Starting Up Your First Home

Print Friendly
household items for newly married or graduates

Here are some things people need when they’re leaving home and setting up housekeeping for the first time. These will help you get started or help you choose gifts for someone you know.

Many of us get so used to having everything where we need it that we don’t give these things a second thought. From the rubber bands in our junk drawer to the plunger for the toilet, anyone who has had a home for a while has it, but someone in their first home may not think of these things until they desperately need them.

These are some basics to consider that would make great gifts for newlyweds or graduates moving into their own homes.




Hot plate
Electric skillet
Electric hand mixer
Pots and pans
Dishes/serving dishes
Kitchen utensils (knives, slotted spoon, scissors)
Mixing bowls
Measuring spoons/cups
Cookie sheet, muffin tin, 9×13 pan
Cutting board
Canister Set
Tea kettle


Sheet Set
Mattress cover
Bath towels/washcloths
Kitchen towels, dishrags, hot pan holders
Shower curtain
Placemats/table cloths
Laundry hamper
Laundry basket

Miscellaneous and sometimes forgotten household items:

Fill plastic drawer divider with:

Rubber bands
Paper clips
Cellophane tape

For A Desk


Small Tool Kit, including:

Pliers – needle nose and regular
Screw drivers – Phillips and flat head
Utility Knife
A variety of different screws and nails
Masking tape
Duct tape
String, twine and wire

Odds and Ends

Tool kit for car
First aid supplies
Sewing kit
Light bulbs
Bucket filled with basic cleaning supplies
Trash can
First aid book
Cookbook (I happen to know a good one —  Dining on a Dime :):)
Handyman or home repair book

For a home but not for an apartment:

Basic gardening tools

Hand tools
Snow shovel


Photo By: Gabriel Saldana


  1. Jonas in Sweden says

    Ask every friend if they have anything over to give, go to funitureshops to look for free funiture, they offen take the old thing when they deliver the new goods. Take a “fattv” instead for flattv,offen free if you take this heave thing away. To wait you can get everything for free,people offen throw almost new thing in the wasteroom. In 1-2 year you have it all.( if you dont have a whife….then everything must be new and expensive…..) Sorry for my english.

  2. says

    before you go out and stock your kitchen utensils think about things and make a list.
    if you live in a tiny apt. where you can only comfortably sit 4 people for a meal do you really need that beautiful dish set for 10?
    if you fry more than you do other things don’t buy the expensive set of pots and pans. Buy them separately and save on clutter and money.
    After 36 years of marriage I am down to 4 different size frying pans 1 large wok and 2 4 qt. saucepans and 1 large soup pot. I have run the gammit on expensive and cheap sets kept the things I used a lot and replaces the ones I didn’t. Stainless steel is best more expensive but it lasts for years. I am still using a few that I got when we first got married.
    One year my husband bought me the big Osterizer mixer with all the gadgets. 30 years later I still basically use it for the meat grinder. For whipping potatoes and cakes I like my cheap little $10 hand mixer. Clutter and waste most of the time for the Osterizer. It is too heavy for me to be lifting it in and out of the cupboard.
    One idea when outfitting your kitchen is to take your mother with you. She knows how you cook and she knows what you have grown up with. Until you are more confident in your new lifestyle stick with what you know how to use.
    If you have just gotten married you will have all sorts of new appliances. Make sure you read the manual to find out how to clean and operate them.
    I had a George Forman grill given to me by my son and DIL. 2 years after using it and dreading cleaning it because it was hard to do It fell apart one night. Well it didn’t fall apart really the griddle part came off. It always did this just not for me. They came off for cleaning in the dish washer. Now I use it at least once a week. I love it. But I didn’t read the manual because after so many years I figured I knew how to use it even though I never had one before.
    If you use a microwave to heat veg. and water don’t spend mega bucks on one that will do everything what set the table. Buy a basic one and use it comfortably.
    live with the basics until you are comfortable with the extras.

  3. Judith in NY says

    It’s the “stupid” things that get forgotten—I for instance could not live without “slicer knives”. The cheap razor knives—I use ’em for getting packages open, box board and plastic bags; cutting packing tape–I ship a lot of stuff—slicing off the wrappers on recyclable cans; cutting plastic bottles for funnels or other uses; cutting meat wrapping open—who wants to try and get that off with their hands? Ditto whole chicken and turkey wrappings, a “y” shape from front to back and peel off over the sink so you can rinse the bird and the wrapping.

