How to throw a housewarming party

Show your friends, family and neighbors a great time without a ton of stress

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Where are you moving to?

people enjoying a party in the backyard of a home

You’ve finally done the hard work of moving, and now you want to show off your new home to your friends and family. Throwing a housewarming party can be a great way to celebrate your new home with those closest to you and give you an opportunity to meet your new neighbors. If party planning seems like a stressful task, read these tips to maximize your success for a fun and fulfilling event.

Key insights

Wait to plan a housewarming party until after you’ve settled into your new place. You’ll feel more comfortable inviting others in when you’ve had time to decorate how you want.

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Select a party theme that can help drive the decisions for food and decor.

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Create a budget for the event and stick to it. It will help you avoid the temptation to overspend.

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Consider asking a friend for help during and after the party. You’ll need help refilling food and drink stations throughout the event. And you’ll also need someone to oversee the event while you give your guests house tours.

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When to throw a housewarming party

You may be eager to celebrate your arrival to your new home and want to start planning a party immediately. However, remember that moving will be exhausting and stressful enough. You may not want to create more stress and add party planning to your plate until you are settled.

Also, there’s no set deadline or template for when to throw a housewarming party. You can wait three months, six months or longer if that’s the time it takes to get unpacked and comfortable in your new place.

As you consider a timeline that works for you, think about what type of party you want to have and the atmosphere you want to create. For instance, do you prefer to show off your new home when it’s fully decorated? If so, it may take a few months to add decor that fits your style. Another consideration may be the season and whether you want the party to be mainly indoors or outdoors.

How to plan it

It’s smart to begin planning by deciding what type of party you want to have and what the theme will be. The theme can help guide many of your decisions for the menu, decor and more. Ashley Boykin, the owner and lead wedding planner at Social Conceptions, a North Carolina-based event planning company, told us that when it comes to planning a party, “Choose a theme that reflects your personality and the vibe you want for your home.”

Also, consider the home’s layout when selecting a theme. For example, does your new place have a spacious backyard? If so, an outdoor barbecue in the warmer months may be ideal. Or, if you have an open floor plan where guests can congregate and socialize easily, you may want to have a cocktail or dinner party.

Once you’ve decided on the theme, you can nail down a date and time for the party. Keep in mind that a housewarming party could be floating, which means guests can arrive anytime between a set start and end time. However, if you’re serving a full meal, you may want to make guests aware of when food will be served on the invite.

Finally, make a realistic budget for the party. This budget should include a set limit for all expenses (how much total you want to spend) and cost estimates for each expense category. Some examples of party expense categories could be food, drinks, decor and entertainment (e.g., hiring a DJ or purchasing backyard games). A budget is helpful in avoiding overspending on a single event, especially after incurring moving expenses.

Who to invite

The invite list is really up to you. You can keep the party small and intimate by inviting family and close friends. Or you can make it a big social event by including your neighbors and co-workers as well. Inviting others into your home can be a great way to get to know them.

Keep in mind that you’ll want to invite the number of people who can comfortably move about in your space. Plan on guests bringing their spouses or another guest to the party, too. You may need to clearly state on the invitation whether children are invited as well. When you send out invites, do so at least three weeks in advance and include directions.

Most importantly, consider your budget and how many guests you can reasonably afford to feed and serve drinks. If you plan to have the event catered, your catering company may give you a cost per person in the quote, so it’s best to have a rough estimate of the guest count before researching food costs.

Menu and decor

Unless you want to go all out, it may be a good idea to keep food and decor relatively simple. As far as the menu goes, Boykin of Social Conceptions suggests “a mix of appetizers, finger foods, and drinks to accommodate different tastes.” Think charcuterie boards, vegetable trays and sandwiches. Smaller portions tend to be easier to eat while standing and socializing.

Don’t forget the beverages too. Emily Coyne, the founder of Emily Coyne Events, offered this tip: “Plan a welcome beverage that will be easy to quickly get into guests' hands when they arrive. This can be as simple as an ice bucket with champagne or sparkling wine … or as elaborate as a fun batched cocktail.”

If you plan on offering mixed cocktails, Coyne suggests premixing the beverages — “and have ice and garnishes ready to go nearby.”

You don’t have to spend a lot of time and money on decorations. Boykin added, “Keep it simple yet stylish. Use fresh flowers, candles and tableware that complement your theme and the ambiance you want to create. Maximize space by setting up different food and drink stations throughout your home or yard to encourage mingling and exploration.”

