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You’ve moved into your new home. You’ve unpacked (finally!). And your family and friends have asked you “When can I see your new place?” so many times you’ve lost count. It’s time to throw a housewarming party.
There’s only one problem: how do you throw a great housewarming party? The last one you went to, it was just six people standing around awkwardly, dipping vegetables in that weirdly thick ranch dressing that comes in a plastic tub while they quickly ran out of things to talk about. Yeah, no thanks. You want a party that will create good vibes in your new home, delight your friends and family, and act as a foundation for all the great times to come.
Sounds like a lot, huh? But here at Bellhop, we believe in you. (OK, we don’t know you, but we believe that if you’re going through the trouble to research housewarming parties, you are likely to throw a great party). We know your housewarming party won’t be a dud-with-ranch-dressing. And you can count on us to help. In this article, we’ll share everything we know about housewarming party themes, etiquette, decorations, food, and even the history of the tradition of the housewarming party.
Let’s get to warming that house of yours!
The Origins of the Housewarming Party
Have you ever wondered where the tradition of a housewarming party started? If not, then feel free to skip this section to get to the more practical bits. But if you enjoy knowing random fun facts, read on.
As you might have suspected, the term “housewarming” literally means to “warm a house.” Centuries ago, to celebrate moving into a new home, residents threw a literal housewarming party. Their friends and family would come over and light fires in the various fireplaces in the new home and offer firewood as a gift to keep the home warm.
Besides physically warming the house, this practice was also believed to banish and repel any evil spirits who might be lurking around. It was thought that if a house sat unoccupied and cold for a while, roving ghosts without a home of their own to haunt would move in. Therefore, it was only natural to drive out those ghosts when someone moved into a new home by throwing a – you guessed it – housewarming party. Feel free to call your party a “Ghosts-be-Gone” bash, if you like.
In French-speaking countries, residents moving into a new home would throw what was called a pendaison de crémaillère, which literally translates to ““hanging of the chimney hook.” It was customary to invite all who had a part in building the home over for a dinner party as a way of saying thanks. Dinner would likely include a large pot of soup or stew, which would be hung over the fire on the chimney hook.
Over the years, ghost banishing rituals and French dinner parties along with an assortment of other house-blessing traditions from around the world, have transformed into what is today referred to as a housewarming party.
So how do you do a housewarming?
Choose a Party Theme
First things first, you might want to come up with a theme for your housewarming party. A theme is not a requirement for a good party, but we have found that lots of new homeowners like to spice up their housewarming parties with a theme. Oftentimes a theme can provide conversation fodder, music ideas, and food ideas that will make the rest of your planning easier. Your call.
If you do pick a theme, the key is to come up with one that is fun but not obnoxious. A good theme that is not overdone can make it easy for new acquaintances to talk to one another. A bad theme can kill a party – particularly a theme that requires guests to do things they might find awkward or annoying.
For example, while a costume party might sound like fun, could it be awkward for people to attend whom you have never met before? Maybe. Also, imagine being that one guest who shows up without a costume to the costume party? Or worse… the one guest who shows up wearing a costume while everyone else is not.
Here are a few theme ideas:
Housewarming Party Themes
Have all your guests bring a covered dish from another country –– sushi, lasagna, goulash, gyros, etc. Put together a playlist of world music.
Year-Round Secret Santa
Have all your guests bring a $10 – $15 gift that they can exchange with someone else at the party. Since everyone likes receiving gifts, this theme works year-round.
Help Me Out
This is where you pick a particular project and center the party around it. It could be unpacking some boxes, painting a particular room, planting spring bulbs, or figuring out the layout of your living room. Have an assortment of refreshing beverages on hand and snacks, play some upbeat music, then have dinner together afterward. You’ll have to know everyone on your guest list pretty well to pull off this theme, though. Inviting your new neighbor over to help you paint is probably not their idea of a “party.”
Just remember, make the theme fun and comfortable. It should add to the ambiance of the party… not take away from your mission, which is to show off your new home to the folks in your life and get to know your new neighbors.
