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The Best Housewarming Gifts for a Friend Who Just Got Their Own Place

Here are 27 non-boring gift ideas to brighten up your friend's first roommate-free living space.
December 7, 2020, 10:00pm

A lot changed this year: our social calendars, our notion of sanity, our president-elect, and, for many of us, our places of residence. We all have friends who took this opportunity to relocate, peaced out from city life altogether, or, in many cases, decided that they could no longer deal with having three roommates who were all still going on Tinder dates and touching everything in the kitchen with their potentially germ-ridden hands. Those friends took the plunge and got their own places, and depending on our own living situations, we are either wonderfully happy for them or crushingly jealous. In any case, if these friends are close enough to warrant holiday gifts these year, we know exactly what to get them, whether they’re a plant-obsessed nut, a wannabe sommelier, or just someone who deserves some nice hand soap. Read on for 27 gifts to congratulate a friend for spreading their wings and going solo.

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A MATCH CLOCHE

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You may be asking, what in god’s name is a match cloche? The simplest answer is that it’s an attractive glass vessel filled with matches that you can put on the back of your toilet, for reasons that we hope we don’t need to explain. It makes a great gift because it’s the kind of thing you might feel kind of dumb spending $30 on for yourself, but will deeply appreciate in times of need.

Skeem Design Match Cloche, $30 at The Sleep Code.

A STATEMENT BATH MAT

Finally, a bathroom that's only covered in YOUR hair, toothpaste, and soap scum, and no one else's! There is a true sense of pride that comes along with having your own bathroom for the first time. Bath mats can really jazz up a powder room, but many first-time solo apartment dwellers are so overwhelmed with getting settled that they don't have the time or money to hunt down a good one. We've got a few ideas...

Quiet Town Arco Desert bath rug

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For fans of the desert, soothing neutrals, and modernism.

$124, at Design Milk.

UO Papaya bath mat

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An underrated fruit, preserved in terry cloth.

$39, at Urban Outfitters.

Mackenzie-Childs Courtly Check bath rug

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Is the vibe Italian piazza, or is it ska? Depends on the friend who receives it.

$80, at Mackenzie-Childs.

WINE GLASSES

But not just any wine glasses. If you drink at home, you probably recognize by now that frequently breaking fragile wine glasses is just a reality of existence, whether they get knocked off the coffee table or snap in half mid-wash in the sink. We’re over the whole skinny-stem thing; it’s fine in restaurants, but at home, it’s nice to mix things up a bit.

Terrain recycled glass wine glasses

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Sadly, this was the year we found out that recycling plastic is not actually a thing, but you know what is? Recycled glass! (At least we’re doing something right.) We like that these glasses are thicker than traditional wine glasses, and have a rustic touch, like you picked them up while on vacation in Greece.

$72 for a set of 4, at Terrain.

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Our Green House recycled glass stemless wine glasses

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Also made with recycled glass, but stemless for the extra-clumsy among us (and a little more affordable, too).

$12 each, at Our Green House.

Moroccan Spanish-style wine glasses

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When we first sipped out of these stubby, tuna-can-shaped wine glasses at Brooklyn restaurants, we thought they were pretty weird. But like many initially off-putting things—kombucha, Joanna Newsom—they eventually grew on us, and now we’re kind of obsessed with them. They can also be used for serving condiments, holding soy sauce for you to dip your takeout sushi in while you watch TV, or showing off some big fancy salt flakes.

$84 for a set of 6, at Food52.

NICE BIG SCISSORS

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Scissors are the kind of household thing that you use all the time but never think about. It’s smart to keep a few pairs around, for various purposes: opening boxes, snipping tags, cutting the sleeves off of your old shirts, creating deranged mood boards while you slowly lose your mind during quarantine. These Garrett Wade scissors are big, gold, and sharp as hell, making them very gift-worthy.

$49.95, at Garrett Wade.

A COCKTAIL MIXING GLASS

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It’s pretty likely that your friend is already longing for a bar cart; maybe they already have one. What they probably don’t have is a Japanese-style cocktail mixing glass, which is perfect for anything stirred (ahh… negronis) and won’t take up too much precious cabinet or shelf space. We like this simple one from Kotai.

$34.99, at Amazon.

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A CORKSCREW WITHOUT SOME STUPID COMPANY’S NAME ON THE SIDE

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Also needed for that hypothetical bar cart (or at least drawer of drink-adjacent supplies): a nice corkscrew that isn’t some hideous primary color and doesn’t say “Burgess Gym Fun Run” or whatever on the side of it. If your friend is lucky enough to have a fireplace, and on that fireplace, a stocking, this is what you should put in that stocking.

$19.99, at Wine.com.

FANCY SOAP

We’re all washing our hands a lot these days. Your friend has had to buy like 8,000 new things for their apartment, and is going to skimp on soap and get Dial or some other caustic stuff and their hands are going to get all dried out and so are yours if you ever go over there and use their bathroom! But that doesn’t have to be the case. The best way to build self-esteem is to display soap in your bathroom that comes in a nice bottle and smells really good, too.

