wow! Your friend has a lot of nerve! Gifts are not even required at housewarming parties so she should assume you were planning on giving a gift. Even if they were it would of course be your choice what to give! I would not go to the party and not give a gift as your friend is clearly just trying to grab for gifts and not thinking about the true purpose of housewarming parties: to warm your home with the presence of friends.

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Annie April 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm

I have a friend who I threw a baby shower less than 6 weeks ago and she is having a housewarming party next weekend. After the work of throwing her the shower and buying her a present for the baby shower, can I get away with not bringing anything to the housewarming? Oh, not to mention this is a honeymoon baby, so there was the bridal shower and wedding present I bought in the last year too. Just kinda feel drained of giving gifts.

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Alicia April 2, 2014 at 4:38 pm

Housewarming do not require gift giving. They only require your willingness to go on a house tour and exclaim over how wonderful it is.

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Coquina April 17, 2014 at 4:32 pm

The best one yet: just received a virtual housewarming invitation (will post pictures on Facebook on a certain date) with a registry from a friend who is moving to a new place with her new boyfriend. On it there is a set of electric toothbrushes at more than $200.00; items for her dog; dishes, etc. we never met the new boyfriend. When she moved in her own home a few years ago I gave her a housewarming gift when I visited her in the first place she owned! This virtual invitation to get them a gift on a registry tops everything I ever heard of before on the subject of registries (which keeps me luck warm to begin with).

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Alicia April 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm

I would ignore this gift grab

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David April 17, 2014 at 9:21 pm

Well, that is certainly entertaining reading! If you plan to attend, don’t feel compelled to choose a gift from the registry. If you do, certainly stay within your budget comfort zone. While in attendance, you might ask how long the new lease is and if she plans on moving when it expires (I’m just kidding, of course). Seriously though, I wouldn’t spend on, or choose, a gift beyond what you truly feel is comfortable for you.

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Elizabeth April 17, 2014 at 10:23 pm

The OP mention that this was a “virtual housewarming,” so I assumed that there wasn’t even going to be a party – did I have this right? Doubly appalling! I agree, ignore, ignore, ignore.

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Coquina April 18, 2014 at 8:22 pm

No party – it is virtual invite where pictures of the new place will be posted on Facebook at a certain date. This far it seems that only one person vaguely acknowledge the posting. I assume a lot of folks will ignore it. Thank you.

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David April 19, 2014 at 9:38 pm

What a sense of entitlement! She probably figures she has nothing to lose. I might treat it as though it’s a joke, which it certainly appears, and make jokes about it on the Facebook page. Ask if she could use mink draperies or a stuffed bear for the den. My, Coquina, she sounds like quite a unique personality. Have fun with it!

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Kim April 27, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Eh a registry on the invite may be a bit tacky, but I wouldn’t be mad if I recieved one. My boyfriend and I are moving next month, and we are going to have a housewarming party. I have parties a lot, and we want to celebrate our first home with close friends and family. We aren’t expecting any gifts, but some friends and family keep asking us what we want. We may make a wish list at one of the big stores. We won’t tell everyone, but we will at least give the people who keep asking an idea of what we could actually use. I think it would be wrong to put huge ticket items on there, but at least we can add small utensils, towels in the color we want, etc. That way the people who want to give an actual gift instead of a gift card can get us something we could actually use. If people don’t ask us, I won’t tell them about the wish list. If they come with something, that is nice. If they come with nothing, that is great too because we just want to celebrate!

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Emma May 22, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I would have to say that if you have moved multiple times, or it is not your first home purchase, or you have already been married and had a wedding shower (whereby receiving the same gifts you’d want at a house warming shower) then it would be tacky to expect gifts for a house warming.
Having said that, as other posters have also mentioned, buying your first home is a really huge deal, not to mention these days a lot of first time home buyers are single and child-free and may stay that way, thereby never having the shower of gifts that those who marry and have children receive.
Other posters have mentioned that baby & bridal showers are the only times you “should” give gifts and that when you buy a house it’s up to you to pay to furnish it – is the same not true of weddings and babies? Why should I be obliged to buy a gift because you decided to get married, or you decided to have a baby – by that same theory, you should be liable to buy your own crystal wine glasses, and cribs/strollers etc. This is especially infuriating when you spend so much money on a couple who then proceeds to get divorced! And for single, child-free adults it is tiring to continuously spend money on bridal and baby showers, engagement and bachelor(ette) parties, and because you have either made the choice or simply not been fortunate enough to find your soul mate, you never receive the same in return.
The etiquette for these showers comes from long gone days when couples did not cohabit before marriage, and did not buy homes on their own (especially true for women).
In the case of a first time, unmarried home buyer I would think it is perfectly acceptable to have a house warming shower with a gift registry so that you’re not left throwing things out that are not to your taste, or you have no use for. I am not talking about TVs, dining sets etc., but more akin to items the engaged couples register for – dishes, cookware etc.