    A “grabber” stick—esp for anyone with a height “issue” or anyone with a handicap–the FEATHERLITE is the one I have found to be the best. Getting things off a shelf or retreiving things off the floor–priceless! Also useful to hold a swiffer-type cloth for cleaning lamp shades, ceiling fixtures, ceilings, window shades, ceiling fans, and other hard to reach narrow areas.

    The small pull along vacuums—they are not expensive and are extremely versatile—if you can find two (one for upstairs and one for the main floor) you will be sooo happy to have them handy at a moments notice. Great for smooth floors and curtains and area rugs as well as not too heavily dirty carpeting. Some do a better job on pet hair with the nozzle part OFF.

    Carbon steel kitchen knives—harder to find but worth it; an investment you will have for your whole life if taken care of and sharpened often. I have ones I use EVERYDAY that have been in use for 35 years that are still razor sharp and hold the edge because I do NOT soak ’em or put them in the diswasher and wipe or quickly rinse them off and DRY them every time. And I give ’em a few swipes with the sharpening steel a few times a week. You probably don’t “need” the full sets that come in the pretty slanty b locks but a good heavy chefs knife that fits YOUR hand–not Emerils hand!–and a utility/sandwich knife (7-8″) and a parer or two and if you do a lot of roasts etc a “ham or meat” slicer will do you proud. Add a good cleaver and learn HOW to use it—(a Chinese cook book can show you amazing uses for this tool) and you can do almost anything at home that you can do in a commercial kitchen.

    Kitchen shears, a microplane, a CAST IRON skillet, a HEAVY cutting board—nothing is more frustrating than a cutting board that is wandering around as you are slicing and dicing!; glass measuring cups; a toilet paper tower; nesting glass mixing bowls that can double as salad or soup or punch or practicaly anything bowls—these are some things no one should be without and that make great gifts.

  4. Birdie says

    I left home with a suite case. I had a wonderful opportunity to start out at my brother’s home for a short while when I started in the big world. Fortunately I was able to rent a room with access to kitchen gear in the next two places as well. I had a box of kitchen things when I left home and slowly purchased things when I continued on in life.

  5. says

    Great ideas. I am the opposite of “grandma,” I keep buying used Oster Kitchen Centers for spare parts. That is the one item I keep on my counter, it is to heavy to carry/move around though. I would recomend a cookbook for two as really important. I found it really difficult to make small amounts when I first married after cooking for a large family growing up. There are a number of good ones available, if only to give you an idea of how much ingredience to use in a given food, then tweek it to taste.

  6. Maggie says

    One of the items we use more than anything else is cereal bowls. My old set of dishes had the perfect size bowl for cereal, ice cream, soup, etc. and when we got rid of the rest of the set, we kept the bowls. My new set of dishes, the bowls are huge and we (just the two of us) use them for serving bowls. I suggest finding a set in the open stock (which I may soon look to do since the ones I have are beginning to chip and I’m afraid they will break)which would hold the amount you would eat in a serving and get them. If you get a neutral color, they will go with anything else you have.

  7. Maggie says

    Oh, don’t forget. The bowls should be freezer, microwave and dishwasher safe (both top and bottom shelves) so you can use them in multiple ways and don’t have to be extra careful with them.

  8. Diana says

    A corkscrew!! Many times when I have moved, all I want to do is enjoy a nice glass of wine at the end of the day. And without fail, I never have a corkscrew available :)

  9. ValarieS says

    I would suggest a colander, because pasta is hard to drain without it. Several good spatulas so as to clean out a pan or the last bit in a jar or can. Pyrex bowls with lids – several sizes to store leftovers or for taking lunch to work. I really need a wire whip or two – they make all the difference in some preparations.

  10. grizzly bear mom says

    Jonas your message comes through loud and clear! I wish that I wrote Swedish as well as you wrote English.

    I would try to find interchangeable items. A cast iron frying pan fries chicken, bakes cornbread, stews spaghetti sauce, etc and lasts 80 yeas. A WIRE drain, not colander, drains pasta and tiny seeds too. A wire wisk stires soups and beats any other stirer in incorporating “flours” into sauces.

    Check out what people will give you first, Heck, if you were my neighbor I would go search out what I no longer need and just give it to you! Then the dollar store to see what you can find cheap. Only then, spend actual money. My mom still have the original stainless steel measuring cups form her wedding 39 years ago!

    How about ordering your mom’s cookbook even if used? That way you will have the recipes from all your old favorites?

    I’m trying to do this for my nephew now who recently moved to Equador!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 + = eight

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>