10 housewarming gifts that will actually improve a home

19th Feb 19 | Lifestyle

The best housewarming pressies blend fashion and function, and these offerings toe that line with aplomb. By Luke Rix-Standing.

Charming young girls celebrating moving into new flat

Selecting the perfect housewarming gift can be a challenge of algebraic complexity. First, you must negotiate cost – and this goes beyond the size of your budget. Plastic cups may seem a practical choice but are not good for the gift-giver’s image, while a full Le Creuset kitchen set looks generous to the point of creepy.

Second, it has to fit with the domestic tastes of the new householders. That risqué wall-hanging could lose some of its hilarity when the in-laws come calling, and the Picasso-inspired tablecloth almost certainly won’t match the curtains. Misfiring here can be particularly awkward, as it comes with unspoken peer pressure for them to actually use your dreadfully mismatched gift, or risk causing offence. Finally, it helps if your present bears some relation to the new house, if just to allow the occasion to retain some identity.

So, before you lose your nerve and cop out with a Homebase gift card, here’s a few domestic doozies to help give a new dwelling its due…

1. Postcode coasters

Postcode coasters
Finally, GCSE geography comes in handy (Pushka Home/PA)

Exactly the kind of important-but-not-essential item that might pass new householders by, these Personalised Location UK Postcode Map Drinks Coasters by Pushka Home (£14, notonthehighstreet.com) come printed with a map of an area of your choosing. Fun, practical and perfectly themed for the occasion, you can save the recipients from the horrors of coffee rings while introducing them to their new area’s geography.

2. Tile Mate

Tile Mate
Sometimes small can be convenient (Tile/PA)

This miniature plastic square won’t revolutionise the living room, but it’s a godsend for that vast proportion of people prone to losing their keys. Fasten the Tile Mate (£20, thetileapp.com) to your key ring, sync it up with an app on your smartphone, and it’ll ‘ping’ loudly every time you ring it.

By helping you navigate your own front door, the Tile Mate is as intrinsically linked to home-owning as any gift you’ll find – except perhaps paying off the mortgage…

3. Designer fire extinguishers

Designer fire extinguishers
An extinguisher for every occasion (Safe-T/PA)

If you ever needed proof that nothing is safe from the designer makeover, these boutique, artisan fire extinguishers are it. That said, fire safety is non-optional, and these vibrant units will leave no one in any doubt about where to turn in an emergency.

Extinguisher specialists Safe-T stock a wide selection of designs, from ocean seascapes and LGBT rainbows, to snazzy animal print designs (from £69, safe-t.eu).

4. Personalised booze

A wine bottle as a gift
Bow and basket optional (Thinkstock/PA)

A classic method for overcoming the ‘peer pressure problem’ – leaving a loved one saddled with a thoughtful but misjudged gift – is to purchase perishables. Chocolates and wine are understandable go-tos, but lack the personal touch to mark you out from the crowd.

Fortunately, you can quite easily personalise your booze for recipient and occasion – sites like FunkyPigeon.com offer beers, ciders, wine, champagne and gin, labelled with whatever pictures and names you choose (starting from £14.99 for a personalised bottle of wine). What better way to baptise a new dwelling than with bottles bearing the householders themselves?

5. Toolkit

Toolbox With Various Worktools On Wooden Surface
All the kids want one, we promise (Thinkstock/PA)

We know – it’s hardly the latest ergonomically-designed, voice-activated piece of domestic tech – and on first unwrapping, a toolkit might not earn the gratitude you’re due.

But this one’s about the slow burn. Don’t look for immediate thanks – wait for the pathetically grateful phone call a fortnight down the line, when your friends need to fix a blown fuse, and can only do so because you bought them a multi-bit screwdriver.

6. Shower speaker

TaoTronics shower speaker
We recommend Beach Boys, Aqua, and Wet Wet Wet (TaoTronics/PA)

No longer must your friends sing obnoxiously in the shower – with a TaoTronics Bluetooth Shower Speaker (£15.99, Amazon), someone else can do it for them. This waterproof gadget syncs up to your phone and queues songs of your choosing, perfect for music-lovers and long-showerers alike.

There is also no chance they’ll feel pressured into using it if they don’t want to. Unless you conduct an unusually communal showering routine, there’s no way you could ever know.

7. A QR code for the Wi-Fi

Phone scanning a QR code
Like Starbucks without the coffee (Thinkstock/PA)

Imagine you’re having 10 friends round to stay for the weekend. As they file in one by one, smartphones in hand, what’s the one question that they’re each guaranteed to ask?

Rather than running to the kitchen in search of the post-it that should be, but probably isn’t, stuck on the fridge, a QR code for your Wi-Fi can get any device with a scanner online within seconds. All you need do is enter their network details into an online generator, print out the resulting code, and slap it on their modem.

8. An extremely furry blanket

A furry blanket
Snug as a bug in a volcano wearing a really woolly hat (Thinkstock/PA)

If your friends have just bought a house, they’ve probably spent rather a lot of money doing it. And if they’ve just spent rather a lot of money, they probably don’t want to spend any more on their heating bills.

A proper, high-quality blanket is an investment for life, a must for those long winter evenings, and potentially a major money-saver.

9. A rice cooker

A rice cooker and some rice
We know, we think carrot is an odd choice too (Thinkstock/PA)

For its ability to destroy marriages, rice cooking is rivalled only by flirtatious Spanish waiters and particularly fractious rounds of bridge. No one seems able to agree on the right technique, and for such a staple food, it’s weirdly complicated.

Step forward the rice cooker: A slam dunk time-saving device that even the most food-illiterate can master with ease. Give your friends the greatest gift of all – the ability to enjoy a chicken and rice casserole argument-free.

10. Some lovely incense or a diffuser

The one sense that most of us agree on (Thinkstock/PA)

It’s a rare commodity in the gift-giving world – a present with universal appeal.

Visual tastes differ wildly, and just turning on the radio shows not everyone shares you taste in sound. But you’d be hard pressed to find a single individual that would turn their nose up at the soothing scents of a diffuser.

© Press Association 2019