I think the most exciting part of my life has always been when I start something new, and what’s newer than setting up your very first home? It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, newlyweds, or just someone starting over. It’s exhilarating, daunting, and slightly scary.
I had already picked out my apartment when Greg had asked me to marry him. That set us on a whole different path than the one I had planned. Like most newlyweds we had so little. I had invested my entire fortune on a new bedroom suite. In hindsight it was a good investment. We had it for 30 years before we sold it–and it was still in great shape.
We were already married two years before we bought another stick of furniture, relying instead on a huge cardboard box for a dining table and two industrial cardboard drums for chairs. Good times!
My mother had bought me a set of pots and pans. Someone else gave us a set of towels. But the kitchen supplies came from what little cash I could scrape together. To this day, if I buy newlyweds a present, I almost always include a laundry bin filled with pantry supplies and cooking utensils. It’s what gave me the most pride when I was young because they made me feel like an adult–a self-sufficient adult no longer attached to mom’s apron strings.
With June coming up, it reminds me of weddings, college, and college graduates. Here are my picks for great gifts.
It all depends on how well you know the person, but if they’re starting from nothing, you can be assured, they’ll need everything.
• Pots and pans: Depending on their situation and cooking ability, you can either buy a cheap set that will last them a couple of years, or a great set that could last a lifetime.
Storage containers: Glass, please. Let’s try to reduce our dependence on plastic.
• Pantry staples: I use a laundry bin, but you can do something smaller like a stock pot filled with spices, a sturdy set of cooking utensils, and a set of silicone oven mitts.
I have one of these silicone mitts and plan on getting one more. They are far better than the old quilted ones. No heat transfer at all!
Another idea would be to get a large pasta bowl and fill it with all the ingredients necessary to make a grand pasta dinner, including the pricey olive oil and fresh garlic.
• Kitchen Towels: Towels might seem a cheap gift, but boy, are they useful. I bought this particular set for myself. They’re good, absorbent bar towels.
• Food: You can’t go wrong with food. In a large brown bag, fill it to the brim with canned goods, spices, pastas, flour, sugar, and rice. A nice gift certificate to a grocery store will allow them to buy fresh meat and vegetables. When we were starting out, food was a luxury, I kid you not. I know a hundred ways to stretch a chicken. LOL!
• Throw pillows, bedspreads, and hooked rugs: If you’re handy, you can make these. My mother was always making me throw pillows, curtains, and comforters. They weren’t just gifts from the heart, but keepsakes. When deciding on a gift, don’t discount your innate talents. I still have the handmade gifts I was given.
Linen: If you know the size of their bed, give them a quality set of sheets. If not, a set of thick bath towels are just as nice.
Clock: Mundane maybe, but there are some clocks with clever assets, like the kind that recharge your cell phones.
Other stuff: I mentioned streaming, but don’t forget other subscriptions, like magazines, or Amazon Prime for shopping. College students get a special discount for Prime. Join Amazon Student FREE Two-Day Shipping for College Students
Fire Extinguisher: I will admit, this is a boring gift, so be sure to make this an add-on to your ‘other’ gift. This is something people starting out NEVER buy for themselves. No one expects to have a fire which is why no one seems to have a fire extinguisher. If you’ve ever lived through a house fire, you’ll know what I mean. It could mean the difference between losing a kitchen and losing an entire home–or worse.
Plants: Okay, I’ll admit this is something I would’ve wanted. Even if they don’t have any dirt to call their own, a potted plant is a sweet gift and costs very little. You might be turning someone into a future gardener, and then you can send them to me so we can talk about tomatoes and geraniums. 🙂
I get sentimental with young people starting out. Although cash is always appreciated, I still remember the “little things” I was given back when I had nothing. They’re precious to me.
How did you start out? I hope you did better than the cardboard box we had. I have to laugh about our “dining room table” but it really wasn’t so bad.
What was your favorite gift when you got married or first left home?
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