Nothing makes you feel like a real grownup quite like your first apartment. From packing to home decor, I embraced it all. However, what I was most excited about was getting to host my very first housewarming party. I have always loved attending my friend’s housewarming soirees - there’s something about celebrating new beginnings that makes me especially happy!
My first housewarming party, however, didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had imagined. From preparation fails to day of challenges, check out 4 mistakes I made and lessons I learned when hosting my first housewarming party.
Keep the Menu Simple yet Flavorful
Mistake: It’s easy to get a little carried away when planning the menu for your first housewarming party. While serving a gourmet, 3-course meal is tempting, you also need to remember that you’re still a rookie.
I made the mistake of planning an elaborate dinner party menu which required lots of grocery shopping and planning, not to mention spending tons of money. If you’ve recently moved, the last thing you need to do is add to your growing mountain of expenses and limited amount of time.
Lesson: After spending a significant amount of money and time preparing a large feast for my guests, the pressure got overwhelming. After several failed attempts at cooking huge portions of some complex recipes, I threw in the towel and was forced to cater my party - which cost even more than serving a full-course meal.
If it’s your first time, don’t be shy to serve simple yet tasty o'dourves. Dishes such as fruit platters, cheeses, chocolates, and an assortment of wines are more than enough to satisfy your guests. If you’re dead set on offering your guests a full meal, make it a potluck instead!
2. Send Digital Invites That Require an RSVP
Mistake: While word of mouth may have worked when hosting parties in college, not sending proper invites for your housewarming party can run you into quite a few problems. I prefer casual forms of communication, hence my mistake of sending out a group text to alert my friends about my housewarming. This go-with-the-flow style invite backfired on me for a few reasons.
Lesson: Since most of my friends responded with a resounding “yes!” to my unconventional invite, I assumed that all of them were coming - bad assumption. While I prepared food and beverages for a large number of people, about 30% of my invitees did not attend.
At first, I was understandably irritated, however, I later realized that not sending official invites with an option to RSVP made it easier for guests to cancel last minute or not respond at all. While I’m not suggesting mailing out fancy invitations for your first housewarming party, sending out eye-catching digital invites will not only make your party seem more official, it will also require guests to give plenty of notice if they can’t attend. If sending out digital invites feels impersonal, follow up with a personalized text.
3. Offer Enough Seating Room
Mistake: My first apartment was rather small and had only one couch, a loveseat and a few dining room chairs next to the kitchen. It didn’t occur to me to make room for additional seating. I made another incorrect assumption that my guests wouldn’t mind standing or squeezing together on the couch - they should understand that my first apartment wasn’t a sprawling mansion, right?
Lesson: On the day of my housewarming, I realized that seating was something I should have paid more attention to. It’s not easy to eat, drink and socialize without ever sitting down! Having a small space doesn’t mean you can’t offer ample seating for your housewarming party attendees. Use folding chairs or create makeshift seating by placing cushions on the floor around a coffee table. Your guests won’t mind how unconventional it is, as long as they’re comfortable.
4. Create a Housewarming Gift Registry
Mistake: At times, my desire to be a gracious host gets the best of me. When it came to housewarming gifts, I wanted to be appreciative of whatever my guests chose to give me. It’s the thought that counts, right? That sentiment is fine if you have no qualms with receiving mismatched and duplicate home decor items that are a hassle to return because not everyone remembers to provide gift receipts.
Lesson: After opening my third abstract vase and 5th home decor piece that did not match my normcore color palette, I learned an important lesson - always use a gift registry. Utilizing a gift registry for something other than a wedding or baby shower may feel over the top, but it’s actually quite the opposite. Your guests will appreciate your direction when it’s time to purchase your housewarming gift. Imagine all the stress and guessing games you’re saving your guests from suffering through! Most of my attendees later told me they would have preferred a gift registry to choose from rather than stress out about if I would like their selection.
Hosting my very first housewarming party was, ultimately, a valuable lesson in preparation and hosting. While it didn’t go as smoothly as I had imagined, it did teach me what not to do when I move into my next place. All in all, what mattered was that I was able to celebrate a new chapter with my close friends. However, if I had known these housewarming party ideas and tips beforehand, I could have celebrated for much less money and hassle.