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8 Things To Consider When Buying A Housewarming Gift

If you’re like me, you struggle to find just the right housewarming gift for a friend, relative or client that has just moved into a new home. Yet, this is one of the most important times in one’s life and what you gift could make a difference in your relationship.

8 Things To Consider When Buying A Housewarming Gift

  1. Is it appropriate for the nature of your relationship? If your shopping for a client you might want to stay away from bedroom or even bathroom items and focus on the kitchen, living room, dining room, foyer, library, den or other areas of the home. My favourites are the kitchen, garage, mudroom, porch, garden and shed. If your shopping for a family member or close friend then you could get away with items for the bathroom or bedroom, just avoid being tacky. You want something that gives the right message that stays around for a while.
  2. Will it make their life easier? Some gifts require maintenance and effort and can become more of a nuisance than anything else. Giving a gift that requires some technical skills to set-up or use to an elderly person who is not familiar with technology will not go over well. If you’re going to give a gift like an Alexa to someone who is not comfortable or familiar with the Internet of Things, then be prepared to set it up for them and be called when they are having a problem with it. Items like the Magic Bullet are easy to use, clean and make food preparation a lot easier.
  3. Will it make their home more comfortable? Most people appreciate items that feel comfy or make their home more comfortable. A good pair of house slippers, a couch blanket, a throw pillow, or house coat make great gifts that may be used often. Just make sure you pick the right colour and item that they will want to use.
  4. Will it make their home look better? Everyone wants to find ways for their new home to look better. Wall plaques, posters, fridge magnets, hangers, mail boxes, house numbers and decor items offer great variety to choose from regardless of price constraints.
  5. Does it match their character? Giving a gift that matches one’s character tells them that you actually get them. Avoid the little syndrome where you buy someone what you like or need, rather than what the recipient would want.
  6. Will it fit into their lifestyle? Home bodies that like gardening, cooking and puttering around the house will appreciate gifts related to entertainment (music, television or movies), the garden (gnomes, birdhouses, tools), the kitchen (gadgets and utensils). Customized or monogrammed items like coffee cups, hand towels, oven gloves and cooking aprons can work well and have staying power. On the other hand those that like to get outdoors or hit the gym might appreciate things like a bike rack, equipment storage unit, monogrammed golf balls, indoor putting cups, and monogrammed towels.
  7. Do they need it? In this day and age, does anyone really ‘need’ anything. Seems like we’re surrounded by much more than we really need. So when you buy an item, make sure you’re not duplicating something they already have covered. For example, if they spend most of their time at the office, with Starbucks as their backup, then do you really need that gift for their den? Yet, there are items that are necessities for the home.
  8. Do they want it? There are tell-tale signs to watch for that reveal what an individual wants. You can see it in the magazines they read, websites they visit, things they talk about, even what they look at or pay attention to in discussions. If they’re asking you questions about something specific, chances are that’s what they want. You can test this by talking about some of your gift ideas ahead of time to see what they think about that item.

Remember that when buying gifts for someone moving into a new home, you want to give something that they will appreciate, use often, show that you know them and that you care enough to find the right gift just for them. Whatever gift you choose, you’re likely to make a better impression when it is customized to the individual. Monogrammed items, items with their name, their favourite colours, sayings, reference to their life journey, work, play, relationships, lifestyle or sports team affiliations will make that extra difference.

Share some of your good, and not so good stories, about housewarming or homewarming gifts you’ve given and the outcome.

Signs of a Hoarder

It is important to know the signs of a hoarder because hoarding is a dangerous behaviour which can lead to fires, insect and rodent infestation, disease and other serious health, safety and legal consequences. Recognizing a hoarder will help prevent a situation which can be costly, if not disastrous for landlords, partners and housemates.  In my work as a Real Estate Professional and Property Manager, I sometimes come across homes where hoarders are living. Sometimes they are owner-occupied and sometimes they are tenanted, but in both situations they require a lot of time and effort to deal with the situation. This post will help you recognize the signs of a hoarder, understand the impact of hoarding and will provide some references for the process to deal with the situation and useful techniques.

