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Neighborhood of the Week: Risk assessment for home-related gifts

by TYLER WILSON/Special to The Press
| April 24, 2022 1:00 AM

Not everybody wants a candle.

Candles, for whatever reason, make frequent appearances as housewarming gifts. While we don’t need to be mean about it, gifting a candle can sometimes come across as impersonal. I’m sure plenty of people appreciate them, but it isn’t the most functional gift for someone like, say, a parent of small children. Those tiny hands don’t need any more fire hazards around them.

So what can you get someone who just moved into a new house? The braintrust at Neighborhood of the Week has some ideas, ranked by level of risk. How well you know a person and their situation will factor into how confident you can be about your home-related gift.

Low risk

While it seems even more impersonal than a candle, a gift card can be an incredibly thoughtful gift, especially if you encourage the recipient to spend the money in a certain way. Give the person some instructions with that Amazon gift card, like “Buy some new sheets you like,” or “pick out some eclectic wall art.”

For an even more personal experience, print out a link of some options you like, then give that person the autonomy to make their own decision. Following up with the recipient is another opportunity to connect, like something as simple as a text that says, “Hey, what you end up picking out with your gift card?” If they haven’t used it yet, encourage them. “What, gurrrrlll? Get spending!” or “Treat yo self, boi!” You come up with the text message, I’m not so good at that.

Medium risk

Try to invite yourself to a future party by giving food, drink and dinnerware/glassware. First off, get a sense of what they like — are they craft beer drinkers? Prefer wine? Or maybe they’d like to try the latest flavor of Coca-Cola. What is this “Coca-Cola “Starlight” all about? Is it Coke mixed with StarKist tuna? Yum!

Pair the food and/or drink with some kind of reusable vessel — be it some kind of party plate, wine or beer glasses or even something super functional like food storage containers. Everybody eventually needs more tupperware.

Here’s a key ingredient to your success — just be up front and ask them what they might like in terms of something functional they’ll reuse. Straight up ask, “Do you need wine glasses? What kind of glassware do you like? Do you want one with Baby Yoda on the front?”

Also, don’t be lame and buy stuff that’s “hand wash only.” People are busy. They just want something they can throw in a dishwasher.

High risk

Going the decor route can be dangerous on many fronts. For one, it’s easy to buy something you like that somebody else won’t. We all have our own personal style, and buying the wrong thing can create a situation where that person either has to lie to your face or tell you they don’t like it.

Another issue — buying something in a certain style that makes the recipient feel like they “should” decorate their house a certain way. Not everybody wants to display abstract art or decorative pillows, or as I’ve learned, oversized posters of “Snakes on a Plane.” Actually, no, everybody should want a framed poster of “Snakes on a Plane.”

Another high risk proposition — home essentials. Just because someone needs more bath towels doesn’t necessarily mean they want the ones you pick out.

It can also be a little condescending to buy someone essentials like batteries, lightbulbs, or even common tools. You don’t want them saying, “Hey, you don’t think I can buy my own essentials?” Parents can buy these sorts of things, but friends should probably steer clear.

Same goes for gifting services like housekeeping or repair. Even if someone needs these things, you probably don’t want your gift to come with the message of, “Your house needs work!” At least pick that battle for another time, or at least before you have the urge to call the producers at “Hoarders.”

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Let us know about story ideas, standout neighborhoods and developments that we may feature in an upcoming Neighborhood of the Week. Contact Tyler Wilson at twilson@cdapress.com.

Attention Real Estate Agents! Take advantage of Neighborhood of the Week by sending in your suggestions for featured areas, including sites outside the normal confines of Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden.