Nov 20, 2007

Top Ten Holiday Gifts for New Homeowners

Shopping for friends or family who just bought their first home? Here are some holiday gift ideas that are sure to be appreciated.

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  1. Gift certificate for Target, Home Depot, or a favorite hardware or home improvement store. First-timers love to buy things for their new house or condo, but are often strapped for cash. Your gift certificate can help finance that weed whacker or new drill they've been lusting after -- or even be used to sign up for a home improvement class.

  2. New plants, pots, or tools for the garden. For many people, one of the best things about buying a home is the space to start a garden (even if it's just a deck or patio for container gardening). Check out a local nursery, Smith and Hawken or The Gardener's Supply Company, for lots of gift ideas. If you're buying plants, be sure to read the plant labels carefully - you don't want to give someone a shrub that will take over their entire yard, or a flower that needs constant watering and attention.

  3. A local guidebook. Even if someone is not new to the area, it's always nice to have an up-to-date guide to local hiking trails, restaurants, or bargain shopping.

  4. Home-related books and magazine subscriptions--whether decorating, cooking, entertaining, or home repairs--are sure to be a big hit. There are hundreds of options (depending on the particular homeowner's tastes), including books and magazines by Martha Stewart such as Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home; Real Simple magazine (especially good for people who love to organize); Sunset Magazine and Sunset Books ; ReadyMade Magazine for creative do-it-yourselfers; Food & Wine magazine, cookbook or club; or Elle Décor or Architectural Digest (for more sophisticated tastes). If in doubt, buy a gift certificate from your local bookstore, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders.

  5. Functional, but beautiful items, such as a decorative nightlight, candles, soap, or a throw for the living room are great gifts (just make sure they match the décor and color scheme). Forget anything for the kitchen, such as new wine glasses, unless you know for sure they are on the holiday gift wish list. If in doubt, go the gift certificate route again--whether it's a local store or a big chain like Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel, or Sur La Table.

  6. A framed photo or drawing of the house (if you're artistic) is a wonderful gift (assuming the real estate agent hasn't already thought of the idea).

  7. Entertaining items for nesting (new home buyers will probably be doing a lot more cocooning than pricy nights out). A subscription to Netflix or a board game (there are dozens of versions of Monopoly available, from the classic to a Boston Red Sox special edition) are just a few ideas for at-home entertainment.

  8. Food basket. Anyone on a tight budget will appreciate getting luxury edibles that they won't be buying on their own for a while (whether special vinegars, chocolates, chutneys, or pastas). Trader Joe's and Whole Foods both carry lots of good items for a tasty food basket.

  9. A house-related Christmas tree ornament (for those who celebrate Christmas), with the date and street address of the new home. Sounds schmaltzy but is bound to please.

  10. The gift of time. This is the best gift yet for new homebuyers. Make up your own coupon or gift certificate offering a set number of hours of your time helping with a home project (painting, weeding the garden, grouting, or pulling up old carpet). Or offer to bring dinner over one night, babysit the kids, or walk the dog.


If none of these ideas strike your fancy, get online and start looking. Gifts.com has lots of great ideas. Check their recommendations for housewarming gifts -- such as household key racks, family fridge magnets, personalized garden stakes or doormats, whimsical bird feeders, unique bookends, or a feng shui kit.

And if you're looking for a gift for friends who are looking for their first home, don't forget our book, Nolo's Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home, by Ilona Bray, Alayna Schroeder, and Marcia Stewart.

Marcia Stewart