Awesome Housewarming Surprise Ideas?
December 19, 2008 6:06 AM   Subscribe

My bf just moved into his new apartment last week, but will be out of town for the next two weeks for the holidays. I have the keys to his place and I want to make the place a little homier while he's away, without being too overbearing. Any thoughts?

My ideas so far:

- basic groceries
- basic cleaning items (mop, broom)
- nice kitchen trashcan (he's using a tiny one right now) & trashbags

I'm a broke grad student, so I have a limited budget (less than $50). I don't want to do much involving interior design or unpacking, because he's rather particular about the placement of his things.
posted by chara to Home & Garden (34 answers total)
 
Photo of the two of you, framed and hung.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:15 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Yeah, I gotta disagree with Tomorrowful's suggestion. My boyfriend's got a key to my place, but if he started hanging up pictures of us on MY walls... awkwardberg straight ahead!

Your thought of groceries and cleaning items is a good one as long since this is a new place and all. He can use that stuff. Does he cook at all? You could get him something kitchen related like some Tupperware (or a cheaper brand) or a spice rack, wooden spoons, spatulas, things like that.
posted by katillathehun at 6:31 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah, yeah, I was assuming, with no real reason to do so, that you're a long enough/serious enough couple that something like that is legitimate. My bad.

I'll go in on the groceries as a good idea; cleaning stuff is... useful, but doesn't really say "homey" to me.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:39 AM on December 19, 2008


Cook and freeze some meals for him?
A houseplant?
Throw rug for the couch?
Baking?
posted by gaspode at 6:39 AM on December 19, 2008


A doormat for outside the door or a rug for inside the door? I like the idea of cooking for him, and/or getting groceries and cleaning supplies.
posted by cooker girl at 6:45 AM on December 19, 2008


Nothing beats coming home to a clean bathroom. Especially as guys are notorious for unkempt toilets. "Wow, the inside of my toilet is....white?" But seriously, someone did this for me once and the fact that someone would thoroughly clean my toilet showed a level of selflessness that I have never forgotten.
posted by boots77 at 6:45 AM on December 19, 2008


Ah, yeah, I was assuming, with no real reason to do so, that you're a long enough/serious enough couple that something like that is legitimate. My bad.

Couples can be as serious as a car crash and still not want photos of themselves on their walls. Some people just aren't into that. The OP said her boyfriend was very particular about the way his place looks, so it might be safer if she avoids that one.
posted by katillathehun at 6:46 AM on December 19, 2008


Does he know you're going into the house? This very much depends on how long you've been together.
posted by Augenblick at 6:47 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Response by poster: We've been together for about a year; I'll be moving in after my lease ends in July, but for right now, it's just his place.
posted by chara at 6:50 AM on December 19, 2008


This is a really sweet idea. I think groceries and some basic cleaning supplies are not overbearing. Particularly if you're not replacing anything he already has. I would definitely bake his favorite cookies or brownies or something in his place the day he comes home and leave them for him. It's so nice to come home to a place that smells like fresh cookies; it'll boost the "homey" factor.
posted by purpletangerine at 6:52 AM on December 19, 2008


Best answer: Bake some cookies and stash them in the freezer.
Fix a couple of casseroles and freeze those too, or buy some pizzas to put in the freezer.
Get a few nice refrigerator magnets and put a note there telling him what's in the freezer.
Buy a few dishtowels for the kitchen.
Maybe a nice smelling candle.
A six pack of his favorite beer ... a pound of his favorite coffee.
I like gaspode's idea of a houseplant. An African violet is very inexpensive, easy to maintain and has cheery flowers.
Some milk, orange juice, bread, those kind of groceries, for when he gets home, so there's something to eat without having to run out to the store right away.
posted by Kangaroo at 6:52 AM on December 19, 2008


The cleaning supplies and trash can don't say homey to me, they say "clean your house, you slob". I'd go with a six pack of his preferred beverage and snacks.
posted by electroboy at 6:56 AM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'd avoid cleaning supplies because that could be read as a guilt trip--that you want him to keep the apartment to your standards, not his own. Food, especially his favorite food, is a great idea, though. And maybe program the DVD player if he hasn't gotten around to it?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:05 AM on December 19, 2008


