The Professor and I are all moved into our new apartment, DIY projects and all, and have settled in quite nicely. We have our nightly dinners in front of Netflix, our weekly jogs around the new neighborhood, and regular, juvenile bickering over who ate the last of the Oreos. (We like our sweets.) Overall, it’s turning into a pretty comfy and cozy life.
So now, we’re planning our official housewarming.
One problem -- I have no idea what happens at a housewarming.
When I called my best friend to tell her the event was happening, she responded enthusiastically. “Yay! Great! What do you need?”
“Um… uh,” I stuttered. “I guess you can bring a dessert, maybe some wine….”
“Girl, NO,” she interrupted. “What do you need for the house?”
I had no answer.
“You’re having a housewarming,” she continued. “So your guests are supposed to bring items to help you ‘warm the house.’ So what do you need?”
I was stumped.
Remember all that DIY-refurbishing and thrift shopping we did? Well, it worked out pretty well. Our apartment is just about fully furnished and functional, thanks to my deal-seeking on furniture and David’s penchant for up picking electronic and kitchen gadgets.
Plus, as two, single adults, we each had accumulated our own stockpile of belongings before deciding to shack up. We’re not really wanting for anything, save for a few fairly large items (a knife block, another set of curtains, and a rug and chair for my office -- I’m using a dining room chair for now) that are inappropriate for us request as gifts.
But my friends like bringing gifts. They’re a very caring, very generous bunch, and super-enthusiastic about helping us start our new life together. I’ve tried the “You don’t need to bring anything” line, but that was met with swift rejection -- “I’m not coming to your housewarming empty-handed” has been the standard response.
Eventually we decided gift cards would be the order of the day. Simple, easy, and everyone wins. My friends are able to give something, and we’re able to make the purchases that we’ve been putting off.
But the whole thing got me thinking about the next step on the horizon -- marriage, and the politics of having a wedding registry.
I see it like this -- if my friends and family are enthusiastic now about us moving in together, I know they’re going to want to go all out when we tie the knot. But, again, two adults, lots of stuff, already living together. I wouldn’t know what to register for.
We have a blender. We have a food processor. David even has a milkshake machine (which I didn’t know was a thing.) I refuse to put together a registry requesting fancy plates and utensils when we have a set that works just fine for us. Sure, so the plates don’t exactly match, but they do coordinate beautifully. At least I think so.
I have a friend (several, actually) who says they don’t believe in buying traditional registry gifts for couples who have been living together for a while. And I understand why! How have you been getting along this far along without towels? Is there not enough flatware in your cabinets? Are you reeeeeeally asking us to buy a $400 bowl for vegetables? (It sounds cynical, but hey, this is how we feel.)
And now, in the midst of planning our first “traditional,” “gift-bringing” occasion as a couple, I’m finding myself thinking about when we start planning for the big event down the line.
To be fair, I’ve seen some inventive and heart-warming alternatives to traditional registries. A friend of ours had a small registry with a bunch of quirky home knick-knacks on it. I’ve read of couples setting up a “honeyfund,” where friends could contribute to their honeymoon instead of bringing toasters to the ceremony. And I’ve seen other marrieds request that wedding guests donate to a worthy cause instead of lugging along a gift, which I think is a sweet and noble alternative.
As “traditional” lifestyles have changed, so have the traditions that go with them. All of which is why the process of planning a housewarming has me and the Professor talking about what will happen when we start planning a wedding. “I don’t want to ask anyone to buy us pots,” I say. “We have pots already and they work just fine.”
“True,” he replies, “but wine glasses would be nice.” I can’t even argue with that. A girl loves a great set of stemware.