The history of housewarming parties may be a bit unclear, but the intent is not. For centuries, people have gathered to help friends and family celebrate the milestone of moving into a new place. Whether you light a fire for a literal “warming,” as was done in Medieval times, or have your crew over for pizza, the idea is to turn your new territory into a home. Times change, but hosting a housewarming party is still the best way to do that. Here’s how to break in the abode with a bash.
When to have a housewarming
When it comes to the timing of your housewarming party, remember that there’s no rush. A new home will still be new in a few weeks or even a couple of months. Everyone knows that unpacking takes time, and you don’t want guests coming over too quickly, only to trip over boxes in an already cluttered entryway. Settle in first, and get your things in order—at least in the kitchen and living room. Bedrooms can still be in progress; simply shut the doors.
After you’ve nailed down a date to display the new digs, notify attendees by way of classic cards or casual flyers. Invitations set the tone for any event, and since housewarmings are pretty informal, the invites can be, too.
Plan some housewarming activities
No one will arrive expecting to be entertained, but still, a housewarming party is a rather abstract act. Give it concrete meaning with one of these no-fuss things to do.
Give a grand tour: Remember why you’re all there in the first place—to show off the space. Start by leading everyone around. Share all the things you love about the house and the plans you have for your future in it. Finish the tour with a toast in your preferred room; Champagne is always a good idea.
Host open house-style: Or, keep it a little more low-key and ask friends and family to drop in over several hours. Provide a start and end time and allow them to come and go as they please. By staggering the arrival in this way, you’ll have more one-on-one time with each guest and (theoretically) less stress. Serve light bites, but be prepared for influxes and lulls at different points as people linger and leave.
Heat things up. If you’re lucky enough to have an indoor fireplace or a fire pit outside, start a crackling fire as a nod to that notion. You can also light candles or burn sage, which some believe cleanses negative energy—pretty fitting for a housewarming.
Make a guest list
If you’re new to the neighborhood and possibly even the city, it can be tricky to know who to invite to your housewarming, but relatives and pals in the area are a given.
It’s also nice (and wise) to extend the gesture to your new neighbors. Ask them in person when you see them out and about. It’s also a good opportunity to get to know them and grab their contact info; you never know when you’ll need to reach out in the future.
Invitation wording: Whether a dinner party or a potluck, the wording of the invites should reflect the fete. We’d recommend keeping it casual but including the essentials. Clearly state your new address, specify a day and time, and communicate what kind of vibe to expect at the party.
What to do at a housewarming party
We’d say a housewarming is theme enough, but if you feel like giving the celebration a subject, opt for something simple—and as always, keep the audience in mind.
For friends: If your guest list is made up of your best mates, it’s okay to go ultra casual, such as with an unpacking party. It’s exactly what it sounds like: Close friends help you unpack, fueled by a feast of pizza and wine, of course. A recent move is the perfect time for a potluck, too. Make that the theme, and have your pals jot down their recipes on notecards to give your new kitchen a starter cookbook of sorts.
For neighbors: The inclusion of new acquaintances calls for a slightly more elevated event. Think an open house, garden hangs, or a BBQ. In lieu of a registry, you could also call it a “Stock the Bar” party—and then work your way through the bottles they bring by hosting even more get-togethers.
Pick (simple) party decorations
Honestly, we think the best housewarming party decor is none at all. This soiree is supposed to be all about the house itself, so let it shine and remember that less is more. Besides, you’ll be a little busy, what with moving and unpacking and all. Prioritize prep over decor with these simple suggestions.
Go green: It’s amazing what a bit of greenery can do for a space. Use the party as an excuse to stock up on plants for the new place. Monstera, fiddle-leaf fig trees, and dracaena are all easy to care for and make a serious statement. If your thumb is the opposite of green, pick up cut flowers and arrange them in the main rooms. Select some with welcoming aromas such as eucalyptus and lavender.
Hang some frames: Instead of party decor, check actual home decor off your lengthy to-do list. Start hanging photos and art, but don’t panic if you don’t get it all done. One gallery wall is fine; no need to unveil every print and picture you own.
Stock up on the essentials. There’s nothing worse than running out of toilet paper mid-party or realizing post-spill that your paper towels are packed away in a box somewhere. Make sure important paper products and other household items like trash bags are well-stocked and within reach.
Make food the focal point. Chatting and cheers-ing can work up an appetite. Incorporate appetizers into the decor. Clear off the coffee table and fill it with an elaborate cheese and charcuterie spread, or place a tiered cake on the kitchen table, each with napkins on the side. Talk about a tasty centerpiece!
Put together a menu
The best food and drinks for a housewarming party are easy to prepare as well as eat. Remember, this isn’t a dinner party; you’ll have plenty of opportunities to host those in your new crib as well.
Order in: There is no shame in scheduling a delivery. In fact, it can be an excellent way to highlight a new neighborhood favorite, whether pizza or BBQ.
Room-temp food: Regardless of if it’s homemade or takeout, the cuisine should be able to be kept cool. That means cheese boards or veggie platters that double as decor.
Batch up cocktails: You’ll be too busy mixing with guests to mix up their drinks as well. Prepare big-batch cocktails served in pitchers or dispensers. Or, let everyone help themselves to a drink station stocked with wine and beer and lemonade and iced tea. Be sure to place the bar strategically, as, without fail, revelers end up revolving around it.
Know the etiquette
Rent or own: Warm homes aren’t just for those with mortgages. Renters can host a housewarming party in a new unit—consider the scale, and be realistic about how many guests you can squeeze into the square footage. An open house, with family arriving at one time and friends trickling in throughout the day, is a great option.
It’s also perfectly acceptable for homeowners who have recently remodeled or renovated to throw themselves a soiree in their new and improved space. Bonus: Having an event on the calendar tends to provide a push to complete final projects.
Registry: Moving may have shed light on just how much stuff you have accumulated, but if experience tells us anything, it’s that guests like to give gifts. The easiest way to do this is to opt for a theme that has a gift idea baked in, such as Stock the Bar. Alternately compile a registry of gift ideas in a range of prices on your favorite store’s site. Of course, presents are not a prerequisite for a proper housewarming party, but it’s easy to add registry information––and people will appreciate having a list.
House rules: With a new home comes a new opportunity to lay down some ground rules—literally. Decide if you’re a “shoes-on” or “shoes-off” household, and stick with it. If “off,” you’ll need a designated spot for kicks right near the entrance that’s visible to newcomers. If they miss it, hopefully, they’ll get the hint when they see you and the rest of the guests traipsing around in socks.
“Welcome to the Party” by Paperless Post. “Welcome Mat” by kate spade new york. “Home Goods” by Rifle Paper Co.
Congratulations on your new digs. Find the right invitation to summon your friends and new neighbors. Now that you’re a host with the most try your hand at a summer dinner party, winter party ideas, or super casual get togethers.