Or, what electroboy said.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:05 AM on December 19, 2008


Change the sheets and make the bed. Nothing beats coming home to your own bed and finding it made with fresh sheets, bonus points for also finding your girlfriend there too ;-)
Some hot food and a movie prior to bed?
Its the little things...
posted by a3matrix at 7:16 AM on December 19, 2008


dont decorate, dont clean
posted by phritosan at 7:17 AM on December 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Best answer: Before you do anything, PLEASE make sure it's ok with your boyfriend for you to go in while he is away. It doesn't matter how much love there is; people can be incredibly territorial. I think what you want to do is very sweet, but you need to make sure that going into his space uninvited is OK.

If it turns out to be ok, a favorite food or beverage in the fridge would be nice. Or, a trail of photos with you in various states of undress leading to the bedroom where there's an extra special pic on the pillow. If my SO did that, well. That would just..whoa..yeah.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:17 AM on December 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: Oh, sorry forgot to mention, yes he's okay with me going in. He gave me the keys and told me to sleep over or work in the guest room if I needed quiet office space.
There's nothing to clean because it's a new place and he's still unpacking.
posted by chara at 7:21 AM on December 19, 2008


The cleaning supplies and trash can don't say homey to me, they say "clean your house, you slob".

See, when I read the first paragraph of the post I thought "hey, I wouldn't want someone to spam my home with tat like throw cushions and scented candles which met some girl's idea of 'homey' and that I couldn't get rid of because she'd notice and get upset".

So when I read the proposals like cleaning supplies I thought "Oh, actually that would be fine, everyone needs those".

I guess it depends on personality how these things will be taken.
posted by Mike1024 at 7:28 AM on December 19, 2008


There's nothing to clean because it's a new place and he's still unpacking.

Read this post before unpacking any of his stuff, if you're considering doing that. Some people don't like it.
posted by Mike1024 at 7:32 AM on December 19, 2008


"If it turns out to be ok, a favorite food or beverage in the fridge would be nice. Or, a trail of photos with you in various states of undress leading to the bedroom where there's an extra special pic on the pillow. If my SO did that, well. That would just..whoa..yeah.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:17 AM on December 19 [+] [!] "

Enter the parents, younger sibling, friend, weirdo that knows him that has always had a crush on you..... etc. :>O Not saying it's a bad idea but it could be a little awkward. I would call and ask him if it is ok if you clean, bring over whatever, or un-pack somethings. I do agree with the whole territorial comment. I got things that if my SO unpacked it might annoy me.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:45 AM on December 19, 2008


and he's still unpacking

Maybe finish taking stuff outta the boxes, but still live it in piles so he could put it where he wants. This way you've taken care of the clean of the boxes and what not, leaving him free to sort the stuff as he likes.

Also, a homemade coupon redeemable for the sexual act of his choice, left on the bed.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on December 19, 2008


Keep it simple: Food, beverages and clean sheets.
posted by Gor-ella at 8:17 AM on December 19, 2008


My first idea was a simple glass or vase with some nice, inexpensive flowers, sitting on his table when he returns. It doesn't require upkeep like a houseplant, and the color and softness of flowers (which exceeds that of most houseplants) is just...nice! Plus, guys don't get flowers that often, and they usually love it. And he won't have to feel guilty if it dies, and you can always give more another time. And you can put effort into making it pretty!

If you're feeling super-inspired, you might find some nice placemats that coordinate with the flowers, and make a nice table setting. I was rather surprised to find out how much my dude likes the "nice table" effect.

