Housewarming gifts date back to the practice of neighbours bringing firewood to "warm" a new home, dispelling any malevolent spirits in the process. While we may no longer believe such superstitions, leaving gifts for the next owners when you sell a home remains a kind and thoughtful gesture. It is also an opportunity to say goodbye to a property you have loved.
In many European countries, bread, salt and wine were traditionally offered when someone moved to a new house. In the 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life the reason for this is given: "Bread, that this house may never know hunger; salt, that life may always have flavour [and] wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever." In Italy, variations on this theme include candles, to represent hope, and olive oil, for health and well-being. A more exotic symbol of hospitality and welcome is the pineapple. Sailors returning home to the Caribbean island of Guadalupe would typically place a pineapple outside their front door to announce their return and let neighbours know they could visit.
Take inspiration from these customs to assemble a hamper of gourmet local produce, with a handwritten card to explain the meaning of each item. Choose, for example, organic honey, artisan breads and small-batch olive oil from the farmers' market, adding a selection of bottles from your wine merchant. Providing details of which suppliers you favour will encourage them to support independent businesses.
A guide to the neighbourhood
Introduce the incoming owners to their new neighbourhood by compiling a book of recommendations for restaurants, boutiques, spas and salons. Photographs, recent newspaper reviews and information about galleries, theatres and cultural events will all be well received. Leave a few blank pages for them to add their own discoveries. You could also include membership to a museum or arrange for them to receive invitations to forthcoming private viewings.
Commissioning a customised object is a considerate touch. A framed vintage print of a nearby landmark or an antique map make unique additions to an interior, and will inspire the recipient to research the area's history. Alternatively, a leather luggage tag embossed with the address, a monogrammed doormat or a photo frame with the date engraved on it can all commemorate a property purchase. Consider a personalised stationery set so the new owners can inform friends and family of their new address.
If you're looking for a new neighbourhood to call home, contact Engel & Völkers. With an expansive global portfolio of luxury apartments and houses, our expert advisors can help you find a property in the area that's right for you – whether that's a cool Scandinavian capital, a secluded Mediterranean island or an Alpine ski resort.