The History of the Giving of House Warming Gifts

Real Estate Agent with Retired CA BRE# 01048160

The History of the Giving of House Warming Gifts


The tradition of the house warming gifts was believed  to have been started in Russia but others claim that it actually started in medieval times. In early France, when a new house was raised in the community, the builders of the home would to gather for a celebration meal. Just prior to that meal, there would be the "hanging of the fireplace hook", the last item in completing the house. It was used to adjust the height of the pot higher or lower over the fire where the meal was prepared in the fireplace. 


It was also polite for the townspeople to bring gifts to the " Open House" such as wood for the fireplace ( actually used for warming the house ), apple pies, sacks of flour or a side of bacon to ensure that everyone in the home had enough to eat and enough wood for cooking and heat. As time would pass, other gifts that were thoughtful came to have significant wishes attached for the well being of the home and the occupants.


Here are some of the traditional gifts and the good wishes that they represented. 

Bluebirds: a wish for Happiness and Good Luck
Pineapples: a wish that the home occupants would always be Friendly and Hospitable
Bread: a wish that no one in the home would ever go hungry
Salt: a wish of Good Luck
Wine: a wish that no one would ever be Thirsty
Broom: a wish that it would sweep away any evil spirits and keep the house safe and clean
Wood: a wish for Harmony, Peace and Warmth always be in the home
Honey: a wish for Sweetness in life
Plants: a wish for a Prosperous life
Coins: a wish for Good Fortune
Candles: a wish that lights the way for a Joyous life

When I encountered this list of the old traditional gifts, it occurred to me that we could make a representative " Housing Warming" gift with numerous items in a gift basket full of good wishes.

Here are some ideas ( modern day substitutions ) for a very creative and expressive house warming gift for our real estate clients.

Substitution for the Traditional Gifts:

Bluebirds: a small porcelain or ceramic figurine of bluebirds found in most gift shops
Pineapple: a small pineapple serving dish found in many gift shops
Bread: a package of gourmet cookies or biscotti
Salt: a nice set of salt and pepper shakers
Wine: that one is easy
Broom: a brush and dust pan set
Wood: a small wood plaque for the Kitchen "blessing the home"
Honey: a decorative bottle of honey
Plants: an orchid centered in the basket
Coins: a small silver coin
Candles: a large white candle suitable for a centerpiece

I think you can see that there is a great deal of latitude in these gifts and you might just chose one like an electric broom or vacuum cleaner, or flower arrangement or several bottles of wine depending on your budget, But the basket above should be well within any budget. If you should make up a basket, don't forget to include what each part of the gift that you add represents. You will be long remembered for not only the gift but for all the good wishes you have expressed. 


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Comments (69)

Dale Taylor
Re/Max 10 New Lenox Illinois - Frankfort, IL
Realtor = Chicago Illinois Homes Townhomes Condos - If you or you have a spouse or loved one who likes to cook, and get the most efficient use of your time in the kitchen, here is a way to give house warming gifts, generate income, free stuff, and huge discounts.  My Spouse is a Pampered Chef Consultant, so I get to also support her business when I give any of these quality gifts.

Aug 06, 2014 04:51 AM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Such a nice post! That was interesting history to read. I always give a housewarming gift and try to personalize it as much as possible.

Aug 06, 2014 05:07 AM
Christi Farrington
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
~ Your representative in Fairfield County, CT

Thank you for the history surrounding the giving of gifts.  I, too, like to give a gift that is unique to my client - possibly something they had mentioned that would look 'perfect in that corner', a bottle of champagne to celebrate their purchase or a lovely plant.  It depends on the client.

Aug 06, 2014 06:07 AM
Raymond Edler
Keller Williams Realty Dallas Fort Worth 214-552-2091 - Prosper, TX
#1 Real Estate Office in DFW

Thanks for sharing!  I had no idea where that started. 

