During this pandemic, moving, home sales, and parties are all somewhat stalled, but it won’t last forever. This blog post was collaboratively written in the knowledge that better times are coming. My sincerest wish for them to come to you soon.
My collaborators: SG lives just outside of DC, KB lives in Brooklyn, EB lives in MD.
There is a lot on the internet about planning a housewarming party. I researched this topic and culled down what seemed to be the most popular ideas.
You would be surprised by how often themes came up, I was. I don’t do themes, neither should you. Here is the practical stuff I gleaned from the experts plus the input from a few young professionals whose opinions I regard highly, my daughters.
You might not feel like you have the time to throw a party. Housewarming parties have been a longstanding tradition and are kinda expected. A housewarming is a perfect opportunity to show off your new home to the most important people in your life. And it’s often the best way to meet your neighbors. KB: Or don’t meet your neighbors. I’d feel pressure to entertain strangers, as opposed to socializing with the people I know and love. So I always skip that step. May be why I never know them….EB: Agreed! I stress enough about having the people I know and love over to also worry about making a good first impression on other people.
Here are obvious first steps for throwing a housewarming party.
- Make your guest list. This list should include family and old friends, new neighbors, and even friends of friends.
- Find a date and time. Don’t stress it, pick a date and time that works for you and your family. Keep the weather in mind if you want the party to be mostly outside.
- Housewarming party theme. I don’t do themes. KB: Here’s my theme: Me. The food and drink are things I like. No need to get more complicated than that. SG: I like themes. But the theme of a housewarming party is ‘come see my new house!’ EB: agree to both! Unless your housewarming coincides with a Holiday. Like a Christmas party when you move in December etc KB: Acceptable caveat.
- Wait a few weeks. Wait until your home is in reasonable shape (furniture in place, boxes unpacked) and you’ve settled in. KB: or a few months…
- Invites: Email invitations a few weeks ahead. No need to get fancy with invites, and emailing them is quick and easy. Facebook is easy if you know everyone uses it. (Most people have an account but do they really use it or check it often?) Ask guests to RSVP so you can plan the food and drink. Give good directions! SG: Agree that the email invite is always easiest. If you’re into paper goods, it’d be fun to send out a moving announcement/party invite. Then your family and friends have your new address.
- Organize it as an open house if space is an issue. If your guest list is larger than your home, throw an open house, which means people can drop in anytime during a span of several hours. Pick hours you’re comfortable with. KB: Open house style always works great! There’s no pressure on people to arrive by a certain time, and everyone can leave when they’re ready with no judgement. SG: Agreed.
- Invite your new neighbors. You can post on the neighborhood website or drop off a card in their mailboxes with a short introduction. Often it is easier to stagger invite times for new neighbors and family. KB: I approve skipping this step. EB: Same here.
- Give it a theme. I don’t do themes. SG: Fresh flowers go a long way for decor. Just from the grocery store. Keep it simple – a big bunch of one type of flower always looks chic.
- Gift registry. I don’t do registries either. KB: Registries are tacky. Don’t pressure people into getting you a gift. SG: I had a friend who was invited to a housewarming party where the host registered for new doors. I never forgot it. KB: Show them the door!
- Set up a gift table. Even though you told your guest to not buy something, they will anyway. SG: I’d eliminate this #7. People are going to come with wine or flowers or something like that. Don’t have a table. EB: No table, but we know it will happen and be prepared to do something with those things.
- Set up a bar area. Keep it away from the front door but do make it part of the flow of the party and house. Stock it with the usual bar stuff and add your signature drink. Bourbon, please. SG: Signature drink is always fun! Make it something people can self-serve, not something you’ll have to make to order. A punch or something that can be made in a pitcher. EB: Obviously there should be a well stocked bar!
- Simple food. Platters you can heat up and buy from your local deli. Bite-sized foods that can be kept at room temperature, like deviled eggs, sandwiches, pre-cut fruit, cheese and cookie platters. Grilling outside is OK as long as it doesn’t become a job and keep you away from the party. KB: Cheese plates are mandatory at all parties. SG: Expert tip: Take the food off the plastic platters from the deli and put them on your own serving dishes. Takes no time and looks custom. EB: hummus, chips and dips.
- Use paper products. Use paper plates made from recyclable materials; they’re sturdy and totally appropriate for such a casual event.
- Party Central. You should have the main party spot off from where the food and drinks are served.
- Plan a tour. Or let guests wander. KB: I would be intimidated by a house that warrants a tour. EB: Let them wander.
- Lights. Small strings of white lights always feel like a classy touch. EB: Natural light goes a long way if it’s during the day. Open the windows and blinds!
- Games. If the party is outside, cornhole is popular, and nostalgic choices would be badminton or croquet, all easy on the yard. If the party is inside, set up a board game area that invites your guests to sit and play. A scavenger hunt in the new house is fun if you’re very brave. SG: I like these ideas! Also, maybe an area with kids activities if there will be kids. Bubbles and chalk are cheap and easy for outside. Coloring sheets, stickers, kids scavenger hunt inside. If this is a milestone like it’s your first house, maybe have something for your guests to sign so you can remember the event like a guest book, photo frame or canvas.
- Music. Let your guests get a glimpse of who you aspire to be through your music choices. KB: Selecting music can be weirdly anxiety-inducing (just me?). Pick a Spotify station and be done with it. SG: KB, you have a lot of anxiety about parties… KB: You are not wrong. EB: Spotify or Pandora is easiest!
- DIY Photo Booth. You’ll need a backdrop (sheet, or crazy/decorative shower curtain), props (you can buy wholesale online for a minimal cost), table for the props. Use a corner in your backyard or home and set up your DIY photo booth. Instead of providing them with a camera, have everyone take photos on their cell phones. They’ll share on social using your hashtag, (Ex: #smithshousewarming), so you can look back on everyone’s photo booth photos the next day. KB: Tip: make sure you check the hashtag first to make sure it’s not already a popular one. SG: Fun! Also, could get a little digital printer to print out photos for guests to take home as a fun favor.
- Tastings. Set up a wine tasting area if you have something new or special to offer. Even better is a bourbon or tequila tasting. Buy craft beer at a local brewery and set up flights for your guests to try. EB: Obviously someone prefers bourbon!
Remember to relax and enjoy yourself. Welcome your old friends, make new friends, and celebrate with your family.