The Etiquette of the Housewarming Party

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Westover Hills, Texas | Laurie Brants & Rob SchumacherBriggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty

The finishing touch to any major renovation or move, a housewarming can mark a new era in the life of your home. And like any social gathering, there are guidelines for housewarming party etiquette that every host—and guest—should keep in mind.

Housewarming parties are traditionally more casual affairs, but there are a few ways to ensure they are a memorable and thoughtful occasion. Whether you’re hosting or attending, here are a few helpful pointers to make that fall refresh as celebratory as possible.

For the Host

Take Time to Settle In

Diablo, California | Anton Danilovich and Rebecca BurnsGolden Gate Sotheby’s International Realty

Establishing a new home—or finishing extensive renovations—is an exciting accomplishment, one you’ll want to share with friends and family. But there’s no rush to make your home party ready. Leave yourself time to apply the final coats of paint, hang art, and select the perfect pieces of furniture to make your space feel complete. Invitations can wait, and taking a moment to settle in ensures your home feels like yours—and is warmly welcoming when it comes time to host guests. 

Think Strategically About Timing

Park City, Utah | Brian WilsonSummit Sotheby’s International Realty

Your housewarming will have a different feel and structure depending on what time of day you’re planning to invite guests into your new home. If you’re hosting a Sunday afternoon gathering, catered canapés and mimosas are a brunch-appropriate refreshment choice; if you’re aiming to welcome guests during dinner hours, be sure to serve enough food to constitute a meal. Hosting in the evening means refreshments can be limited to casual drinks and light hors d’oeuvres—the scale and scope of your party is best determined by when it’ll take place. Clarify the food offerings on your invitation, and confer with your caterer on ways to keep service natural and easy.

Invite the Neighbors

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico | Wesley GleasonAgave Sotheby’s International Realty

The main purpose of throwing a housewarming party is to settle into your new home by welcoming others into your space, but it can also mean settling into a community. By inviting your neighbors to your festivities, you’ll be setting the tone for future friendly interactions in the neighborhood. It’s an easy way for your neighbors to get to know you—and you them—in a low-pressure, casual social environment.

Go Light on Decoration

Perugia, Italy | Diletta Giorgolo S.Italy Sotheby’s International Realty

A housewarming party needn’t be weighed down with elaborate themes or grand gestures—this is a party designed to share your beautiful new space, so your home can do most of the work. Simple decorative measures like elegant pillar candles, fresh flowers, and freshly-pressed tablecloths are sufficient and allow your guests to take in your space without the distraction of ornate displays. If seating or servingware are going to be an issue, rent the appropriate pieces to help your evening progress smoothly. The goal is to keep the focus on your home; encouraging flow through your entertainment spaces and guiding guests on tours should take precedence over show-stopping extras.

For the Guest

Come Bearing Gifts

Raleigh, North Carolina | Susan BashfordHodge & Kittrell Sotheby’s International Realty

While a host should never request gifts or send out gift registries with housewarming invitations, it’s accepted practice to bring a small present when celebrating a new home. The gift need not be elaborate, but it should act as a small gesture of thanks for their hospitality and as a way to help them settle into their new space. A glass decanter is an elegant choice, as is a marble serving board or bottle of wine: think of gifts as a way to augment the host’s future social gatherings in their space. The gift is a token of appreciation for the invitation as much as it is a way to warm their home.

Bring Warmth

Encinitas, California | Kevin DalzellRyan Dalzell, and Jim DalzellPacific Sotheby’s International Realty

It may seem simple, but remembering to compliment the homeowner’s new space is an important part of being a gracious guest. Your host has invited people in their home en masse for the first time, and reassuring comments are a kind and simple way to help them celebrate this achievement. While it is a social gathering, it’s best to refrain from letting the food—or drink—distract you from the true purpose of the event: let the home and the host remain the focus.

The housewarming party comes with best etiquette practices, like any other social gathering, but one of the most important things to remember is that it should be enjoyable. Whether you’re a host or a guest, keep things relaxed: the point of the party is to establish memories in a new space, and to turn a house into a welcoming home. 

If thoughts of hosting have you aspiring to a new space, discover homes for living and entertaining among these inspiring listings.

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