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A. June 23, 2014 at 12:56 am

I agree it depends on circumstances and the individuals in question. I have been married for 10 years. We lived in two apartments, then rented a house, and then finally bought our own house. We never asked for or expected anything from anyone. When we bought the house though, our families were so happy and excited for us, they asked us to register somewhere so they could buy us gifts (for the housewarming + the 10th anniversary). We never threw a housewarmings as renters and given that, it wasn’t like “crying wolf” this time – and they were all eager to get us new stuff.

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Terri July 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

I am looking up the etiquettes to a registry because I am getting my first home BUT there are a hand-full of people who keeps asking me “what do you want?” and I am not sure if that would be the best idea. I agree with the fact that I don’t want there to be any obligation to gift

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Elizabeth July 9, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Why don’t you just verbally give them a general suggestion, or simply say “just your presence at the party is enough!”? A handful of people does not seem to necessitate a registry.

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Elisa August 4, 2014 at 11:01 pm

I personally think in the new and modern age we live in, what’s considered “tacky” needs to be re-evaluated. We don’t consider it uncouth that young brides send out invitations to both bridal showers AND weddings with registry information. Everyone is expected to shower the new couple with the desires of their hearts. At the age of 30, I have attended multiple weddings and showers, and bought gifts I could have used for my own kitchen, for girls who are often younger than myself. Why do we consider a marriage proposal an achievement that demands the attention of everyone else’s pocketbooks? Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. Up until this point, I’ve spared my friends and family the obligation of outfitting my house for me by ending relationships I didn’t think would work. My reward? I’ve scrimped and scraped to buy myself a food processor and a Kitchen Aid mixer. Now, I’m buying a house on my own–a very terrifying but exciting commitment in its own right. I don’t know if marriage is in the cards for me, but I can tell you, after finishing multiple degrees, working hard, landing my dream job, and now buying a house–I do feel I’ve personally accomplished enough to register for a house warming party. If the 23-year bride gets to demand that of me and everyone else just because a man proposed to her, I don’t think it’s tacky for me celebrate my accomplishments and ask for a little help myself.

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Winifred Rosenburg August 5, 2014 at 9:00 am

Actually it is extremely uncouth to include registry information on a wedding or shower invitation. Maybe you need to re-evaluate what you consider tacky in the other direction.

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Elizabeth August 5, 2014 at 9:19 am

I agree with Winifred. It is improper to include registry information in an invitation because it sends the message that the couple is overly concerned with the gifts they will receive rather than simply their happiness at sharing the event with their loved ones. (this is not the case for showers, since the express purpose of these events is giving gifts)

I would also add that you should never give so much that you will resent it later. That’s not fair to yourself or the recipients. Give what you can comfortably afford to give, or politely decline the invitation. An invitation is not a summons, and a registry is not a demand, and you need not treat them as such.

Finally, Elisa it sounds like you have accomplished a great deal, and for that you should be tremendously proud. However, no amount of achievement legitimizes a gift-grabby house warming party. A typical house-warming gift is: a houseplant, a bottle of wine, a set of kitchen towels. Some people will generously give more, remembering all the times that you gave gifts to them. However, unfortunately in our culture a wedding is a culturally accepted, even mandated, gift giving moment and buying a new house simply isn’t one, not in the same way. I agree that it is not “fair” – there was a great episode of Sex and the City that dealt with this very issue. But — who said life was fair?? You’ve accomplished so much on your own, why do you feel the need to demand “help” now? Some of your guests won’t mind it, some will humor you and bring something off your registry, some will even bring you nice gifts because of their genuine happiness for you, but I fear many will silently feel you are uncouth, immature, gift-grabby, or any number of unpleasant thoughts – and these will likely never be communicated to you, because people are generally polite even in their disapproval. The risk is yours to take.

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