Keep It Simple
The key to a successful housewarming party is to keep it simple. Guests know that you've just moved and won't be expecting you to host an elaborate get-together.
What you do need to decide is who will be invited; will it be for adults only or will it be an afternoon get-together for families? Remember that an afternoon get-together is a lot more casual than an evening affair, and if you have children, it's a great way for your kids to get to know people their age.
You might want to decide what to serve before you confirm a time, because what you serve may determine the party's theme and time. To keep plans and effort to a minimum, you might decide to host an afternoon tea—after lunch, but before dinner. It doesn't take too much prep to serve tea, cookies, and juice. Again, your neighbors won't expect too much fuss so don't overdo it.
To keep it simple, you can either speak to your neighbors in person or create a small invitation and drop it into each family's mailbox. If you have children, you might ask them to deliver invitations as a good way for them to meet the neighbors as well. Make a point of inviting people as you see them in their yards or on porches.
To keep fuss down to a minimum, don't ask for RSVPs; instead, let people know they can drop by between specific hours. As long as you receive a few verbal confirmations that people will attend, you know that there will be at least a few people dropping by.
Because you just moved and may have cleaned your home before you moved in, you probably won't have to do a major cleaning. It is important, however, to welcome new friends to a clean, uncluttered space.
Remember that neighbors may want a bit of a tour of your new home. That means you'll want to make the beds, put clothes away, and declutter living spaces. If you have children, have them put away anything they don't want to share with new friends.
Get Supplies But Encourage Contributions
Decide whether you prefer to wash dishes or use disposable plates and cups; remember the extra garbage that will come from using paper and plastic items. Or if you have time, you can rent supplies as well. Renting party supplies is best if you're expecting a lot of guests. Be sure you have enough ice, glasses, and cutlery on hand.
Once you have the basics in hand, you can simplify preparation by following these tips:
- If it's an outdoor party, ask guests to bring their lawn chairs.
- If you're hosting an evening reception, you can ask people to bring over their wine glasses and/or BYO a bottle.
- Buy pre-made food: now is not the time to show off your culinary skills. Besides, combing the area stores for specialty foods or bakeries will force you to take the time to explore your new neighborhood.
Arrange the Party Area
You'll need to set up three to four areas that are easy for guests to access. Remember that, for this kind of informal event, you'll want your guests to help themselves most of the time—so you'll want to set up and set out everything they'll need.
First, you'll need a spot where guests can leave coats or umbrellas; that can a cleared out closet, mudroom, or even a bedroom.
Second, you'll need areas where you can serve food and drinks. Typically, hosts arrange a separate drinks table or bar; this can be a table (indoors or outdoors) or a counter. The key is to choose a location that's separate from the food area to avoid congestion. Provide ice and cups, and allow a little extra space for guests' contributions.
Third, you'll need one or two locations where food can be served. A table or counter is fine, and you can set up indoors or out. Be sure to place plates, napkins, and cutlery in an accessible spot, and include serving utensils for every dish. If guests will be bringing food, provide space for their contributions.
Finally, you'll need comfortable seating areas for your guests. Typically, you'll want more than one seating area that's far enough from the food that people can easily move around without crowding one another. Each seating area should include at least a few chairs or sofas as well as low tables for drinks and snacks. If you like, you can put bowls of nibbles (chips, for example) at each seating area.
Use Fresh Flowers for Decorations
If you're concerned that you haven't decorated your home, or that your home is not feeling lived-in, fresh flowers are a great way to bring warmth into your home. You don't need to spend a lot of money, either. One large bouquet or a few small ones scattered throughout the rooms you'll be using will add a lot of punch with little fuss.
Since this might be the first time you're meeting your neighbors, make sure you allow for enough time to get ready for their arrival without stress and last-minute fixes. Keep it casual, but welcoming, and remember to take a few minutes to relax and recoup from your efforts before the first guests arrive.