Invited to a Russian house-warming party? So am I! Let’s choose the best housewarming present for our friends together. In this post, you’ll learn about Russian housewarming traditions and choose the best housewarming present!
For close friends, I prefer to buy something useful. Some nice towels or sets of glasses are never redundant. For people I don’t know well, I buy more neutral presents, such as quality chocolate or a bottle of wine.
For everyone who’s getting ready for a Russian housewarming party, I highly recommend the post “How do Russians Actually Say Cheers? Guide to Russian Toasts“
Now let me give you some more examples of housewarming gifts that your Russian friends or colleagues will definitely like.
Housewarming Gifts for Close Friends
From my observation, the two features of a good housewarming gift for Russians are utility and usefulness. So, think of your mates and imagine what could they need in their daily life or what would bring them joy in their new home. Here are some ideas.
- Textiles. A nice bathroom towel set is a good idea. A bedspread or a blanket is also a nice choice. But be careful with the color: white and grey will fit any interior. I received some bed linen as a housewarming gift, but none of them was the right size and I couldn’t use them.
- Kitchen utensils. This could be a set of quality cutting boards, baking equipment, or a set of cutlery. But don’t present knives, it’s bad luck!
- Equipment for storing. Beautiful boxes, magnet jars for spices, containers for spaghetti and grains, or organizers that can be used in a kitchen or anywhere else in the house is a very helpful gift.
- Household equipment. Depending on your budget, it can be a robotic vacuum cleaner or a hand blender. In the past, I received waffle irons, crepe makers, steamers, and other devices. However, most of them weren’t used more than a couple of times. To present something useful, I rely on my own experience and present things I can’t live without.
- Decor. It’s sometimes hard to choose decor that will meet your friend’s tastes, but if you’ve seen some decorations from their house, you can buy something similar. For instance, I know that my friend has some twine pot holders, so I’m thinking about buying her some decor elements of the same material.
- Home tool kit. The vast majority of Russian men prefer to do minor construction work about the house themselves. Almost nobody hires professionals to hang a curtain rod or to fix a faucet. So, a toolbox set is a great present for almost every Russian man.
Formal Housewarming Gifts
If you’re not very close with the hosts or if you were invited by your colleague, the following gift ideas might come in handy.
- A gift certificate from Amazon or another shop is a great decision if you know little or nothing about people you’re invited to. It would look really nice if you accompany it with a beautiful bouquet of flowers for the lady of the house.
- Quality alcohol is always considered a good present. A good wine, liqueur, champagne, or cognac is an excellent choice. However, a bottle of vodka isn’t on the list. Receiving a bottle of vodka as a housewarming gift would seem very weird, and probably show that a guest is trapped by stereotypes.
- Tea and sweets. Most Russians like tea. We usually drink it with candy, chocolate or cookies. So, a tea box with some sweet addition is always a good choice.
- Useful items. Even if you don’t know much about the hosts, here are some examples of housewarming gifts that will most likely suit everyone.
- Charging station for multiple devices. We’re all drowning in gadgets, wires, and power units. It’s very convenient to have it in one place.
- Electric wine aerator will be an excellent present for all wine lovers and drinkers.
Russian Housewarming Gift Traditions
Here I wanna briefly cover some gift giving traditions in Russia or in other words, some “dos” and “dont’s”.
Bring flowers to the lady of the house. It’s not an obligatory rule, but it always looks very nice.
Don’t present knives or mirrors. Many Russians are pretty superstitious and believe that these objects can bring discord and strife with the gift giver.
Don’t present used things. Russian gift-giving etiquette suggests that a housewarming present should be new, unless it’s an antique.
Don’t present stereotypical gifts such as vodka, matryoshka-doll, ushanka-hat if it’s not a gag gift.
Don’t present too personal or religious gifts to people you don’t know well. Bedclothes, hygiene items won’t likely be a suitable present for a colleague, as well as an icon or an amulet.
Traditional housewarming gifts in Russia
We’ve talked about some gift ideas for friends and colleagues, but if you want something more traditional, don’t hurry to order matryoshka-doll. The following ideas will suit this occasion much better.
A horseshoe is an ancient symbol of happiness. Turned upside down it resembles a cup, which is supposed to be full of happiness. It traditionally hung above the main entrance door. I remember my grandparents had one (my grandpa found it in the field).
Of course, you don’t need to go on a stable to find one. Any decoration (a key hook or clock) with a horseshoe will be a nice symbolic housewarming present.
Crassula ovata is also called a “money tree” in Russia and symbolizes richness and prosperity. I would say that presenting this plant as a housewarming gift is a new-born tradition, but it’s becoming more and more common across the country.
Domovoi figure or toy. Domovoi is a traditional kind home spirit that protects the family and the house and looks like a small old man. This is a very nice and ancient symbol of home familiar to every Russian.
Bread and Salt Housewarming Tradition
I hasten to say that the tradition to present bread and salt as a housewarming gift isn’t spread everywhere in Russia. Personally, I’ve heard of this tradition, but neither I nor any of my friends follow it.
However, in some places in Russia, people still bring bread and salt into a new place of living as a wish of prosperity is still alive.
So, before going to the store for a loaf of bread and salt, make sure that your hosts understand and share this tradition.
I hope that the above-mentioned ideas helped you to choose a nice housewarming present. If you have some doubts – don’t hesitate to ask me questions in the comments below.
Good luck and have fun on a housewarming party!