How to Throw a Housewarming Party

wine glasses toast
Photo: Getty

Throwing a housewarming is the perfect way to meet neighbors and introduce your new digs to friends and family. Here's how to pull it off with style.

What's the point of throwing a housewarming party?
It's a coming-out shindig for your new life together in your shared pad and a way to make people feel welcome in it. Okay, and maybe to gloat (just a little) over your new space with all that cool wedding swag on display. Don't worry if you're not living in your dream home yet. You still have every reason to throw a housewarming if you're renters or even if you're simply moving into his old place (or vice versa).

Can you have one to celebrate a new renovation?
It's still cool to throw a party to show off your revamped kitchen or new deck -- just call it an open house, not a housewarming party. What's the difference? An open house is less about your big-picture household and more about a new feature of your home. It's also a more laid-back affair where guests can come and go, and gifts aren't part of the equation.

Should we wait if the place isn't quite the way we want it yet?
A home is always a work in progress, so there's no need to wait until your nest is at its camera-ready best to send out invites. No one will notice if you haven't slipcovered your sofa or repainted your bathroom the right shade of blue (trust us). You can have an informal get-together as soon as the movers unload the last box, or you can wait until the house is (mostly) ready for show.

What should we serve?
Housewarming parties are typically just cocktail hours with your basic drinks and hors d'oeuvres. But the party should suit your tastes and your new abode. If your place has a great backyard, an outdoor barbecue might be best. Or, if you want to show off the kitchen, try an a.m. brunch.

How do we invite people?
If the idea of another envelope-a-thon after the wedding and thank-you note blitz makes you cringe, you're in luck. Evites are totally acceptable. If you don't know your new neighbors' emails yet (or even their full names), just slip casual invites under their front doors.

Are gifts a given?
Housewarming gifts are optional (don't look so depressed). If people ask about the stuff you need, the polite answer is, “All we need are friends and family to help us celebrate." If some guests do happen to bring presents, don't make a big fuss of opening them in front of everyone. It'll make the people who showed up empty-handed feel really lame.

Do we need to give a house tour?
Absolutely…it's the main attraction! Your guests won't show up at the same time, so plan on giving a couple of tours. Just keep it brief (5 to 10 minutes tops), and when you guide people through rooms, have some interesting talking points, like a cool piece of art from your honeymoon or a funny story about when you moved in. While one of you shows people around, the other should be by the front door to greet newcomers and have them sign the guest book. (A Polaroid guest book will make remembering names of your new neighbors a lot easier.)

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