If you’ve bought a home recently, odds are you’re eager to celebrate. It’s time to throw a housewarming party! Yet beware of hopping on a tacky new trend that goes hand in hand with these events: setting up a housewarming registry.
You’re probably familiar with registries for weddings and baby showers, where etiquette deems you come bearing gifts—ideally something listed on the recipients’ registry so you know they need it. Easy peasy, no mind reading required! Well, why not housewarming registries?
The thinking: Why open the door to an endless procession of guests bearing potted plants as housewarming gifts, when you can sign up for an online registry that says loud and clear, “Look, what I’d really love is a French press and some throw pillows for my new couch! Wanna buy ’em for me?”
The whole idea recently hit our radar when Ikea at long last launched a registry—for weddings, baby showers, and housewarmings—so people could finally get their fill of Lack tables and Billy bookcases while letting pals foot the bill. We’re down with the baby and wedding gift part, but is it good taste to have a housewarming registry? Or is it kind of like asking your Thanksgiving guests to pony up $40 for dinner?
Ikea is hardly the only store offering a housewarming registry. It’s actually late to the game, beat by stores like Target, Wayfair, and Crate & Barrel, which have long urged new homeowners to pressure hapless friends to fund their furnishing spree.
Nonetheless, the grandmother of etiquette, Miss Manners, does not approve of housewarming registries.
“Hoping to furnish one’s quarters on other people’s budgets is not a proper reason for giving a party,” she quipped in her column. It may have passed muster back in the day when people made one Big Move before settling down. But today, she adds, “housewarming parties are being given for every move, and not just temporarily rented quarters, but dormitory rooms and vacation sublets.”
And Miss Manners is hardly the only etiquette expert wagging a finger.
“If someone wants to bring you a gift, they don’t need to be coaxed,” says Diane Gottsman, founder of the Protocol School of Texas and author of “Modern Etiquette for a Better Life.” She adds that housewarming registries have taken off “because we are more and more comfortable with crowdfunding for everything imaginable. People are less hesitant to ask, especially when it’s not face-to-face and modern technology makes it so easy.”
Still, though, some experts argue that housewarming registries make a whole lot of sense.
“Housewarming registries are not tacky if someone just purchased their first house and is throwing a housewarming party,” says Courtney Lutkus at Simply Radiant Events. “Where the idea of a housewarming registry starts to get tacky is if someone moves often, is moving into a rental, or is moving and purchasing a house to upgrade from their last house. This trend is likely to be on the rise because less and less people are getting help for down payments plus home prices have skyrocketed.”
Jaya Saxena made another interesting point at Uncommoncourtesy.com: “There’s been a lot of talk recently about how weddings are the only instance in most people’s lives where it’s okay to have a registry, but the fact is that a lot of people aren’t going to get married. What if you’re single and you buy yourself a house? Is that any less of a thing to celebrate than two people getting married?”
It’s true—buying a house is a big deal. Some might even argue it’s far more challenging than traipsing to the altar. So if you want to celebrate this milestone, go right ahead. But if you’re worried about offending your guests, skip the housewarming registry, tempting though it may be.
“Take your bottle of wine, novelty potholders, Jonathan Adler picture frame, or hydrangeas with a smile,” says real estate expert Emile L’Eplattenier. “Be happy your friends care enough about you to buy you a gift at all.”
But if you really want to let them off the hook, go ahead and indicate on your invite: no gifts.