Hoarding living room
Example of hoarding in a living room. Attribution: Shadwwulf at English Wikipedia

Definition of Hoarding

Hoarding is more accurately known as Hording Disorder or Compulsive Hoarding. It is a behavioural pattern expressed through excessive accumulation of, and inability or willingness to discard, large quantities of objects that cover the living areas of one’s home, causing significant distress, and/or persistent discontent resulting in impairment to one’s quality of life and ability to function. Hoarding behaviour is often associated with not just health risks and impaired functioning, but also workplace impairment, economic burden, as well as, adverse effects on family members and friends. At extremes, hoarding can prevent intended use of space to the point that it limits activities, such as sleeping, moving through the house, cleaning, cooking and entertaining.

Though in most cases, hoarders are aware of their irrational behaviour, the emotional attachment to the hoarded objects is much greater than the motive to discard the items. In fact, the underlying attachment may not be about the items themselves, but the need to simply accumulate items for a sense of security and/or stability.

Though it remains unclear whether compulsive hoarding is a separate, isolated disorder, or simply a symptom of some other condition, from my experience I have found that it is tied to some traumatic event or ongoing dysfunctional situation that occurred in one’s past. Regardless, it is considered to be a Compulsive Obsessive Disorder. Importantly, hoarding only gets worse with age. Getting to the underlying cause of this behaviour is essential to dealing with hoarders. However, you’re not likely to cure them and should recruit the help of a qualified and experienced mental health professional or coach.

Signs of a Hoarder

There are some red flags or signs that you should be aware of when identifying a hoarder. Some of these signs are easier to identify than others and they should never be considered conclusive proof that an individual is a hoarder. Use them as red flags to explore the possibility as part of your due diligence process in dealing with individuals.

  1. Avoid guests and visits to their homes.
  2. Indecision about what to keep or where to put things.
  3. Distress or feeling overwhelmed or even embarrassed by possessions.
  4. Wearing shoes, accessories or clothing that is worn beyond reason.
  5. Fear of contamination or superstitious thoughts.
  6. Fear of change.
  7. Suspicion of other people touching their items.
  8. Obsessive thoughts and actions, such as fear of running out of an item or needing it in the future, checking the trash for unintentionally discarded items.
  9. Significant difficulty organizing or categorizing possessions.
  10. Social Isolation.
  11. Family or Marital Discord.
  12. Financial Difficulties.
  13. Serious anxiety when attempting to discard items – watch people that save packaging or bits of leftovers.
  14. Take free items even when they don’t need them.
  15. Appears to be more common in those with psychological disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
  16. Associated factors may include alcohol dependence, paranoid schizotypal personality and avoidance traits.

A Hoarder Home

Though it may be too late for landlords to avoid ahead of time, these are the signs of hoarders inside their homes (in addition to the above):

  1. They hold onto a large number of items that most people would consider useless or worthless, such as:
    • Junk mail, old catalogues, magazines and newspapers
    • Freebies and promotional items
    • Worn-out or outdated cooking equipment
    • Things that might be good for making crafts
    • Clothes that they might want to wear one day
    • Trash and broken items
  2. Their home is cluttered to the extent that many areas are inaccessible and no longer used for other than storage, such as:
    • Unsanitary washrooms
    • Showers, sinks, and tubs filled with items and can no longer be used for washing or bathing
    • Kitchens that cannot be used for cooking or food preparation
    • Beds that cannot be used
    • Tables, chairs, or couches that cannot be used for dining or sitting
  3. Their clutter and mess has reached an extent that it can cause distress, illness, and impairment, causing the hoarders to:
    • Keep the shades drawn to hide their clutter from the outside
    • Get into a lot of arguments with family members about their clutter
    • Not allow visitors in, even family and friends, or repair and maintenance workers, because they are embarrassed by the clutter
    • Are at risk of fire, falling, infestation, or eviction
    • Feel anxious or depressed because of the clutter
    • Be reluctant or unable to return borrowed items

It is estimated that between 2% and 5% of all adults are hoarders. So, if you deal with tenants or homeowners, you’re likely to come across hoarders more often than you may think. It is good that you be prepared by having a process, techniques and professionals in place to help deal with these situations.


I’m working on my next post to discuss the process, resources, and techniques in dealing with hoarders. Follow me on social media or visit my website regularly to be notified of when it is published.

Baldo Minaudo, M.B.A.  (Direct: 416-564-0245)

Real Estate Broker, Real Estate Homeward Brokerage Inc.

Property Manager specializing in downtown Toronto rental condos and Toronto east-end rental detached homes (not affiliated with Real Estate Homeward Brokerage Inc.)

#hoarding #hoarders #hoardingdisorder #compulsivehoarding