Moving is the worst. Packing is hell. But finally settling into a new place and throwing a housewarming party—that’s the sweet reward.
Not all housewarming parties are created equally, though. You’re celebrating your new house, while also bringing various parts of your social circle together—friends, family, neighbors, ex-lovers, ex-lovers’ dogs…
But if you don’t plan properly, your housewarming party could turn out too crowded, too boring, or—the worst of all—just plain tacky.
Everyone’s taste is different, of course, but let’s run through our thoughts on how to throw a housewarming party to remember.
Here’s what we’ll discuss:
- Who to invite? How many people?
- Housewarming party ideas
- Housewarming food ideas
- Tips on doing it potluck-style
- Booze at your housewarming
- Guest books
- Housewarming party favors
- Tacky things to never do at your housewarming
Who to invite? How many people?
You’re popular. Everyone loves you. Of course they do! So how can you whittle down a guest list that’s not unwieldy?
- Start with your inner circle, including your closest friends, family members, and their significant others. These people have likely been involved in your move (hey, maybe they even helped rent a U-Haul, and you owe them).
- Explore outside your immediate comfort zone. Inviting new neighbors—even ones you don’t know well, or at all—can help kickstart friendships and create a sense of community.
- Consider including old friends, especially if you’re moving back to your home town or an area you’re familiar with. Sure, it could be awkward to see Bill from sophomore year Chemistry again, but it could also be a fun (and low-stakes) opportunity to catch up.
- Add in simpatico coworkers, or any social groups or clubs you might be part of. But be wary of any potential frictions—you might not want members of your Marxist Bowling League mingling with your colleagues at that wealth-management startup.
Keep in mind that not everyone will be able to attend, and it’s doubtful you’ll have a 100% RSVP rate. If your house can comfortably fit 20 people, it’s wise to invite slightly more than that number to account for potential declines or last-minute cancellations. Try to invite around 25 to 30 people.
Also make it clear whether or not kids are welcome at your housewarming party. If they are, plan accordingly. “Always have a special room for them, with activities and toys to entertain themselves,” counsels Alexandrea Mohamed, Lemonade’s Office Ops Specialist. “It makes it much easier for the parents and other guests to enjoy the party.”
Housewarming party ideas
Sure, the theme of your housewarming party can simply be “a bunch of people I know come over and hang out while nibbling on food.” But why not embrace your creative impulses and plan something a bit more interactive?
Here are some ideas, feel free to steal ‘em. You can play it straight, or put an ironic spin on things (to show you’re the type of cool cat who doesn’t really do themed parties).
Why save over-the-top dress-up for Halloween? Pick a specific movie, era, or location, the weirder the better. Encourage everyone to dress to the theme. Create a playlist that complements the vibe. Take plenty of pictures of your friends that you can use as blackmail at a later date.
DIY wine tasting
Oh, what’s that? You’re fancy? Well then, break out the vino and prepare to elevate the ambience. Ask everyone to bring a bottle of their favorite wine—preferably nothing with a cartoon animal on the label—and provide a variety of cheeses, fruits, and crackers for pairing.
Create a tasting scorecard for guests to rate each vintage, or to jot down their sage observations (“tastes like wine, with undertones of more wine”).
Room-to-room scavenger hunt
You had a lot of fun playing scavenger hunt when you were a kid—and you probably weren’t even drunk back then! Hide small items or notes throughout the house, and provide your guests with a list of clues to find them. 50% of your guests may be annoyed at first, but they’ll come around.
Potluck dinner party
Ask guests to bring a dish to share, and supply the basics like plates, utensils, and drinks. To make it more interesting, set a theme for the dishes, like “Comfort Food,” or “Stuff That People Eat In 1950s Noir Movies.” We’ve got more tips on potluck etiquette below.
None of those ideas hitting?
Here are some other thought starters to get your housewarming juices flowing.
- Arts & crafts corner: Buy cheap 8 x 10 inch canvases and art making supplies, and ask your guests to create masterpieces to decorate your bare walls.
- DIY photo booth: Decorate a corner of your space, or put together a makeshift backdrop. Just make sure everyone uses your hashtag, #bestfrickenhousewarmingpartyever.
- Build-your-own-pizza station: Crusts, topping, sauces = hands-on fun.
- BYOBG (Bring Your Own Board Game)
- Ugly sweater party: It’s a classic for a reason.
Housewarming food ideas
Face it: Your friends are here to gawk at your new place, guess how much your rent is, and eat your food. So make sure the food is memorable.
When you’re collecting RSVPs, ask for any allergies or dietary restrictions to keep in mind.
You can’t go wrong with any of the following finger foods:
- Cheese and charcuterie board: Who can say no to cheeses, cured meats, crackers, nuts, olives, and fruits? Well, vegans, probably. But still: Yum.
- Caprese skewers: Cherry tomatoes + mozzarella balls + basil leaves + balsamic glaze.
- Spinach and artichoke dip: Whip up a quick spinach and artichoke dip with cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, grated cheese, and canned or frozen spinach and artichokes. Serve it warm with crusty bread, crackers, or tortilla chips.
- Mini sandwiches: Like regular sandwiches, but adorbs.
- Veggie platter with hummus: Colorful and healthful.
- Bruschetta: Toast slices of baguette and top them with a mixture of diced tomatoes, minced garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
- Fruit kabobs: Pop a variety of fruits, such as strawberries, grapes, pineapple, and melon, onto wooden skewers for a refreshing and healthy treat. Serve with yogurt dip for a bit of zip.
- Stuffed mini peppers: Fill mini bell peppers with a mixture of cream cheese, shredded cheese, and your choice of seasoning. Bake until the peppers are tender.
- Guacamole and salsa: Just watch out for double-dippers. The pandemic and all.
- S’mores: Do we even need to explain?
