Roommate Gift-Giving: A Complete Guide

Here at My First Apartment we love the holiday season – it’s a time to get  together with old friends,  it’s a time to reflect upon the year gone by, and it’s also a time to exchange presents. For the first apartment dwellers among us, that can mean a good ol’ fashioned roommate gift swap. But how to do it? We have rounded up here our bloggers’ roommate gifting suggestions to guide you. The key take-away is that a successful roommate gift exchange requires some planning. 

Our blogger Katie starts with her pointers on roommate gifting – such as having  a pre-determined price point, and setting aside a pre-planned time for the event, so that nobody is caught by surprise.  Elyse recommends a Secret Santa if you have several housemates. She also suggests that you give such an arrangement a bit of ceremonial air, with everyone getting together to conduct the exchange.

In lieu of gifts, you and your roommates can share a holiday dinner, or take trip to a favorite bar, points out Alissa. She also mentions that giving gifts to roommates is by no means a necessity – it all depends on the situation. In fact, sometimes it’s appropriate not to gift at all, which is what yours truly has been doing all along. That’s because gift-giving to roommates is very gendered: females generally do it, and males generally don’t. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, but that’s what experience tells us.

Most recently we guest posted on the Zillow blog about holiday gift-giving, and suggested that instead of gifts to each other, roommates might chip in and get something for the apartment, like  a great coffee maker. Though there’s no rule that gifts have to be holiday-related, even if they’re given during December. As  Doug points out first-time renters need a lot, everything from first aid kits to matching silverware to set up home. And they’d probably be happy to receive it, whatever the season.  In a similar vein, our resident chef, Sam, wrote about how to equip your first kitchen on the cheap – for those looking for a last minute gift, Sam has some great practical ideas for someone just starting out.

So, as the holidays approach, don’t fret. Talk to you roommates and decide jointly what to do about gifts.  Do it early-ish and you’ll feel good knowing you’re giving people important in your life a well-considered present. This is far better than surprising your roommates with nice gifts as you dash off to the airport, and then feeling disappointed because they’re standing there empty-handed.

When you’re all done, settle in, grab a cup of eggnog, and join us by the fireside.

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Author My First Apartment

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Alex has rented in Minneapolis, Queens, Brooklyn, and now Chicago. He can kill rodents and roaches when required, and loves picture-hanging projects. If you're ever in town, give him a shout.

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Comments (1)

  1. Avatar Sovereign Associates

    Secret Santa is always a fun solution to gift giving. The holidays can become so hectic that its better to talk to your love ones and/or roommates about what you can afford. Instead of stressing out, make sure you find a way to enjoy yourself and the holiday. The practical gift for people renting their first apartments is also an idea that we like. Great post, thanks for sharing!