First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide: Part 18

7 tips to throwing the perfect house-warming party

The signature lines have been signed. The handshakes have been shaken. And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for (drumroll please): The clinking of keys as they settle into your palm.

Congratulations! You are the proud owner of a new home! Now for the fun part, throwing a house warming party!

Plan your unpacking

For most, the housewarming is the first chance to show off your beautiful new home. The timing of your party will depend on where you stand on the ‘blank slate vs. detailed design’ scale. If you have a distinct vision for your new home’s aesthetic, you’ll want to empty every box and give yourself enough time to get dialed in before invites go out. If you like the less-conventional, unpainted canvas approach, you’ll only need the basics like seating, toiletries and kitchen/serving equipment to pull off your party (along with some candles and select wall pieces to avoid a cold, sterile look). This preempts the need to fully unpack, allowing you to send invites right after closing and take more time with interior design.

Keep it casual

The housewarming party is a time to relax and socialize, not amp up the ‘do and dress to impress. When you send out invites, make sure to include “casual dress.” That will provide a sigh of relief for the guys and enough guidance for the gals, whose fear of overdressing is second only to underdressing.

Put presents away

If guests are kind enough to bring gifts, accept them graciously, place them in a visible yet inconspicuous location and then forget about them until the party is over. Nothing kills a housewarming quicker than unwrapping presents in front of everyone. It will stop conversation, ruin the atmosphere and can create awkwardness among other guests who didn’t bring wrapped gifts. Save your sincere appreciation for the thank you note.

Essential aromas

The sense of smell is a powerful link to memories, so you want to make a good impression! Whether it’s chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven or cinnamon-scented candles, provide a pleasing, welcoming atmosphere as guests arrive. The housewarming is not the time to experiment with new dishes or air fresheners.

Music musts

The perfect housewarming needs the perfect playlist. This means that your personal tastes might not be appropriate, even though it is your party. The idea here is that although every guest has different music preferences, the audio backdrop should appeal to as many of them as possible. Music from highly specific genres might be a mistake, especially if you have guests from diverse backgrounds. So ditch the death metal and industrial/rave records and try something easier on the ears. Vintage rock and dream pop feature universally appealing melodies—think Crosby Stills & Nash, Paul Simon, The Shins—while classical music and torch jazz offer tranquility and relaxation—think Mozart, Pachelbel, and Billie Holiday. Your zip code will also determine what makes the playlist. If your new place is in Nashville, good ‘ol country should get some heavy play. If it’s an apartment in Greenwich Village, a healthy dose of folk rock is in order. And remember, keep the volume at a level that doesn’t interfere with normal conversation.

Finger foods

It’s best to avoid a sit-down dinner during the housewarming. There are a number of reasons for this, the biggest among them is the need for you to be mobile as you show guests around. If you stay buried in the kitchen preparing and serving food, you won’t have the opportunity to interact and give tours. Hearty apps and wine and cheese are perfect for the housewarming party, encouraging guests to mingle while letting you limit prep time to pre-party hours. If your party is during dinner hours, set out some cold salads and show off the back deck while you grill brats and burgers. This buffet approach won’t take too much time, keeps the mobility and mingle factors in place, and ensures your guests don’t leave hungry.

Get good help

If you’re in a relationship, divide and conquer the party by assigning each other specific tasks. For instance, one takes coats and gifts, the other makes drinks; one serves food, the other gives tours, and so on. If you’re a single new homeowner, enlist the help of a good friend or friends to handle food and beverage duties while you show off the place. And don’t forget to grab a nice bottle of wine or some other gift that shows you appreciate your friend’s help.

First-Time Homebuyer’s Guide in review:

Parts 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-10

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