After a move, planning a party is probably the last thing you want to do, but with a bit of time after you finish unpacking, a party is the perfect way for you and your family to meet neighbors and make new friends. The key is to keep it simple. Guests know that you've just moved and won't be expecting you to host an elaborate get-together.
Minimize the PlanningMost parties take weeks to plan, but because you've just moved, you probably don't have a lot of time to plan, or don't want to take a lot of time to plan. Instead, use these easy ideas for your party planning:
- You don't need to spend a lot of time on a theme. It's a housewarming party. What you do need to decide is who will be invited; will it be for adults only or will it be an afternoon get-together for families? Remember that an afternoon get-together is a lot more casual than an evening affair, and if you have children, it's a great way for your kids to get to know people their own age.
- Decide what to serve. You might want to decide what to serve before you confirm a time, just because what you serve may determine the party's theme and time. To keep plans and effort to a minimum, host an afternoon tea - after lunch, but before dinner. It doesn't take too much prep to serve tea, cookies and juice. Again, your neighbors won't expect too much fuss so don't overdo it.
- Drop off invites to your neighbors. To keep it simple, you can either speak to your neighbors in person or create a small invite using word processing software and your home printer, and drop it into each family's mailbox. Or have your children deliver the invite. Make a point of inviting people as you see them in their yards or on porches. To keep fuss down to a minimum, don't ask for RSVPs, instead, let people know they can drop by between specific hours. As long as you receive a few verbal confirmations that people will attend - again, when you run into neighbors - then you know that there will be at least a few people dropping by.
A Few Days Before the Housewarming
- Tidy up. Because you just moved, and may have cleaned your home before you moved in or unpacked, a quick tidy should be easy enough to do. To help, check out this great article on how to do 15 minute clean-ups; that's really all the time you should take to make your home feel welcoming.
- Buy the supplies that you need. It's up to you if you prefer to wash dishes or use disposable plates and cups; just remember the extra garbage that will ensue from paper and plastic items. Or if you have time, you can rent supplies as well. Renting party supplies is best if you're expecting a lot of guests; if it's a smaller affair, it will probably be cheaper to supply the items yourself.
If you're hosting an evening reception, you can ask people to bring over their own wine glasses (if you're serving wine). I did this once and it was a huge hit! People actually used their glasses as ice-breakers, comparing shapes and preferences. Plus, it saved me washing over fifty fragile glasses (never mind finding enough glasses to use!). I also suggest buying all the food you're planning to serve. This is not the time to show off your culinary skills, unless you have the time. Besides, combing the area stores for specialty foods or bakeries will force you to take time to explore your new neighborhood.
- Arrange furniture. I know. You've just moved and it was only a few days ago that you placed all the furniture in its proper position. But it's a great idea to create some conversation areas, a place where the food will be served - whether that's a bar or the dining room table - and a place where people can put their shoes, boots and coats. Clear out the front closet or foyer to allow for the extra room you're going to need. It's a good idea to also create a place for the drinks so people can serve themselves giving you time to mingle and enjoy the party, too.
- Relax. Take a moment to breathe and enjoy your new space. Feeling relaxed in your new home will make your guests feel more relaxed and comfortable, too.
The Day of the Party
- Buy fresh cut flowers. If you're concerned that you haven't decorated your home, or that your home is not feeling lived-in, fresh flowers are a great way to bring warmth into your home. You don't need to spend a lot of money, either. One large bouquet or a few small ones scattered throughout the rooms you'll be using, will add a lot of punch with little fuss.
- Finish the last arrangements. Put out the cups, cutlery and plates and any other supplies that will be needed. If you're serving cold beverages, you can use ice buckets or keep supplies in the fridge and bring them out when needed. Food can be placed on the serving table just before guests arrived. Remember, if you're serving cheese or other food items that should be served close to room temperature, take them out of the fridge an hour before serving.
- Get ready. Since this might be the first time you're meeting your neighbors, make sure you allow for enough time to get ready for their arrival without stress and last minute fixes. Keep it casual, but welcoming, and remember to take a few minutes to relax and recoup from your efforts.