Gifts for those Leaving Home

Time to Fly the Nest!

Off to college or university, or about to begin life in your first home? Or are you looking for gift ideas for a young adult who is about to fly the parental nest?

Here is a practical resource for gift ideas, or use it as a check-list for the things you'll need when starting out on your own.  It is particularly aimed at those on a very tight budget.

Safety First! Every home should have a good First Aid kit. This might sound like a dull gift idea but it is undeniably a very useful one, and many young people overlook practicalities like this. First Aid saves lives. Maybe you might consider offering to pay for an accredited First Aid course? As well as being practical, this also looks good on a CV.

Security! How many previous residents have keys to the new home? Installing new locks is always advisable when moving into any property. If the landlord forbids this for some reason, then at least install bolts, window locks (if they aren't already in place) and a strong door chain.

If room-sharing is on the cards, then a strong secure box (lockable) is highly recommended. to keep personal documents, money or valuables safe from itchy fingers. A roommate might be trustworthy - but what about their friends and their friend's friends? A more determined thief would simply walk off with the strong box, but it may be enough to deter the casual opportunist. It's best to keep such things stored out of sight, even so.

Buy, buy, buy! If a young person hasn't already learned now to budget properly, then dealing with bills can come as a shock - especially if their parents weren't given to talking about money or the cost of living. Shops are designed to tempt the eye, and the world is full of pretty things which you don't actually need. Likewise, despite what their advertising might imply, banks are not there to help people but to make profit - and people's debts are a bank's way of achieving this. Therefore, perhaps you might consider offering a gift of a sensible book on basic finance. This might inspire bewilderment from the rosy-eyed home-leaver, but at least you'll know you tried to instill a sense of responsibility.

Contents insurance might seem a boring subject to someone eager to head off into The Big Wide World, but even if your property is minimal the cost of replacing everything, should disaster or thieves strike, can be high.  Shop around for a good deal - and do take the time to read all the small print and be clear on precisely what the insurance covers, and to what monetary limit.  Some deals are cheaper simply because they're no so good.

Golden Rule!

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be!"

If you can't afford to replace it, (at the same quality), don't borrow it.

If you can afford to replace it, buy your own anyway.

Many more exclusive gifts available from Spooky Cute Designs.
Many more exclusive gifts available from Spooky Cute Designs.

Gifts for a Home-Leaver's Kitchen!

Most students find it vital to travel light. They know they're going to be moving around between accommodation (student and parental) or even between colleges, and they also know they'll have to carry all their worldly goods with them. So unless that student can afford to pay for a removals van each time, it's best to keep possessions to a minimum.

Walk into any kitchenware shop and you'll be confronted with a mass of sparkly products. The good news is that you don't need most of them. They might be nice to have if you've a huge kitchen and a comfortable income, but most young adults starting out in life have a very tight budget and soon learn that a shared kitchen means you have to store all your gear in your room to ensure it isn't "borrowed." Therefore, it's often best to keep such property to a minimum which can be stashed away in a box or two.

An electric kettle, cups, plates, bowls and flatware are basic essentials. Leave the purchase of a large dinner set for another time in your life. You can save a lot of money by buying your kitchenware from an ordinary market rather than from a department store. How many plates/bowls/cups you buy is up to you but four of each is practical quantity (assuming you'll have a few friends over now and then!)

One sharp 6" vegetable knife will serve most cutting/peeling/chopping purposes in any kitchen.

Probably the most multi-functional pan on earth is the wok. You can use it for boiling, simmering, frying - or even use it as a mixing bowl. Add to this a medium-sized saucepan, and you'll have enough to get by with. You can always purchase other things over time.

There is some controversy over which kinds of materials are the healthiest for pans to be made from. Aluminium is cheap but has also been suggested as a possible contributory cause of Alzheimer's disease. Similarly, non-stick surfaces now attract suspicion. Some people believe that stainless steel to be the healthiest option - though as with all such debates, ideas change over time.

A chopping board and two or three wooden spoons will complete your list of basic kitchen tools.

Food! Pasta, rice and noodles are cheap, easy to transport, and incredibly easy to cook. Most households store these staples, and they make a practical gift for someone leaving home. Maybe you might make a gift of a week's groceries, or fill a cardboard box with basics like beans, soup, nuts and peas in readiness for setting out in your new life.

But a person cannot live healthily on tinned goods or ready meals. Fresh fruit and vegetables, and a protein source (usually eggs, fish and meat) are needed. So how about adding a no-nonsense cookery book? Some of these are aimed specifically at people living on a budget, or who are just learning how to cook for themselves.

Gifts for a Home-Leaver's Living Room!

Student accommodation tends to be small and functional. Find out in advance exactly what furniture is provided. If you intend travelling around, keep large purchases to an absolute minimum for the sake of your own convenience.

I assume you'll want to sit down at some point. The novelty of sitting on the floor soon wears off. It's cold and rather hard on the derriere, and if you're trying to write or study you'll rapidly get backache. If travel is on the cards, try a fold-away chair.

Space, or rather the lack of it, is often an issue in student accommodation, and for people ready to leave their parental home the hurdle is often more one of budget. How about a folding tray-table?   You can use it as a dining surface or rest text books on it, and it will be a lot cheaper and more transportable than a proper table.  You've all your life before you during which you can purchase better, more elegant things.  Meanwhile, aim for what is functional.

Browse second-hand stores, craft fairs and jumble sales for bargains. If an interesting piece of furniture is badly scratched, try your hand at "shabby chic." Furniture bought this way can save money and also give a home real individuality and character.

A landlord's choice of hard-wearing (also known as vile) carpet can easily be disguised with a rug.

A few plants and colourful nic-nacs soon make a new place feel more like home.

Gifts for a Home-Leaver's Bathroom!

When you've just moved into your first home, one of the initial realisations is just how much stuff you took for granted.  Previously you'd have simply opened a drawer or a cupboard and the required item would already be there.  Now you're on your own and about to launch on a learning curve.

If breaking your neck in the shower holds no appeal, purchase a non-slip shower mat.  Shower curtains tend to go ikky after a while - but you can extend their life by running them through the washing machine and by sponging them down with a dilute solution of bleach.

A similar mat on a tile or linoleum bathroom floor is also a good idea.  It might seem old-fashioned but it'll keep your feet warmer and prevent bruises accidents.

Towels - hand towels, bath towels, and face cloths.  Probably the minimum per person would be two bath towels and four hand towels and face cloths. 

Every bathroom should have a First Aid Kit.

Gifts for a Home-Leaver's Bedroom!

Is a bed provided?  If so, how old is the mattress and what condition is it in?  Perhaps you might consider purchasing a zip-up air-tight mattress bag, such as those sometimes used by asthmatics to contain dust mites and other allergens.  A purpose-made foam mattress covering not only adds comfort to an old mattress but is much warmer too.

Two pillows are usual, but this depends on a person's own choice.  Duvet covers often have pillow cases as part of the set.  Two duvet covers are the minimum that you'll need - so one can be in use while the other is being laundered.  Likewise, two sheets.  A fleecy warm blanket is a valuable extra, as being cold is not only miserable but bad for health.

© 2010 Adele Cosgrove-Bray

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