Do you want to have a party but not one that requires extensive meal planning? Do you not have enough seating to accommodate your ever-growing guest list? Or do you enjoy mixing, mingling, and introducing your friends to each other?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, you might want to consider hosting an open house rather than a formal dinner party. You can serve finger foods, and as long as you have enough space for people to stand and mill about comfortably, you don't have to cut the number of people on your list.
An open house is a great way to invite everyone who has invited you to a party over the past year. It enables you to reciprocate without having to book every weekend for the next several months.
You should also consider inviting your neighbors. It's a nice gesture, and since they'll be seeing people coming and going from your house, you can avoid hurting anyone's feelings for being left out.
Invitations to your open house should set the tone of the party and contain the following information:
- Exact location
- Phone number and email address for RSVP
- Start and end time
- Style of party (formal, casual, costume, etc.)
Even though you may not have enough chairs to seat everyone on the list, make sure you have enough room for them to walk around. Chances are, not everyone will be there at the same time, but you want to be prepared in case some people linger longer. It's also a good idea to expect more people than you invited to show up.
You'll want a clean house before your guests arrive. Cut the stress by hiring someone to do the heavy work if you have the means. If you can't afford to do this, enlist family members and set aside an hour per day for a few days so you don't wear yourself out right before the party starts.
If you don't want people roaming around your entire house, or if you have certain rooms that are off limits, make signs to put on closed doors. Most people will understand that not every room is available for guests to snoop around in.
One of the best things about an open house party is that you aren't expected to feed everyone a full meal. However, you should offer a variety of food and drinks to help your guest relax and feel comfortable while they are in your home.
Make sure you have enough plates, flatware, and cups. There is nothing wrong with using disposable serving products or mismatched pieces.
It's a good idea to have stations around the main area and in the kitchen to prevent a bottleneck. Here are some suggestions for refreshment stations:
- Variety of chips and dip
- Cold cuts and breads with condiments
- Vegetable platters
- Nuts and fruits
- Sushi platters
- Soft drinks
- Tea and coffee
Decorating for an open house party should be pretty simple. Look around your house and consider ways to boost the décor you already have. For example, if you have basic neutrals with small splashes of color throughout, add vases filled with cut flowers in a variety of colors. Or you may choose to use candles for color and fragrance.
You might want to incorporate a theme to make your open house more interesting. Here are some suggestions:
- Luau – Give everyone a lei as they enter and serve tropical refreshments. You can find inexpensive luau decorations at most party and discount stores.
- Graduation – If your open house is a celebration of someone's high school or college graduation, place framed photos of the guest of honor around the room.
- Holiday – Decorate your house according to the holiday. If you don't already have your home decorated, you might even include your guests by asking them to help.
- Housewarming – If you have just moved into your home, an open house party is a great way to show off the new digs to your friends and family members.
Ending the Party
If you find that some people don't want to leave at the designated "end" time of the party, turn off the music, grab your guests' coats, turn up the lights, and start cleaning. This should be a strong indication that the party is over.