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05.16.2001: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living |
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Housewarming registry?
Is it appropriate to register for housewarming gifts at a home/garden store and to include that on invitations to a house warming party you are giving?

Thanks, D.

A: I’ll be honest here: I’d never heard of anyone registering for a housewarming party before, but then again, and I’m embarrassed to admit this, it took me a couple of apartment-warmings before I even realized that I was supposed to be bringing gifts (beyond the usual food or drink, of course; I was never a complete boor!). But lo and behold, one learns something new everyday. After doing a little research, I discovered that these days, some folks have indeed co-opted that etiquette-sanctioned wedding registry tradition for the purposes of housewarming soirées. Well, will wonders never cease?

My feeling is this: while these days, it is probably perfectly acceptable to register for housewarming gifts, I personally wouldn’t bother. Unless a friend is throwing the party in your honor and is willing to actively spread news of the registry details for you, there’s no socially proper way for you to let guests know that you’ve registered. As is the case with even wedding registries, it’s always considered poor social etiquette to include a reference to where you’ve registered in your actual invitation. With weddings, everyone knows that they’re supposed to bring a gift, and thus chances are good that they’ll take it upon themselves to inquire about whether a registry exists. With a housewarming party, on the other hand, it is entirely possible that the vast majority of your friends – assuming they’re the typical sort of quasi-adults who, while perfectly kind and thoughtful individuals, simply missed out on charm school as youths – won’t even realize that a small gift is expected. Much less think to ask about that registry you’ve taken the time to set up at Bed, Bath and Beyond.

In my experience, so few twentysomethings are aware of the finer nuances of established housewarming etiquette (i.e. arriving with gift) that it’s best to treat the housewarming as just another excuse for a party. Plus a chance for you to show off your new nest, of course!

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more etiquette quandaries: cohabitation and parental disapproval 


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