Aug 06, 2014 07:05 AM
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

This reminds me of the Polish custom of greeting guests with bread and salt. And I have seen a local Ukranian folk dance group perform a dance of this ceremony where the costumed dancers carry a loaf of bread on an embroidered towel with a salt container on top.

Aug 06, 2014 07:12 AM
Laura Moore
Coldwell Banker - Granite Bay, CA
Competent ~ Caring ~ Committed

Loved the post and the list of traditional gifts. You have a great twist to modernize.  Thanks for sharing!


Aug 06, 2014 07:21 AM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Thank You all for your great comments. I hope to be reading more about some of your ideas on customizing the House Warming gift that you put together for your clients. 

Aug 06, 2014 07:37 AM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Gift cards are another option but getting the information about traditional gifts was enlightening, so thanks for sharing that information.

Aug 06, 2014 08:44 AM
John DL Arendsen
CREST "BACKYARD' HOMES, ON THE LEVEL General & Manufactured Home Contractor, TAG Real Estate Sales & Investments - Leucadia, CA
Crest Backyard Homes "ADU" dealer & Contractor

I guess I'm a modern traditionalist or is that an oxymoron? I'm still a big believer in the Champagne and tickets to our local MOONLIGHT AMPHITHEATER!

Aug 06, 2014 09:04 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I love the idea of giving a basket of small gifts with their meanings attached on tags. What a special way to say "I wish you happiness in your new home."

Aug 07, 2014 03:20 AM
Steve Halen
HomeSMARTLifestyles - Queen Creek, AZ
Arizona Dream Home Search

Great Post!

I just love putting the keys into their hands along with a lovely gift card. 



Aug 07, 2014 08:26 AM
Cara Marcelle Mancuso
Long Realty - Dove Mountain, Marana AZ - Tucson, AZ
Call a Marana neighbor, I'm THERE! LONG REALTY

Just gave one of these to my clients, thanks to you.  My clients loved, loved, loved it.  Thank you again.

Aug 07, 2014 10:17 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Very interesting history and gift ideas.  If people do not drink you might consider a jam or jelly in place of the wine.

Aug 12, 2014 04:21 AM
Yolanda Cordova-Gilbert
Richmond, TX


 I really like this blog, I usually give my buyers a candle from Yankee Candle that that is the scent "Home Sweet Home". I hope you have a great weekend!

Aug 15, 2014 06:14 AM
Sharon Paxson
Compass - Newport Beach, CA
Newport Beach Real Estate

Thanks for sharing this great information about house warming gifts. Have a great weekend.

Aug 16, 2014 09:40 AM
Chris Lima
Atlantic Shores Realty Expertise - Port St Lucie, FL
Local or Global-Allow me to open doors for you.

I am usually dealing with customers for quite a few months on the web before ever meeting them and then showing properties and hopefully closing. By the time I get there, I usually have something in mind for a house warming gift that is unique to them.  People generally share a ton of information and if you pay close attention, it is fairly easy to present something that will not only show you appreciate them but that you were paying attention.

That being said, some people are difficult to read and really don't share too much and for those people, I AM SO THANKFUL for this post! 

Aug 17, 2014 06:04 AM
Dana Hollish Hill
Hollish Hill Group, JPAR Stellar Living - Bethesda, MD
REALTOR * Broker * Coach
I never thought about the term "house warming" before, but the history makes sense. Thanks for the little history lesson and great gift ideas.
Sep 09, 2014 10:15 PM
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL

I think we have some of the best reads out there on Active Rain. Thanks for sharing

Mar 18, 2015 01:19 PM
William Johnson
Retired - La Jolla, CA
Retired Real Estate Professional

Hi Winston Heverly , Thank you so much and you are right. We do have some of the best reads in the entire market place.

Mar 19, 2015 08:10 AM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

This is a great list of gifts worth giving. Thanks for the research you did forus

Apr 07, 2015 08:40 PM

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