How to Plan a Housewarming Party

Who (and who not) to invite is a big part of planning a housewarming party.
Who (and who not) to invite is a big part of planning a housewarming party.
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You've survived the stress of selecting the perfect house, packing everything you own into a moving truck and settling into your new home. Now you're ready to enjoy the truly fun part of moving -- showing off your new place! A housewarming party serves as the perfect opportunity to share your new digs with old friends, and it also gives you a chance to meet the neighbors and introduce yourself to the community. Housewarming parties are traditionally low-key and casual, and you can easily tailor the event to highlight the very best features of your new property.

Of course, attempting to plan even the simplest party when you're fresh off a major move will most likely leave you feeling too frazzled to have fun. Instead, give yourself some time to settle in and unpack before you shift into party planning mode. While some families may find themselves ready after just a few weeks, others may wish to wait up to six months after the move to give themselves time to deal with all the logistics of unpacking and getting acclimated to the new space.

The first step in planning a successful housewarming party is to decide what type of event you want to host. With a traditional party, you'll need to put together a standard guest list and send invitations. Expect party guests to stay for the majority of the event and to bring gifts. If you think you might be short on space or you simply want to meet as many people as possible, consider holding an open house instead. With an open house, guests will typically drop by for short periods and introduce themselves, but shouldn't be expected to bring gifts.

Whichever format you choose, you'll need invitations to let people know about your party. Given the casual nature of the average housewarming event, there's no need to send invitations far in advance. You can send them as late as a few days before the event or as early as three weeks prior. Stick to simple print-at-home cards to send to neighbors, or use online invitations to invite friends and family.

Housewarming Party Ideas

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.

Housewarming Party Games

When it comes to housewarming parties, the house itself should serve as the star of the show. That means skipping the standard party games in favor of home tours for your guests. The easiest way to accomplish this is by taking small groups through the house and showing off its best features. Granting each individual guest a personal tour as they arrive will keep you too busy to enjoy the party, while touring with large groups often means that people in the back of the crowd will feel left out. Feel free to show only the rooms you wish to share, and close the doors of those that you consider off limits. If your new home has a fabulous backyard or patio, be sure to include it in the tour as well.

In addition to home tours, try some classic icebreaker activities to help your family get to know the neighbors and vice versa. For starters, you can ask each guest describe their favorite neighborhood spot or feature. Those who aren't locals can participate by sharing special facts about their hometown or by describing their impression of your new community. Other variations of this game include discussions of favorite local customs or events, such as annual block parties or a weekly farmers market that you may want to check out.

Classic board games also work well at housewarming parties, particularly for people who can be introverted and uneasy about starting conversations with strangers. Games like Scrabble or Monopoly can help you create a relaxed, casual atmosphere where the conversation flows naturally. Frame the event as both a housewarming party and game night, and invite guests to bring along their favorite games.

If you expect children at your housewarming party or have kids of your own, be sure to plan plenty of games to keep the younger guests occupied so the adults are free to focus on conversation. If the weather is agreeable, stick to outdoor activities like a beanbag toss to minimize messes. If weather forces the party indoors, keep kids busy with arts and crafts or break out your favorite video game system.

Looking for even more inspiration to help you plan a memorable event? Check out the next page for more information about moving and hosting the perfect soiree.

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Sources

  • Emily Post Institute, the. "New Neighbors: Moving In." 2012. (March 02, 2012) http://www.emilypost.com/out-and-about/living-with-neighbors/868-new-neighbors
  • Emily Post Institute, the. "Should I Bring a Hostess Gift." 2012. (March 02, 2012) http://www.emilypost.com/social-life/hosts-and-guests/772-should-i-bring-a-hostess-gift
  • Palo Alto Medical Foundation. "Housewarming." 2012. (March 02, 2012) http://www.pamf.org/preteen/share/celebrations/Housewarming.html
  • University of Vermont. "Break the Ice." 2012. (March 02, 2012) http://www.uvm.edu/studentleaders/?Page=icebreakers.html&SM=resourcesubmenu.html