You’ve just moved into your first real home, where there are no worries about having a houseful of roommates or hand-me-down furniture. You’re eager to show your friends and family how adult you’ve become. One of the best ways to share your excitement for your new grown-up life is to host a killer housewarming party.
A housewarming party is a celebration of one of life’s major accomplishments, and it can convey many things, including a glimpse into your personal decorating style and how you like to make others comfortable in your home. Some like to throw formal dinner parties or even themed parties, especially around a specific holiday. Informal open houses are a personal favorite, as this kind of party allows your guests to come and go as they wish.
Once you’ve settled in, start thinking about what type of party you’d like to have, when you’d like to have it, and which friends you want to invite. Remember to add some new people into the mix, too. This is a great time to meet your new neighbors.
For an informal housewarming, remember the old keep it simple adage. Even if you choose a theme, keep it recognizable and relatable, like a barbecue, Christmas open house, or “stock the bar” party.
Here are the steps and a basic timeline for throwing your shindig:
1. Decide on a theme or level of formality. Are you going to have a dinner party, where everyone is seated? Or do you want to have a casual drop-in event—or something in between? Decide what type of get-together you’d like to have first. Make sure, especially if it’s a formal party, you have the space to accommodate everyone you plan to include on your guest list. If not, trim the list or change to a less formal event.
2. Choose a date and guest list. Try to plan a few weeks in advance, so your guests will have time to arrange sitters, transportation, or even overnight sleeping arrangements if they’re coming from out of town. The more formal the event, the smaller the guest list should be. That is one of the benefits of a drop-in style open house; even if someone unexpected shows up, it won’t ruin your plans for the other guests—just pull out another appetizer, and you’re set.
3. Send invites. You can send invitations by email or, if you want to go a little traditional—especially for a more formal event—by regular mail. Make sure you include all of the pertinent information: when, where (including directions to your new home), party theme (barbecue, dinner, casual), time, RSVP, etc. If you’re expecting a guest to bring something, like for a potluck or stock the bar party, state it in the invitation. But this isn’t the time to ask for gifts, tell where you’ve registered, or hint at what you need. Whether you send invitations via mail or email, plan to follow up with a personal invite over the phone or email. If a guest asks what you need or want for your new home, that is a great time to let them know.
4. Plan your menu. Food doesn’t have to be elaborate, but be sure to plan enough for all your guests. Plan beverages too; even with a stock the bar party, you’ll still need to provide barware and glasses, ice and mixers, as well as some non-alcoholic beverages. If you’re planning a cold weather party, consider a coffee or tea bar, where guests can make their own warm beverages. Whatever you plan for your menu, try to include items that can be made in advance. You don’t want to spend all your time in the kitchen the day of your event.
5. Buy non-perishables. A couple of weeks before your party, buy all paper goods, disposable items, and foods and beverages that won’t spoil. Borrow serving pieces you might need, and pull out any decorations like candles and lighting. Take inventory of what needs to be accomplished before the party: boxes emptied and stashed, cleaning chores, little DIY projects that need to be completed. Don’t start any project that may not be finished before your big day.
6. Do final party prep. A week before your party, plan your final grocery list and make any foods that can be frozen for a few days. Give your home a thorough cleaning, so you will only need a light dusting and vacuum job the day of the event. Borrow some chairs for seating, if necessary. Plan what you’ll wear and make sure it’s clean and pressed. DO NOT WEAR UNTIL THE PARTY.
7. Complete last-minute tasks. Two days before the housewarming, make a final grocery run and pick up everything you still need to purchase or borrow. Get any decorations or serving ware set up and make sure everything is clean and in good repair. Set up your bar/beverage station, set unopened packaged foods (that won’t spoil) where they will be served, and start cooking all foods that can keep for a couple of days.
8. Decide on a place to put guests’ things (and gifts). Find a place to put your guests’ coats and bags where they’ll be available but not piled on a chair. Remember, your guests will want a quick tour of your home, so make sure each room is up to viewing. Also, find a place to put any gifts you receive (you’ll open them later, not at the party) that is out of the way.
9. Day of the party. Finish any cleaning chores and cook any last-minute recipes. It’s nice to enlist a friend or relative to help with some of the tasks. Make sure all the trash is emptied, and there are places for people to deposit their used plates and other disposables. About an hour or two before the party, make sure everything is set up, food and paper goods are out, and the party is ready to go. Then get yourself prepared for your guests to arrive.
For the party, try to greet each arrival and welcome them into your home. Show them around quickly, point out where the food and beverages are, and greet your next arrivals. You should introduce them to others already at the party.
If you’re having a lot of people at your housewarming, you might offer to pay a teen friend or relative to help keep things tidy during your event—pick up and empty trash, keep foods restocked, etc. If you are serving mixed drinks, you could have a friend act as bartender for the evening.
The most important thing is to enjoy your new home, your guests, and yourself.
Greta Brinkley is an interior design aficionado and former content writer for HomLuv.com