Use fresh flowers, candles and tableware that complement your theme and the ambiance you want to create. Maximize space by setting up different food and drink stations throughout your home or yard to encourage mingling and exploration.”
— Ashley Boykin, owner, Social Conceptions

Monitor the drink and food stations

Ask a friend or family member to help monitor and refill the drink and food stations. As the host, you’ll want to use that time to give home tours and chat with your guests.

You may also consider hiring someone to work the event. They can assist you with serving food and drinks and helping clean up afterward. Even having a bartender could be helpful if you plan on providing a variety of drink options — expect to pay rates of $30 to $60 an hour for their services.

Home tours

Be prepared to show off your new place to guests. In rooms that you’ve recently updated, you could consider setting out a table with pre- and post renovation pictures for guests to view.

If you haven’t done a renovation but are considering one, consider asking your guests for their input. You can ask guests for their ideas before you make changes to a room. They may be able to visualize something that will be useful to you.

They can also offer advice based on their experiences. For example, for potential kitchen renovations, you could distribute slips of paper to guests to fill out with a favorite feature in their own kitchens (e.g., pull-out spice racks, coffee bar area).


Games allow your guests to interact with each other in a fun and engaging way. Whether your party is indoors or outdoors, there are plenty of game options from which to choose. Also, you don’t have to spend a lot of money purchasing premade activities. Research DIY games that you can easily facilitate with games you already have. We’ve got some more ideas below.

Outdoor games

  • Cornhole
  • Wooden ladder ball
  • Limbo
  • Croquet
  • Ring toss
  • Badminton

Indoor games

  • Scavenger hunt to find clues hidden throughout the house
  • Memory games to see how many objects guests recall from each room
  • Pictionary
  • Charades
  • Trivia
  • Board games

Special activities for kids

Make sure you have something planned for kids, too, like a movie in the basement or a game outside. You could also set up a painting party outside with small canvases – just be sure parents know the plan ahead of time so they can dress their child in proper attire.

Alternatives to a typical housewarming party

If you're working with a tight budget, you can get creative and think outside the box when it comes to a housewarming party. For example, you could host a game night with close friends or a potluck party with neighbors.

We contacted Cassie LaMere, the owner of Cassie LaMere Events, who offered these alternatives to a typical housewarming party:

  • Stock the bar party: Ask guests to bring their favorite beverage to help you build your collection. “This is a great housewarming idea if your place has a smaller footprint,” LaMere says, “as it puts all the focus on the central gathering hub of the bar, which can be a bar cart, an island, or a vintage cabinet outfitted for entertaining.”
  • Charitable donation drive: A budget-friendly idea may be to have a donation drive. Select a charity that aligns with your values and ask guests to drop off donations at your new place. LaMere suggests serving coffee and pastries to guests, then “make one generous delivery at the end of the day to your local charity.”
  • Blessing ceremony: Your new place may not be move-in ready yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t welcome others into the space. LaMere suggests having a blessing ceremony for new construction or a home remodel. LaMere adds, “Provide colorful markers that invite friends and family to write a note of well-wishes or a blessing on the framing of your house, then toast with some bubbly to christen the location!”

Where are you moving to?


How do you throw a themed housewarming party?

Pick a theme that suits your style and research food and decor ideas based on that theme. Some simple themes you could choose from are a cookie decorating night, a painting party, a BBQ, a movie night or a game night.

How do you throw a housewarming party if you don’t have furniture yet or much furniture?

You don’t need furniture to still have a great party. You can set up folding chairs or bar stools and bridge tables with tablecloths in areas where guests may want to congregate and socialize, like near the food table.  Individually wrapped candies and small decor items can make a fun centerpiece. For an outdoor party, consider setting out picnic blankets or colorful towels for guests to sit on.

How much should I budget for a housewarming party?

Depending on the type of party you want to have, you could plan on spending between $500 and $1,000, according to Cassie LeMere, the owner of Cassie LaMere Events. This should “cover casual food, drinks, and flowers from a local market,” LaMere added.

Bottom line

You can decide what type of housewarming party you want to have – there isn’t a template for how it should be done. Just keep the party planning low-stress and make sure the theme fits with the vibe you want your home to have. And if a traditional housewarming party isn’t your style, consider other alternatives that will still allow you and your guests to celebrate your new place together.

» HAVEN’T MOVED YET? Find a mover

Article sources
ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:
  1. National Bartenders, “Hire a Bartender.” Accessed April 23, 2024.
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