A great housewarming party doesn’t necessarily start with a flawless home and a fussy menu. Instead, it simply starts with you. It’s a celebration of reaching your goal, a celebration of your new space and a time to gather friends, neighbors and family for food, drinks and a little laid-back socializing. And don’t worry – no one will care that you haven’t yet painted your baby pink living room walls a more respectable color. In fact, they can even help you choose the perfect shade during the party. Read on to find out how!
With the movers gone and the boxes unloaded, it’s time to pull your party together, so at least two weeks ahead of time, send out invitations, either the old-fashioned way or electronically. Pinterest has tons of DIY options that range from mod to cute and crafty – and Evite offers electronic invites galore, so get to it!
Keep it simple and use what you have, for the most part. For instance:
- Your dining table can obviously be used for your buffet, but so can your coffee table.
- To protect your tables, use your favorite Mexican blankets as table runners – or snap up some plain cloth table runners that you can use again and again.
- Use large vases to hold your flatware. And use bio-degradable paper plates that you can compost for your garden later (or chuck out with the trash but have a little less guilt about).
- Reserve your kitchen island, peninsula or a centrally located credenza for your drink station (more on that later).
- If the weather is nice, use your outdoor space, too. String lights along the eaves of your house or around your trees for a festive look.
- Use lamps or overhead lighting on dimmers to create a warm and cozy atmosphere.
- If you don’t know what color you’d like to paint your walls, paint large swatches on your walls and frame them (in the same frames). Give guests pencils and let them vote on the right shade for your space by placing tick marks or their names next to the frames. (This idea can also be used for flooring samples, remodeling sketches and more.)
Think buffet. It’s less stressful than preparing a sit-down dinner, and encourages people to mix, mingle and meander. Some possible ideas include:
- Mini caprese salads on toothpicks, olives in darling dishes, salami, cheese and fruit, and crusty bread with cheese and/or jam, plus a smattering of cakes, bars and cookies that people can nibble as they walk and talk.
- Carne asada for mini tacos and all the accoutrements that go along with it, chips and guacamole (salsa can be too messy), rice and beans, plus a fresh fruit salad and a freezer full of ice pops for dessert.
- Pasta salad loaded with veggies, chicken kebabs, hummus and warm pita bread, olives, and roasted nuts with herbs. For dessert think small, like lemon or lime tarts, Italian ice, or cupcakes.
It’s easy to go overboard with drinks, but you can save plenty if you keep your focus narrow. So instead of buying virtually every booze under the sun, plus mixers, juices, sodas, wine and beer, develop a signature cocktail, then supply water, beer or wine, and soft drinks. The odds are good that your guests will bring beer or wine or both, and you can always ask them (tactfully) to do so on the invitation, which will also help you save some money. Just a few signature cocktails worth considering include:
- Homemade sangria
- Campari and soda
- Classic Pimms cup
- Moscow Mule
- Gimlets (vodka or gin)
- Homemade hard lemonade
Just put the name of the cocktail – and mixing instructions on a card, then place the card, glasses and ice – and all the ingredients needed to make the drink – on a credenza and let your guests make their own. For parties where alcohol won’t be served, create a similar station – but without the booze.
Possibly the most critical part of your party will be your playlist – so create one that’s long enough to play for several hours without the need to fuss with your iPod or MP3 player. Unless you want dancing, think upbeat background noise and design your playlist accordingly.
A gracious host always follows up with his or her guests, so be sure to send a thank you note to each of your guests (via snail mail or email) – and let them know that their presence was appreciated.