Growing up, I moved around-a lot. From my calculations, I attended four elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools, all before age 18. My mom was an adventurous sort, and moving just kind of became what we did. As a young adult, the inclination towards periodic relocations stayed with me. I moved off campus my freshman year of college and, from ages 18-30, resided for varying amounts of time in 16 different homes, apartments, and rooms. I’ve been in my current home since March 2007, which, admittedly, feels weird. I still get the itch to move-all the time. The hubs is constantly hearing me wax poetic about some new dig, somewhere else, sure to please. What can I say? Old habits die hard.
My youngest sister is preparing to return to Notre Dame University for her sophomore year while my other sister is considering moving out of the house for the first time (don’t worry Pops, you’re got grandkids now!). Both of these pending departures and relocations got me thinking about how much I love everything surrounding moving. From the packing to the sorting to the schlepping, I grew to love it all. Topping the list of moving loves, though, is undoubtedly the housewarming party. While we never really got around to having them when I was young (we were on the go too much, I guess!), as I’ve aged and moved (and then moved again!), I love throwing a party, inviting friends over, and sharing my new stomping grounds with them. I also love attending housewarming parties and, with all the moving that often occurs during the summer months, thought I’d make today’s “small measure” about crafting a homemade housewarming gift basket.
Homes are places where people’s lives unfold in deeply personal ways and recognizing the immense significance that a new home holds shouldn’t go unacknowledged. To that end, I suggest festooning a new house, apartment, co-op, loft, or room-dweller with a gift basket packed full of customized provisions. I especially like to employ the European tradition of giving bread, salt, and wine at housewarmings. Each of the items is significant, referring to a specific wish or blessing the bestower intends for the recipient. A number of interpretations exist, but the general gist falls along these lines:
“Bread so that you’ll never go hungry.
Salt so you’ll have good luck.
Wine so you’ll never be thirsty.”
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Other useful items packed with symbology include candles and honey, the former to banish darkness and the latter so that life will always be sweet. Why not pack up a gift basket chock full of these items, along with some additional sweetness in the form of chocolate and homemade jam, and infused bottles of olive oil and vinegar? Either bake a loaf yourself (Molly Wizenberg of the much-loved Orangette has been giving a serious shout to this bread recently) or pick up one locally made. Wrap it up in a new tea towel for an added touch of homeyness. Salt can be gifted in its original bottle, or gussied up in a salt cellar. If you know your recipient’s palate, select a wine they love, or look for a locally grown offering to capitalize on the sense of place. A jam made with area fruits and olive oil and vinegar infused with nearby herbs further showcases the splendor and bounty available in the new locale.
You could also print up vouchers for a night of childcare, pet-sitting during vacation, or an afternoon of yard work, should any of those apply to your buddy’s new residence. Similarly, you might also simply write up a note offering to show them the town, should they be unfamiliar with all the treasures and troves their new location has in store. Whatever you offer, even if it’s just a low maintenance houseplant or a pack of well-made incense, will let the recipient know you’re glad they’re there and happy to help them settle in.
And as far as the “basket” itself is concerned, don’t limit yourself only to traditional woven baskets. Feel free to stash your goods in a wooden salad bowl, hanging plant basket, metal mesh basket, or any other receptacle that will prove useful in your recipient’s new pad. Of course, a woven basket could be a great choice, as well, especially those that could be later used to frequent area grocers and farmer’s markets (hubs and I own 2 of these African market baskets and keep them in the car at all times for market use).
What about you? Got any favorite items you love gifting the newly relocated with? I’d love to hear about them! Whether you’re the one with the dust settling or the friend with the pick-up truck (oh, most woeful of fates!), here’s wishing you a permanently stocked larder, a life full of sweetness and bliss, and all the good luck in the world! -ashley (you can also find me on twitter!)