The cleaning supplies idea is a good one. For bonus girlfriend points, you might want to see what you can find in that realm on Cool Tools. Not everything there is hideously expensive, really! One note: avoid the "magic eraser"; it's just a very fine abrasive pad, and you're not supposed to use it on, for example, bathtubs, sink fixtures, or cars. Not sure what it's good for.
posted by amtho at 8:23 AM on December 19, 2008


My first thought was a really cool shower curtain, that matches his tastes...there are dozens of styles at Bed, Bath and Beyond for around $20.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 8:42 AM on December 19, 2008


Clean sheets.
Some cookies or his favorite snacks.
A six of his favorite beer (or a bottle of wine, or whatever his beverage of choice is)
oh, and big kiss when he gets home :)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 9:05 AM on December 19, 2008


I like the idea of baking some cookies/brownies in his place the day he comes back and leaving them out for him. Stock the fridge with some basic groceries, some beer, and some frozen meals like pizza or homemade casseroles so he'll have something to eat while he unpacks. Flowers are also a great idea, and making the bed with fresh sheets. You should be able to do all of those things with your $50 budget, and they're all sweet, romantic, home-y type things, much moreso than cleaning supplies. You're such a good girlfriend!
posted by booknerd at 9:15 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Booknerd is right on. I'd skip the flowers, but if he's anything like me, some baked goods, a six-pack, and a DVD would be perfect for coming home.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 9:17 AM on December 19, 2008


New set of bath towels. Yes, seriously. My wife has been slowly tossing out my college-era towels and replacing with towels with actual absorbent and soft fibers. It makes my morning shower that much better to dry off with something that doesn't feel like a paper towel from a gas station. And that's something he'll never get for himself, but will love the results.

Same vein: new or at least washed sheets and a made bed.
Six-pack
Clean the fridge and toss any "science experiments gone awry".
Something funny with no clear purpose or use - think, a hulu girl on the counter
Jerky, snacks, candy bars and a note to go with them
posted by fijiwriter at 10:11 AM on December 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


nthing beer and cooking something, also like the sheets and towels . . .

also, this might be too close to in the vein of a photo of the two of you, but for me it worked . . . i was crashing at my boyfriends place a lot and i usually left after he did. so one morning i made his bed, and was getting ready, put on some of my perfume. and then just for the hell of it a spritzed a little bit of it on one of his pillows. (don't overdo this!)

anyway that night when i talked to him he was like "my bed still smells like your perfume, i love it." i didn't tell him i did it on purpose :) anyway this is better for if you are NOT going to be there when he gets home. If you are going to be there, well, just be there naked. can't beat that.
posted by lblair at 10:36 AM on December 19, 2008


I use a small trash can in the kitchen of my own place. If someone had replaced mine when I moved in, I'd have gotten another little one, and been disappointed that they didn't ask me before replacing my stuff.

Now, if you know he wants a bigger can, by all means, grab one. Otherwise, rack your memory for any hints he's dropped.

I vote for cold adult beverages and snacks he likes.
posted by bilabial at 11:16 AM on December 19, 2008


If I were gone for two weeks I would love to come home and find the following:
- fresh fruit
- OJ
- soy milk
- coke
- beer
- a loaf of bread
- something for dinner that night so I don't have to go out again
- something for lunch the next day

I would also like to come home to find that the place had been aired out that AM and the heat turned on and maybe the sheets washed.

Do not unpack his stuff. I would not be happy to come home and find a girlfriend had been going through my stuff. Nor would I be happy to come home and find more stuff in the apartment than there was when I left.
posted by charlesv at 1:25 PM on December 19, 2008


maybe hang some curtains if you know what he would like (most guys don't have much of an opinion about curtains, and for that matter usually never ever get around to hanging any) curtains always make a place feel homier, even if they are on the plain generic side.
posted by meeshell at 8:13 PM on December 19, 2008


I pop up at my boyfriend's place (with or without him there) occasionally. He's sharing with some friends. What he seems to really appreciate are:

* Dishes cleaned, dried, put away (it's become something of a sore point in the house)
* Groceries, or food in general
* Clothes packed away

Is there some aspect of his unpacking that's pretty straightforward but is tedious? (e.g. clothes) If he lets you, you could get them done so that it reduces his burden.

Some starters for the house - cleaning supplies, kitchen, bathroom, etc - would be good too, so that he's all set up.

Maybe a small hamper of vouchers or gifts for fun stuff around the neighbourhood? Lists of contacts, shops, maps, and so on?
posted by divabat at 11:52 PM on December 19, 2008


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