Throw the perfect housewarming party in your new Chicago home
It’s official: you’ve found your dream home, your offer was accepted, and you’ve finally – finally – finished unpacking boxes. That makes throwing a party the natural next step in making new home ownership feel like a done deal.
If you want to throw a memorable housewarming party to show off your brand new digs – and of course, keep it completely stress-free – the key is to keep it simple. Your guests will know that you just moved and they won’t be expecting a five star soiree just yet.
Make a Plan
As tempting as it might be to invite your friends over the day you move in, it’s better to wait a few weeks until you’re unpacked — and until there is food in the house. Trust me on this one: everyone will bring celebratory champagne or wine, or maybe flowers, but not one guest will think to bring you a housewarming pizza.
Instead of an impromptu gathering on day one, plan your housewarming party for the first few months of your residence. Pick a time and theme so that you can buy the appropriate food and drink, and have the areas of your house where you’ll be gathering ready for visitors. Although a lot of people choose drinks and light bites for housewarming parties, anything goes. Decide if you’re going to throw a daytime open house/drop in situation or a more formal dinner party. Once you have a sense of timing and theme, you can make sure the parts of your home that people will see are fully functional and ready for guests.
No one will remember your move-in date once they’re enjoying your glorious backyard and cocktails around the outdoor fireplace, but they will remember if they’re tripping over boxes, starving.
In this day and age, nobody expects an engraved paper invitation — unless you’re having a housewarming wedding. Use Paperless Post or Punchbowl to create simple, customized electronic invitations that you can email to your guests. It’s always nice to send a follow-up phone call or text, but you’re better off focusing your energy on unpacking the kitchen than you are addressing envelopes.
Prepare the Space You’ll Need
Your guests will know that you’ve just moved in, so you don’t need to bend over backward to make it look like you’ve been there for 10 years. What you do need to do is prepare any rooms where you want guests to gather. For most people, that means the kitchen, great room/family room, outdoor space (weather permitting) and your dining room if you’re throwing a sit down dinner party.
“One thing I tend to stress over when hosting is how to create good flow within the party space,” said Houzz contributor Laura Gaskill. “Practice the art of strewing. Put some snacks on the coffee table, a self-serve bar tray on the credenza and twinkle lights on the patio. These small touches let guests know they’re welcome in these areas, without your having to say a thing.”
Also be sure to stock up on toilet paper, hand soap, and hand towels. Anytime you entertain, your bathroom will see more traffic than usual and if you’ve just moved in, you might not have closets full of backup supplies.
I also like to stash away any valuables — not because I don’t trust my guests, but because a lot of us are very, very clumsy. If you live in a smaller space, like a loft or a condo, you might want to hide the antiques and anything super breakable, especially if you’re planning to pack the room.
Make a Menu
I love to cook, so I always plan my parties around what kind of food and drink I’m planning to serve (my taco night party is one of my favorites!). For a housewarming party, casual finger foods are always a good bet, so people can mix, mingle and nosh.
Here is a sample menu to get you started:
Prosciutto Wrapped Arugula from The Kitchn
Smoked Salmon Cucumber Bites from A Clean Bake
Ricotta Toast Five Ways from The Kittchen
The Perfect Cheeseboard from The Baker Chick
Bacon and Caramelized Onion Tart from Shauna Sever
Or, let a friendly neighborhood caterer make a menu for you. Bonus: they will also prepare it, come to your house and serve it, and do most of the cleanup, too.
Set Times for Group Tours
You want to actually enjoy the party, right? Even though you’re excited about the heated floors in your bathroom and the panoramic view from the balcony off the master, we know you want to enjoy a glass of something sparkly and catch up with the company.
Set aside a few times to take guests on tours of your new home, so that you aren’t spending the night running up and down the stairs and showing off the his-and-hers closets. You already did the hard work — now it’s time to celebrate.