So you’ve put away the cardboard boxes and traded them in for furniture and décor that you absolutely love. You’re all moved into your new house or apartment, and the only thing left to do is throw a housewarming party. But this isn’t just a house party—this kind of event is a rarity, so it should have your personality written all over it.
Meet the Expert
Jung Lee is a New York–based event designer who co-founded Fête, a full-service event planning and design production firm based in New York City.
Unsure of how to start planning? Event designer Jung Lee suggests that any host should begin by asking themselves, How do I want people to remember my first party? It’s a simple question that will guide you through designing your big event. “Think about who you are and what’s going to make you happy, because a happy host makes the guests also feel really good and wonderful,” says Lee. Ready to start planning your home’s grand unveiling? Follow these six steps to throw a memorable housewarming party, and then peruse several theme-specific party suggestions to inspire your special day.
Prep Your Home
First thing's first: Ready your space. “Make sure your house is ready to be shown and you feel really good and proud of it,” says Lee. Unlike other house parties, no rooms should be off-limits to guests. “I think the whole point of the housewarming party is people want to see your new home and tour it. So feel good about all of the rooms... Everything should be open and accessible,” Lee advises. That means every space in your home needs to be ready for guests. Think of this as motivation to clean up your space, and as an opportunity to freshen up a room with flowers and unique décor—for example, try a vignette of collected items from your travels, or hanging a gallery wall.
Invite Your Guests
Then, it's time to create a guest list. Lee doesn’t think there are any limits to whom you should invite to a housewarming party; but she does advise ensuring that everyone will be comfortable, have enough room to move around in, and enjoy the event. She also suggests extending the invite to your new neighbors. “That’s just a nice way to kick off your new presence. Then they get to know you. You’re always going to need your neighbors to help you out in one way or another,” says Lee.
As far as which friends, family, and co-workers to invite, Lee suggests asking yourself whose energy you want in your new home. This milestone is your first opportunity to allow your loved ones to enjoy your new home with you. Their energy will impact how you feel about the space, so choose wisely. “I think it’s really about the people who will warm your house… That’s the most important at the end of the day,” says Lee.
Have guests write their name in a guest book as they arrive. This way you’ll have a fun memory of every party you host in your happy home.
Make Sure the Party Reflects Who You Are
Everything from the activities and the atmosphere to the food and the drinks you serve should reflect who you are and what you enjoy. “Like any other party, it really reflects what the homeowner is all about,” says Lee. For example, if you love to garden, give a quick tour of the house and lead guests outside to enjoy the outdoors (and your new plant babies) for the rest of the party. Or if you love cooking, prepare a meal for everyone to enjoy together (like food editor-inspired recipes including beet and ricotta spaghetti, and brownie ice cream cake for dessert) while breaking in the new kitchen.
Choose Food and Drinks
As important as it is to design the event around who you are and what you’re proud of, it’s equally important to plan your food and drink offerings around what kind of host you want to be. For example, Lee suggests thinking about how you'd react if a certain food or drink spilled on the sofa or carpet. If the thought upsets you, don’t serve it. Or, consider serving food outside or offering plenty of room around a table for guests to eat and socialize around.
“If you really are into protecting your furniture and you don’t want any ring marks, make sure that there are coasters everywhere so it’s easy and accessible,” says Lee. She also suggests employing your close friends or partner to set a good example for others to follow. And unless the food you're serving is a sit-down meal, make sure guests can easily help themselves to food and drinks. Plan a beautiful spread (like a flavorful cheese platter) or hire a caterer to serve appetizers while partygoers mingle; that way everything runs seamlessly.
Don't Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Lee often observes clients making the mistake of thinking they can do it all when in reality, everybody could use some level of help planning an event. “I think that people try to do too much. We all think we’re our own superheroes,” she says. One easy way to ensure you’ll be prepared for your housewarming party is to make a detailed checklist to reference. Lee suggests including tasks like “set music at low volume,” “ensure bathrooms are open and ready for guests,” “light a scented candle,” and “display freshly cut flowers.” Lee says doing this will help keep you organized during the event.
Don’t Overthink It
Try to avoid going overboard with party favors and activities. There’s no need to stress about having games and activities for your guests unless that’s something you enjoy planning and participating in (and think your guests will too). “The point of the housewarming is to get people together,” says Lee.
The same goes for party favors. “I don’t think anyone’s expecting a favor at the end of the day. But if it truly has meaning for you and it represents who you are, then you should definitely do it because your guests will really appreciate that,” says Lee. It can be as simple as giving away flowers from your garden or Polaroid photos snapped during the party.
Try a Potluck Party
While your kitchen may not yet be complete, have housewarming party guests bring over their favorite appetizers and dishes. Going potluck-style is great for casual parties, and if the weather is ideal, a great way to gather everyone outside, like a backyard picnic.
Throw a Stock-the-Bar Soirée
Similar to the potluck party, invite guests to bring their favorite beverage to help stock your bar. From liquor to wine, craft beer, and non-alcoholic drinks, let your guests build your wet bar, while you provide the snacks—from bagels to bruschetta, almost anything can become a food bar.
You could also order some fun signature cocktail napkins to mark the occasion.
Serve Just Desserts
Let your sweet tooth run wild and host a housewarming party featuring everything from bite-sized cookies, brownies, a candy bar to an ice cream bar. Include coffee and tea to drink, and maybe even a selection of milk. To accommodate dietary preferences and needs, consider offering plant-based milk options like almond or oat milk.
Throw an Endless Summer BBQ Bash
Fire up the grill and smoker (or stovetop griddle if cooking indoors), ask guests to arrive in backyard bbq attire like t-shirts, jeans, and flip flops, fill a tub (maybe your actual bathtub?) with ice and beer, hand out neon-colored sunglasses as party favors, and turn up some upbeat tunes for an endless summer-themed housewarming party.
If you have the capacity to build a bonfire somewhere, take full advantage of your outdoor space and treat your guests to s'mores and hot chocolate.
Create a Wellness Weekend Gathering
Invite guests over to help smudge your new space with sage, host a cacao ceremony, and have everyone agree that for the few hours of your housewarming party, only positivity is allowed throughout your space. Have a snack spread filled with whole foods, from a hummus bar and lots of fresh fruit to a grilled chicken salad with green goddess dressing and lots of crusty bread from your local bakery, for example (or try a green goddess grilled cheese recipe). Close with a meditation circle.
Throw a Black and White Affair
Assign a black and white colored dress code, including details about whether the party will be casual or more formal. You can also extend the color scheme to the food (a nicely charred brisket with mashed potatoes, with a tuxedo cheesecake for dessert, for example.) Once everyone arrives, gather for a striking photo to commemorate the evening.
Host a Garden Get-Together
Make florals your central theme—everything from tropical Hawaiian-print shirts to blossom-heavy tea dresses (like those from Reformation) will fit right in. Decorate your space with your favorite flowers, succulents, and other plants.