Housewarming Etiquette Question

My wife and I recently bought a condo and the flurry of moving, unpacking, and finding room for everything has finally ended. We don’t have any furniture yet (just one chair and our mattress), but the rest of our settling in is done, and we want to hold a “housewarming” party to show off the place to our friends and reconnect with them since what with work and the move, we haven’t seen many for a while. Like everything we do, it’ll be an informal drop-in thing that’ll stretch out over the course of a day. Nothing fancy.

Now, the problem is we absolutely, positively don’t want any housewarming gifts. We’ve found in the past that people often feel compelled to bring gifts to a housewarming event, and that most of these gifts consist of decorative knick-knacks or random accessories, none of which we really want or have the space for (regardless of the good intentions). We’d rather our friends save their money or donate it.

What I’m wondering is how would you word this in the invitation so (1) we don’t get these kinds of gifts, and (2) we don’t look too presumptuous in looking like we expected those kinds of gifts?

I had something like this in mind:

<<Refreshments will be provided>>
<<or feel free to bring your own>>

<<Please NO GIFTS>>
<<(though canned food is welcome)>>

This way, if they want to bring something, they can bring food that we can all enjoy together, or food that we can donate to the food bank.

Any ideas, suggestions, or feedback?

If you don’t want gifts, you shouldn’t call it a “housewarming” party. It’s been my experience that at housewarmings, people always bring gifts, no matter how many times you tell them not to. Your wording sounds fine, but if you’re concerned about looking like you expected gifts, don’t call it a housewarming party.

“Refreshments would be provided?” Doesn’t that go without saying? “Feel free to bring your own” is also a bit odd. I could just imagine someone unwrapping a big hoagie in the middle of the party! I’m sorry to keep on with this, but the idea of “canned food we can all enjoy together” is just funny. Can you imagine putting out a bowl of Spaghetti-O’s??

Anyway, I would say just invite them to a party. Don’t mention the word “housewarming.” Don’t mention gifts.

I have to agree with LindyHopper, why not just have a plain old party. That way instead of knickknacks or houseplants, people will be more likely to bring food or booze.

Have to second what everyone else has said. You could make it a potluck. If people are bringing food, they probably wouldn’t feel so compelled to bring gifts. And if they do bring gifts, well, a surreptitious trip to the Salvation Army box always works for me.

By the way, what archives do you work with?

Thanks for the responses. Unfortunately, the word “housewarming” has already been thrown about a couple of times (both by us and by others), but I do like the idea of not referring to it in the invitation. I don’t want people to think they have to bring something to eat (re: the potluck), and obviously, the canned food was a reference to donations (“Hey everybody–here’s some Chef Boy-ardee to share!”). Hopefully, it’ll come across as a get-together and we’ll downplay the New Home angle until they arrive. And yes, I suspect Goodwill will still be getting a visit shortly afterwards anyway.


And burundi, I’ve done work for several different film archives nearby over the past several years (most notably the Pacific Film Archive) and am currently organizing the collection of an independent company in the area.

Make it an “Open House” instead of a housewarming. That conveys both the idea of folks being welcome at any time during the day, and that the point behind the party is to allow friends and relatives to check out your new digs.


P.S. This might be a double post…got a page not found after hitting submit.

You could say “In lieu of gifts, please make a donation to the charity of your choice.” Or you choose a charity where you’d specificly like them to donate. I believe this is often done by people who get married or buy a home later in life and already have everything they need.

Maybe its a cultural difference between Australia and the States, but I’ve been to numerous parties where “No gifts” has been specified.

It may SEEM presumptuous, but it saves embarrassment later.

Then if friends really DO want to get you something, they will be more likely to discuss it with you (“What do you REALLY want or need?”).

You are invited to a housewarming potluck!

Join us in our celebration by contributing to a potluck dinner for all to enjoy. Person with the tastiest yet thriftiest dish will receive the grand prize of one (1) rubber chicken complete with a strand of Mardis Gras beads. (No exchanges or refunds).

No gifts allowed. Anyone found attempting to infiltrate our home with a gift of any form will be forced to act as the nude donkey for a game of “pin the tail on the ass” and be asked to leave immediately after being force fed the entire amount of the Most Creative Jello Mold.

Really, no gifts please. Just come enjoy the day with us!
As with any party, it is good form to bring a gift unless otherwise notified. If it is made clear that no gifts are desired, it is generally considered poor form to bring one, outside of a card or perhaps a bottle of wine as gratitude for an invitation. Few people will be offended if you invite them to a party and ask them not to bring a gift. There are always those who feel compelled though, and if there are doubts, it never hurts to do a follow up phone call after they RSVP just to make sure they realize that you really don’t want any gifts.

Congratulations, btw!

I agree with not calling it a “Housewarming”. Maybe just invite them over for a BBQ. I’ve never been compelled to take gifts to a BBQ.

Part of an email I received as invitation to a party

Simple and to the point, though Turbo Dog’s idea is pretty good too.