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Housewarming Parties

One of the few parties you throw for your own benefit, housewarming parties give you an opportunity to show off your new home to your friends and family and meet your new neighbors.

    You'll Need
  • Ingredients for each of the recipes and any serving tools
  • Fresh flowers
  • Theme-related décor
  • Customized matchbooks for favors
  • Music CDs
  • A clean, organized home
Date, Theme, Budget, and Venue Sunday, late afternoon, about six or eight weeks after you move in—Don't have the party until you've unpacked all the boxes and are ready to entertain. Begin the party at 4:00 p.m., and plan for it to run about four hours.

Seasonal theme—Focus your party around the season: For summer, host a beach-themed party or barbecue; in autumn, play up fall colors and the harvest; in winter, connect your housewarming with a Super Bowl party; and for spring, make fresh flowers and new life your theme.

Midrange budget—because you'll be opening your home for the first time to friends, family, and neighbors, provide a bountiful spread and elegant décor. Plan to spend about $11 to $13 per person.

Your home venue—Your new abode is the featured guest at this party, so make sure it's clean, organized, and ready to be the center of attention. You don't have to be completely finished with the decorating when you have your party—your guests will understand that you've just moved in—but you should be finished unpacking and have set up what furnishings you already have.

Guest List and Invitations
Invite about 25 to 30 people, including friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors—anyone you'd like to welcome into your home. If you don't yet know your neighbors, this is an excellent opportunity to meet them. If you live in a neighborhood that doesn't invite this sort of casual intimacy, stop by and have a chat with your neighbors before inviting them. You'll be able to determine in just a few minutes whether it would be appropriate to invite them.

Use Internet-based invitations for your housewarming party. If you plan to invite neighbors, simply print out a copy of the invitation, write a personal note at the top ("We'd love to meet you and your family!"), and leave it in their mailbox or wedged in their doorjamb.

Menu
Serve an elegant, yet hearty, buffet, a mixture of grilled and kitchen-prepared food. The Shashlik recipe stretches to fill quite a few bellies, and an assortment of delectable appetizers and side dishes round out the menu.

  • Appetizers—Baked Garlic, Pesto Crostini with Cherry Tomatoes, Stuffed Mushrooms
  • Side dishes—Caesar Salad to Go-Go, Spinaki, KKL's Grilled Asparagus, Zucchini-Walnut Bread
  • Main course—Shashlik the Molokan Way
  • Dessert—Cream Cheese Brownies, Fudge
  • Beverages—Sangria, assorted soda, water, coffee
Because this meal is heavy on the meat-free side dishes, any vegetarian guests will have a good selection of food.

If you're on a tight budget, have an open house, instead of a housewarming party. You can eliminate the barbecue and instead serve a deli tray, a honey-baked ham, or a large assortment of finger foods. As guests come and go, they can pick a few things on which to nosh, but they won't be expecting a hearty main course.

Décor and Favors
Keep the décor simple and focused on your seasonal theme; your clean and organized home should serve as the perfect décor for this party, with seasonal floral arrangements—and, perhaps, a few bowls of fresh fruit—adding a finishing touch.

To add elegance to your party, set a lavish arrangement of flowers in each room, including the bathroom and kitchen. It's a small touch, but one that will add subtle grace to your gathering.

For favors, think "practical." I like the idea of ordering customized matchbooks containing your name, new address, and phone number. Guests will have your contact information at hand whenever they light a match.

Music and Entertainment
Select cheerful, upbeat music as the background for this party. The tunes shouldn't drown out conversation, but be loud enough to ease early arrivals into the party when the room is still relatively empty. Here are a few CDs to get you started:

  • The Look of Love, Diana Krall
  • It Had to Be You: The Great American Songbook, Rod Stewart
  • Motown, Michael McDonald
You really don't need to have any entertainment at this party; conversation, food, and drink are activity enough. You might be tempted to make an event out of opening your housewarming gifts, but please resist. Although gift-giving at housewarming parties is traditionally appropriate, not everyone will bring a gift. To avoid making your empty-handed guests feel uncomfortable, unwrap any gifts as you receive them, or set them aside to open after the guests have left. Please remember to send a handwritten thank-you note for any gifts you receive.

If you need quite a few things for your new home, consider registering at a home and bath store. Registration is usually free, so there's no harm in selecting a few items; you can also create a wish list at an online store you frequent. Many guests will ask what you need for your new home—if asked, you can direct guests to your registry.

More on: Pop Culture

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Reproduced from Plan a Fabulous Party In No Time, by Tamar Love, by permission of Pearson Education. Copyright © 2005 by Que Publishing.

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