If it’s a brunch housewarming..
- Mini quiches: Make ‘em with different fillings, such as spinach and feta, ham and cheese, or mushroom and onion.
- Yogurt parfait bar: Provide the ‘gurt plus a selection of fresh fruits, granola, nuts, and honey or maple syrup.
- Assorted pastries: Raid your local coffee shop in the early AM and bring back their finest croissants, scones, and muffins.
So you want to potluck?
A potluck lets your guests wax creative and show off their culinary skill. It’s also a hell of a lot easier for you, the host, since they’ll be doing the cooking.
If you’re planning a potluck, here’s three tips to share with your guests so things don’t get repetitive, or messy.
- Coordinate: Either assign certain types of dishes, or make sure you know what things people are planning to bring. This way you won’t end up with a table that’s 80% side dishes and 20% desserts.
- Mind dietary restrictions: Be aware of any dietary restrictions or allergies among the attendees. If possible, prepare a dish that accommodates those needs or, at the very least, clearly label your dish if it contains common allergens, such as nuts or gluten. And maybe just don’t make that Peanut Butter Gluten Loaf with Soy Glaze.
- Use a dish that won’t explode in the car: Choose a dish that is easy to transport and can be served at room temperature, or one that can be quickly reheated upon arrival. Make sure your dish is in a secure, spill-proof container.
Booze at your potluck
First, a few things ton consider.
- Will your housewarming will be BYOB, or a mix of BYOB and “the host provides”?
- Will you stick to wine and beer, or bring hard liquor into the mix (with all the potential and literal headaches that might involve)?
- Serve-yourself bar, or hire a professional for the night?
On that last point: Whether to have a serve-yourself bar at your housewarming party depends on your personal preferences, your guests, and the overall atmosphere you want to create.
The benefits of serve-yourself:
- It’s informal and relaxed, plus guests can help themselves whenever they want.
- Definitely cheaper than hiring a professional bartender for the night.
- Your guests can mix their own drinks and experiment. Plus they’ll get to mingle with other strangers who are doing the same thing. Maybe they’ll fall in love! And in 12 months you’ll be attending their housewarming party.
And the downsides:
- A free-for-all bar means That One Guy might get way too drunk and fall asleep in your closet.
- Things can get messy, quick (in terms of spills).
- Without a dedicated bartender, you’ll probably spend a good amount of time making sure everything is stocked and running smoothly.
Housewarming guest books
Is it corny to have a little book where your guests can write their best wishes and advice for your new place? Yes.
Is it also sweet, and something you’ll probably enjoy looking at years from now? Yes.
- Put your guest book somewhere that’s prominent, visible, and accessible—in the foyer, or on a table in the living room. Leave out pens in different colors.
- The guest book itself doesn’t have to be a cheesy bedazzled tome that says “It’s Friends Who Make a Home a Home” on the cover. A sleek and minimalist Moleskine notebook also works.
- If you like the guest book concept but want to get more creative, have your visitors write their messages on a single piece of paper that you could frame later. Or try a cheeky “message in a bottle” conceit, asking guests to write their messages on little bits of paper and then slipping them into a glass container.
All great parties must end. And they often end with a lot of mess.
It’s not necessarily tacky to ask for help cleaning up after a housewarming party, especially if the guests are close friends or family members. Most guests will understand that hosting a party involves a lot of work and may even offer to help without being asked.
To avoid coming across as pushy, consider these tips:
- Casually mention your appreciation for any assistance during the party, without making it a direct request or obligation.
- Wait for guests to offer help before accepting it. Many times, close friends and family will willingly offer to lend a hand.
- If you do need to ask for help, be specific about what tasks you need assistance with, such as clearing dishes or taking out the trash, and avoid asking the same guest for help repeatedly.
Housewarming party favors
Your friends came out to support you and your move, so show them you love ‘em with a little something.
- Personalized coasters (or beer cozies): Hit up a site like Zazzle.com to make some custom schwag. It’s like the grown-up version of when you used to get personalized boxer shorts at someone’s bar mitzvah.
- Miniature potted succulents: Who doesn’t love a tiny cactus? They’re easy to carry, and hard to kill.
- Custom-scented candles: Select a fragrance that complements your personal style, or jibes with the theme of your housewarming party (unless the theme was “Ugly Sweaters,” in which case that wouldn’t smell very good).
8 Tacky Things to Never, Ever Do At Your Housewarming Party
To ensure that your housewarming party is enjoyable for everyone and leaves a positive impression, avoid these tacky behaviors:
- Asking for gifts or sending out a gift registry. C’mon now.
- Don’t go too overboard with decorations—after all, you want to show off your new place, not distract from it.
- It’s okay to be proud, but avoid dropping hints about your rent (!) or how you can finally afford a bigger place after that sweet promotion you got.
- As the host, it’s your responsibility to make your guests feel welcome and comfortable. Mingle, circulate, talk to everyone a bit.
- While it’s fine to enjoy a drink or two (or, ok, three), don’t get blasted.
- Offer a variety of non-alcoholic options and never pressure anyone to consume alcohol if they choose not to. A little LaCroix goes a long way.
- There’s no need to play only cool jazz or easy listening, but keep in mind that your guests have their own tastes, and might not appreciate a playlist that’s entirely composed of ‘90s gangsta rap or ‘00s black metal.
- Don’t use your housewarming party as an opportunity to promote your business or try to sell products to your guests. Your friends came to check out your new house, not your MLM scheme.
And the important question: Do you have renters insurance?
So, renters insurance protects against things like theft and vandalism. And you’re probably not expecting your housewarming guests to tag your bathroom or steal your jewelry.
But did you know renters insurance also provides personal liability protections in the case of accidents—like if one of your guests trips and breaks their leg during an impromptu karaoke session?