Resurrection Aromatique Hand Wash

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Aesop makes the king of hand soaps, so refined that they must call it “hand wash.” This stuff is practically a cult; it smells amazing, leaves your hands soft, and comes in that iconic amber bottle. Giving it as a gift makes you an angel.

$39, at Nordstrom.

Underhill natural soap

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We’re so ready for some soap that doesn’t make our hands smell like dishwashing detergent. This Underhill soap is made in the U.S., has packaging that looks expensive, and smells like the armpit of a lumbersexual, with “aromas of wild herbs, leather, pipe tobacco, wood, and freshly poured ale.”

$9.50, at Huckberry.

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Bauhaus-inspired soap

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Your friend is never going to want to use these soaps because they look so cool, but that’s fine. These can be “display soaps.”

$15 for a set of 3, at Show and Tell.

A JAR OPENER

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LAUGH ALL YOU WANT! If your friend has poor upper body strength, like the person writing this description, they will use this thing every single time they bring home a jar of pickles or a little vat of Talenti. It is a lifesaver, and we don’t care how stupid it looks—it’s the most genuinely practical gift on this entire list besides the fancy scissors.

$12, at Wish.

A FRUIT BOWL

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This is another one of those things that you don’t think you need until you buy a sack of clementines and you’re like, uhh I guess I’ll just put these in a regular IKEA bowl until I figure out a better way. Mercer41’s Margret fruit bowl has everything we want in such a receptacle: great aesthetics, a size that’s counter-friendly but accommodating, and some visibility to make sure nothing’s rotting at the bottom.

$49.99, at Wayfair.

A SPICY THROW PILLOW

If your friend has the dough to buy a really nice couch while moving into their new spot, well, we’re happy for them. But for a lot of us, we have to budget on the ol’ sofa and end up with some kinda boring beige or grey thing from IKEA instead of the beautiful red velvet chaise we had dreamed of. But here’s the secret to looking richer than you are: Just get a grip of nice throw pillows, and no one even pays attention to what the couch underneath them looks like. Weirdly, the more mismatched they are, the better.

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Oh Joy geometric throw pillow

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Needlepoint, but way more modern than the kind your grandma loves.

$52.99 (on sale) at Wayfair.

Society6 Vintage Japanese Tiger pillow

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Kinda sexy, kinda scary, decidedly spicy.

$17.99 (on sale) at Society6.

Jonathan Adler Lips Smolder pillow

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Pretty sure we’re all on the same page at this point that smoking in your house is gross, but très chic designer Jonathan Adler still makes it look cool on a pillow.

$124, on sale at Jonathan Adler.

VISO Tapestry Pillow V51

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Artist Marleigh Culver designed this accent piece that is as sustainable as it is mesmerizing.

$120, at Goodee.

DECENT COASTERS

Coasters seem like such a weird, boring thing to care about owning until you finally escape the world of roommates and have to pay for all your own furniture. Then, suddenly, you find your brow beading with sweat at the sight of a friend leaving their condensation-covered can of seltzer on your coffee table. And just like that, you respect the need for coasters.

Mitchell geometric coasters

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Mad Men may have ended, but we’re not sick of the mid-century look yet.

$35 for a set of 4, at One King’s Lane.

Kim Seybert beaded cocktail coasters

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You can enjoy these right now for the John-Waters-level kitsch factor, and if you keep them for a few decades, you can just lean into the whole “fun aunt who drinks before noon” persona.

$95 for a set of 4, at Gracious Style.

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A La shell coasters

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These elegant, affordable beaded shell coasters feel very Old Hollywood, and double as pasties if your friend ever decides to dress up as a mermaid.

$21 for a set of 2, at Amara.

A WOODEN SALAD BOWL

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This bowl instantly turns any salad into the opposite of a sad desk salad and fits into any manner of home decor, from “quirky lone wolf artist” to “seasoned entertainer throwing together a Niçoise in my bachelor pad.”

$38.99 (on sale) at Wayfair.

FUZZY SLIPPERS

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Next to a silk smoking jacket, fuzzy slippers are the best way to establish a sense of personal freedom and luxury in your home, no matter its size or location. These sexy Sorel ones are for the ladies, but they’ve got a suede-and-shearling line for guys, too.

$74.95 for Sorel women’s fuzzy slippers, $69.95 for men’s suede and shearling slippers, both at Zappos.

IF ALL ELSE FAILS, A SNAKE PLANT

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Let’s say you don’t know your friend’s drinking habits, or shoe size, or how they’re decorating their apartment, or anything, really, because it’s been a long year and your brain permanently feels like the spinning beach ball graphic that appears on your laptop screen when something is going terribly wrong. Just get them a snake plant. They’re impossible to kill, and Sill will ship one directly to your buddy so you don’t have to deal with staring at a dozen of these things in a nursery trying to decide which one is the least wilty-looking. Plus, you can choose the color of the pot. There—you tried!

$63, at Sill.


Click here to our 2020 MUNCHIES gift guides!

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