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Forget the dust collectors and bottles of wine - these housewarming gifts are the real MVPs. IMAGE: 123RF

Practical Presents That Will Actually Wow At Housewarmings

So you’ve been invited to a housewarming. As someone who’s moving for the second time in two years, I’ve received my fair share of gifts, some of which were - to put it nicely - more useful than others. 

But I get it - before becoming a homeowner, I’d always give my friends aesthetically-pleasing homeware. Think customised charcuterie boards, English tea sets, or scented candles from luxury brands. 

Little did I know the joy that boring-but-useful gifts could evoke. In between doing house renovations and buying furniture, I barely had time to research day-to-day necessities like chopping boards and laundry detergent, so I was thrilled to receive them from visitors. 

Before I get into the specifics, some principles to abide by when choosing a gift: 

If you’re splurging for a big item, check with the homeowner first to make sure they don’t already own something similar 

I say this after receiving a multicooker just a month after buying one. Likewise, you can also coordinate with other friends to ensure that the homeowner doesn’t receive multiples of the same item. You should also consider how particular the owner is about brands - even seemingly beloved brands like Dyson and Le Creuset aren’t everyone’s first choice.

Search for premiums version of utilitarian items

You know you’ve become an adult when you spend hours on Shopee/Lazada browsing through “atas” kitchen sponges. Go ahead and treat that homeowner to a multipack of $5 dish sponges; as aunty as it sounds, she’ll think of you whenever she’s scrubbing her cookware. 

Keep the homeowner’s lifestyle in mind 

Consider whether the homeowner has pets or children; chances are, someone with four cats or two toddlers would find no use for artisanal candlesticks. Nor would the friend who detests kitchen work appreciate a set of baking trays. As people who hardly drink alcohol, my husband I were tickled upon receiving a few bottles of non-alcoholic wine from two different groups of guests (I can confidently say that our friends know us well). 

Need ideas? Keep reading: 


High-quality tissue paper and toilet rolls

If you’re going to give someone a useful gift, why not go all-out by giving them a carton of something that they’ll use multiple times a day? Two of my ex-colleagues lugged over three months’ worth of 4-ply toilet paper and aloe vera-infused Kleenex to my flat, and yeah, while it seemed like kind of a joke at the time, this gift went a long way in making my home life a little more comfortable. The key is to not cheap out on the quality of the toilet paper - don’t buy something that will shred upon contact, if you know what I mean. 


A gift basket full of small household items that they probably haven’t had time to buy

Put together a hamper full of sponges, cleaning wipes, rags, cable ties, batteries, trash bags, and other small items that homeowners tend to run out of during the most inopportune times. Bonus points if the hamper itself is something useful, like a foldable laundry basket. 


Fancy hand wash

Speaking of things that homeowners actually use, hand wash makes a great gift, as long as it’s something more atas than they would use on an everyday basis. My husband and I would never use Aesop or Jo Malone hand wash after doing our usual business, but since they make an impressive addition to our guest bathroom, we always appreciate receiving them as gifts. 


Hotel-grade or spa-grade bath towels 

After hemorrhaging our savings on home reno, my husband and I spent the next year patting ourselves dry with some “basic” towels that felt more like brillo pads than anything else. So the next time I get invited to a housewarming, I’ll be gifting the new homeowners a set of plush, absorbent, hotel-grade towels. 

Alternatively, you could gift them with a set of pretty hand towels - either something they can use in their guest bathroom or something that will brighten up their kitchen. 


Nice bed sheets

Some new homeowners might be more kiam siap than others, but everyone appreciates a comfortable bed. Which is why a set of sheets made out of nice material - such as bamboo, Tencel, or 100% organic cotton - makes for a sumptuous housewarming gift. (Just make sure you find out the size of their mattress beforehand.) 


A really nice chef’s knife

I hate cooking, but a fellow homeowner once told me that the best gift they ever received was a fancy chef’s knife from Japan - apparently, no matter how many knives they own, they always welcome more. Alternatively, you can spring for a knife set, a knife sharpener, or a carving knife and fork. 


A fire extinguisher

Given all the news stories about fires breaking out due to unattended candles and modified PMD batteries, every household should have a fire extinguisher on hand. And yet, people don’t often think to buy them until it’s too late. It’s not a glamorous or pretty gift, but it’s necessary insurance, and no friend would refuse one. 



When all else fails, an IKEA gift card, a mall voucher, or even a gift card for a fancy homeware store will give your friend the option to splurge on an item of their choice (if you’re feeling especially generous, Gain City has gift cards that go for up to $1000). This is an especially suitable gift for someone who prefers to choose their own items, especially when it comes to “permanent” home appliances like vacuum cleaners, coffee machines, or microwaves.

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