Fruit baskets, bottle of wine, potted plants … these are the classic housewarming gifts for new homeowners. Then there are the other housewarming gifts that seem so outrageously bad, you have to wonder: Is the giver trying to scare you away? Whether you’re a new homeowner who wants to bond with other traumatized/puzzled gift recipients or someone who’s shopping for what not to get a new neighbor, check out this list of the worst housewarming gifts ever to cross someone’s threshold.

Used appliances

It’s one thing to regift a blender that’s still in its original packaging, but it’s quite another to try to offload a less-than-new appliance on your unsuspecting neighbors.

Jamie Novak—a professional organizer, no less—experienced this in her new home in New Jersey. “When my husband and I moved in, our next-door neighbors gave us a used bread machine—one complete with a bunch of dried-on, burnt crumbs still at the bottom,” she says.

The buttons were spattered with dough, and the box was for a completely different appliance. But wait—it gets worse! “This neighbor then proceeded to invite herself over for a fresh-baked loaf of bread!”


A new house pet

Who doesn’t love a puppy? Someone who didn’t ask for one, that’s who.

Gavin Keanne was taken aback when a furry little creature recently showed up on his door. He had just moved in with his girlfriend, and some friends decided to bring a puppy as a housewarming gift.

“Not only do his little paws scratch my new wooden floors, but he leaves hair all over the furniture,” he laments. “Plus we can hardly sleep because he cries so much outside our door.”

It’s the gift that keeps on giving! While Keanne hasn’t given up on their new houseguest quite yet, it’s definitely not a present he was glad to receive.


A reminder of a home’s murderous past

It’s nice to have reminders of a home’s past—its former life as a milk factory, or artifacts from a famous resident who once lived there. Then again, there are some skeletons that should best stay buried.

Ainsley Llewellyn, a homeowner in London, knows this well.

“Just as I moved into my new house, a friend sent me a framed newspaper cutting revealing that the last occupant—who lived in this home with his mother—had been convicted of murder a few months previously,” she says. “I’d already known this was the case when I bought the place, but I wasn’t about to hang this announcement on my wall!”


Homemade art

After Jacquie M. and her husband bought a house in Westport, CT, “We invited people over for an open house and received an apple pie, bottles of wine, and even a rose bush,” she recalls. But things got awkward when one guest bestowed a picture he had painted himself—of a car crashing into a crowd of people.

“It was bloody and awful to look at—it was so realistic,” she explains. To this day, it’s hanging behind her laundry room door, where she hopes few will notice it.


A dinner bell

This one is just plain strange. William Grant relocated to Manhattan a few years back and held a housewarming party to celebrate.

“A couple came and presented me with a really big dinner bell on a long wooden handle,” he says. The bell made such a loud clang that it could be heard up and down the block. “My new home was bigger than my old apartment, but there was still no way you could use this bell inside without the cat freaking out and disturbing everyone within earshot,” adds Grant.

The next day he promptly left it on the stoop outside with a “Free” sign. After all, you never know if someone in your neighborhood has a butler who’s hard of hearing.


Dead flowers

Pretty posies are perfectly lovely as a housewarming gift, but ones that are wilting should be tossed. Yet some neighbors will still pluck sad blooms, pop them in a vase, and try to pass them off as acceptable.

Liz Kelly, who recently relocated to the north shore of Massachusetts, was on the receiving end of a bunch of really old lilacs when she moved into her new home.

“I’m sure they were beautiful at some point,” she says, “but I could tell they had just been picked from my neighbor’s lilac bush and the blooms were way past their prime.”

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