Housewarming Party Food Ideas
If you decide to throw a housewarming party where the food isn’t dictated by the theme, you’ll have to come up with a menu.
You know the age-old saying— the closest way to a person’s heart is through his or her stomach. So yes, if you want a good party, you need good food and drink.
We’ll go out on a limb here: we recommend home cooked food for your housewarming party. The whole point of the party is a celebration of the new space that you call “home,” right? And what says “home” more than a home-cooked meal? It lends the party a level of authenticity that just feels right. That being said, obviously, having some sort of catering is always an option if you’d prefer not to cook. Maybe you want to cook a part of the meal and have the rest catered. Or you can have a potluck party and ask everyone to bring a dish.
Lastly, here’s one safe bet, throw a make your own pizza party. Buy a bunch of fresh ingredients, pizza sauce, and dough (ask the local pizza shop if they sell dough)… then let everyone make their own pizza and… BAM! You’ve got yourself a good time. Just add some cold beers and soda – and you’ve made a grand housewarming party.
Housewarming Party Decorations
When it comes to housewarming party décor, here’s the key thing to remember: your guests are going to want to see the home and not the 50+ balloons you bought from Party City. Keep it simple, unless you are a dedicated party-giver with an exuberant sense of style (if so, please invite us to your next party!).
With that said, we do recommend investing in something that spruces up your home to make it feel like a celebration: a carefully curated playlist. You’ll want to play music the entire night. No, it doesn’t have to be blaring throughout the house, but good music sets the scene and keeps the energy high.
Have you ever walked into a restaurant where there is absolutely no music playing and everyone is talking quietly? It lacks energy. It feels dead. Maybe even a little creepy. Those are not words you want describing your housewarming party.
Housewarming Party Etiquette
Now, for the housewarming party etiquette. While we’re sure you are super polite, everybody can use a little refreshing when it comes to etiquette.
One of the biggest questions we get when it comes to housewarming party etiquette is — should I register my housewarming party? Everyone’s answer to this is a little different, but our answer is no. Registering for your house party may come off a little pushy… like you are just throwing the house party to snag some free gifts.
Put yourself in your neighbor’s shoes. If someone were to send you an invitation to a housewarming party and then say, “Oh yeah, I am registered at Amazon. So, don’t feel obligated, but if you do want to bring something…” It puts a bad taste in your mouth. Guests will or won’t naturally bring housewarming gifts, as they choose, either way you don’t have to remind them or get all specific about your needs.
Invitations and your Housewarming Guest List
The next piece of housewarming etiquette we wanted to cover was the invitation and the guest list. We recommend always giving your invites a 2-3 week heads up so they can plan in advance. Also, it doesn’t hurt to send out a reminder a few days before the party.
Who should you include on your guest list? Your friends, family and potentially your new neighbors. This depends on where you live, community expectations and whether you want to be buddies with the folks who live close by. It’s nice to meet and mingle with your new neighbors, and in some places it would be odd if you don’t invite everyone in your close vicinity over. In other places, like a building of small apartments in the heart of a big city, you might just invite the folks who are likely to have to deal with your noisy party – the people on your floor, and perhaps those who live directly above and below your apartment. If in doubt, invite all your new neighbors (assuming you feel safe in doing so, and have the room to entertain them). People are more likely to be hurt if they don’t get an invite then if they do.
Final Thoughts on How to Throw a Housewarming Party
The last thing we are going to say is this: stop overthinking it. Sometimes people new to a neighborhood feel overly inclined to impress their neighbors and become the most popular kid in the cul-de-sac. But remember, your neighbors will like you for you (assuming you are a good, courteous neighbor). Relax and remember to have fun. Happy new home!
(And if you haven’t moved in quite yet, we’re happy to help you get settled into your new place. We offer moving services nationwide – whether you’re relocating cross-country or across the street, a Bellhop mover will be happy to assist you. We make moving as hassle-free as humanly possible, so unless you’re into stress, contact us before you make a move!