Any successful housewarming party should include a combination of old friends and new neighbors. Having familiar people around will help increase your comfort level and will serve as a bridge of sorts between your old home and your new one. Inviting the neighbors gives you a way to break the ice and puts you on the path towards becoming a part of the community.
Avoid inviting acquaintances or work friends, as a housewarming party is best left to close friends and new neighbors. Having extra people there that you don't know very well will only limit the amount of time you can spend introducing and acclimating yourself to members of your new community and could even lead to some awkward situations. If you're unsure whether to invite someone, consider if you'd expect (and would appreciate) an invitation to their housewarming if the roles were reversed. If not, then you should nix them from your list of prospective attendees.
Once you've decided on the guest list, it's time to choose a theme. When it comes to housewarming parties, simple and casual themes reign supreme. Think backyard barbecues, beach-themed bashes or get-togethers based around regional or seasonal themes. If you prefer something slightly more formal, try a sit-down brunch or a wine tasting event where guests can raise a toast to your new home.
To get the most out of your housewarming party, you need to be free to mingle with guests and get to know the neighbors. That means sticking to simple menus based around finger foods and light snacks prepared ahead of time and served buffet-style. A backyard barbecue is an exception to this rule, because guests are more likely to chat as you grill than they are to seek you out while you're cooking in the kitchen.
Then there's the matter of gifts. While most etiquette experts agree that hosts shouldn't register for housewarming presents, it's unlikely that guests will come empty-handed. Expect to receive items you can use around the house, such as houseplants or kitchenware. Other popular housewarming gifts include wine, cooked food and even gift cards to local home improvement or department stores.
Now that you've planned the perfect party and sent invitations, read on to discover how to keep guests entertained during the event.