Slowly but surely, things are starting to look lighter and brighter. People are getting vaccinated, things are opening up, restrictions are lifting, and we’re all starting to stretch our wings a little bit in the shadow of COVID-19.
If you bought a house recently, you’re probably wondering how to throw a housewarming party in the shadow of a global pandemic. Perhaps you purchased your dream home during lockdown and passed on the party altogether. Now’s the time to host a delayed celebration for this momentous milestone! The big question is, how can you keep your guests feeling comfortable while still having a housewarming party that warms your heart — and your guests’ hearts too?
That is the mission. We rallied the experts to craft this creme de la creme guide, seeking the best tips out there for how to throw a post-ish pandemic housewarming party, including proper etiquette through the lens of what’s happening now. Let’s take a look at how these traditional events are taking shape as our global pandemic slows and safety guidelines shift. Sip, savor, and enjoy!
A quick look at the history of housewarming parties
What better place to start than right at the beginning? Housewarming parties are a centuries-old tradition. In medieval times, guests came to start fires in their friends’ fireplaces to literally warm their new homes. Guests would even leave firewood as gifts for their hosts (but you might not want to use this as an excuse to pass on the blender or the glassware gifts here in the 21st century, folks; your host may not think it’s cute).
Countries and cultures throughout the world have their own traditions. For example, the French have a charming tradition called “pendaison de cremaillere,” which loosely translates to “hanging of the chimney hook.” In medieval times, when someone finished building a house, it was customary to invite all the people who helped build it to share a meal in the new home. At that time, people cooked with a pot in the fireplace, and they used a chimney hook to hang the pot closer to the flames. This hook was traditionally the last thing installed and marked the official end of construction and the start of the housewarming party.
While the French people still use the phrase pendaison de cremaillere to throw a housewarming party, they usually just share a meal and have a classic dinner party.
The key to your pandemic-era housewarming party
Now that we’ve knocked the history lesson out of the park, it’s time to get serious about the most important things to know when you throw a housewarming party in the shadow of COVID-19.
What is the key to a successful party these days? Safety.
Andrea Swetland, a top HomeLight real estate agent in the San Francisco area advises, if you’re having a housewarming party “your guests could be very COVID-relaxed while others could be very COVID-cautious.” She recommends “finding the right balance of being safe while still making it fun.”
More than ever before, as you take the first steps to planning your housewarming party it’s important to think about other people’s comfort levels and be mindful of safety precautions. While an increasing number of people are getting vaccinated, some still want to remain socially distanced and wear masks, whereas others feel more at ease with social gatherings and physical proximity sans masks. You know the saying about no two snowflakes being alike? (It’s true, by the way!) You can’t assume all of your guests will feel exactly the same in terms of health, hygiene, and safety. Helping everyone feel at ease should be at the forefront of your planning.
That starts with your guest list. Amber Sanders, Chicago events planner and owner of Events with Ambiance, highlights that an important step when you throw a housewarming party today is deciding who to include. “The first thing to think about is the number of guests you’re planning to invite, have they all been vaccinated and the safety precautions you should take like extra hand sanitizers, individually wrapped serving utensils for guests, or socially distanced seating, if necessary,” she says.
The guest count matters. While some may feel comfortable being surrounded by a crowd of 20 people indoors, others may feel safe when there are only a small handful of others present. Being intentional with your guest list, as well as being transparent with your guests about the headcount, will help everyone feel more relaxed as they know precisely what to expect.
Sanders further illuminates,”we are no longer living in a world of the need to invite everyone we know to celebrate, but rather the people who mean the most to us and our lives.”
Planning your housewarming party
When you’re planning a housewarming party you can rely on a few key tried-and-true steps:
- Set the date
- Make the guest list
- Choose a theme — or don’t!
- Send invites
- Plan the menu
- Keep it simple
Doesn’t that last point sound like a breath of fresh air? Ahhh. Keep it simple. In our current times there are a few more considerations you may want to add to the standard list. While things may not be quite as simple as they used to be, these added touches are easy to pull off so there’s no need for stress.
COVID-19 housewarming party twists
Sometimes a party needs a good ol’ switcheroo. While COVID-19 may have meant we needed to cancel and postpone many social gatherings and events, we are not precisely “back to normal” yet. In the post-ish pandemic party planning scene, it’s a good idea to consider what we like to call “COVID-19 twists.”
We put our heads together and came up with our top recommendations to mix safety and fun into a cutting-edge cocktail of awesomeness. Trust us. We know your housewarming party is going to be amazing.
Consider adding a virtual component
Virtual meetings and happy hours might have dominated your calendar in the past year, but there are a lot of benefits to having a virtual component to your housewarming party. If certain family members or friends are not comfortable being at social gatherings yet, then dedicating a slot of time at your party to those who want to join in online is a great addition to your agenda.
Maybe the virtual portion occurs an hour or two before any in-person guests arrive, or maybe it’s a 30-minute Zoom call that includes all the guests waving at the on-screen partygoers, paired with a walkthrough of your new home. Moreover, this online element works well for out-of-town guests who can’t travel. Adding a virtual component means that no one feels left out of the festivities!
Entertain in shifts to reduce the number of guests
If you or your guests are concerned with the sheer number of people you want to attend, then it may be best to reduce the number of guests. This doesn’t mean un-inviting people. Rather, consider entertaining them in shifts. If you want to have family members come over in the early afternoon, friends in the mid-afternoon, and coworkers and neighbors in the early evening, this can help keep others from feeling overwhelmed. While this may add a little more planning and juggling to your plate, this could be a great option if there are a lot of people you want to invite, but you have a feeling that a big crowd is just too much for comfort.
Limit house tours to a few people at a time
Given the pandemic and the latest guidelines set forth by global scientific leaders in health and safety, hosting events outdoors is highly encouraged. The Mayo Clinic also reminds us that being outside can give you an emotional boost. Plus, you can get your fill of vitamin D. Yay for the benefits of nature!
So if your new digs have a backyard, garden, patio, or deck, you can make great use of those wonderful outdoor spaces, and consider limiting your house tours to a few people at a time. While you may not want a small horde of people to be trotting behind you from room to room, it’s nice to just show two or three people at a time your new home, to allow for better conversations and, to be honest, a lot more compliments!
Housewarming etiquette is evolving
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention that the pandemic and current overall trends have prompted some housewarming etiquette changes, Little Miss Manners and Little Mister Manners. Hey — everyone should be polite, right?
As Swetland attests, “Before [the pandemic] if you got invited to a housewarming party, whether you went or didn’t, it wasn’t a big deal. Or, you could drop in at any time — it was more of an open, fluid situation. Now, I think people are much more specific about wanting to know who is coming so that they can prepare and plan for them. So, that etiquette has changed.”
Kindly request that your guests RSVP at least three to five days prior to your housewarming party. This will help you shop, prepare food, and inform the other guests about the number of attendees.
Creating a gift registry is still the norm for celebrating weddings and baby showers, but these days it’s no longer in vogue to create a registry for your housewarming party. “Most of my clients, when they are thinking about having a housewarming party, it’s more about being able to just spend a little celebration time with people they haven’t seen in a long time,” Swetland says.
“The housewarming is more about the human connection, less about people coming over and bringing you something for the house.”
Be gone, buffets!
While buffets certainly make sharing meals or snacks very easy from a hosting perspective, it’s still important to consider food safety and hygiene. Everyone shoving their hands into a big bag of chips will likely raise some eyebrows. Keep things classy, folks! Set out single-serve bowls of food or snacks on each table, or consider how else you could best individualize food portions so people won’t feel like too much cross-contamination is happening. Bye-bye buffets and big bowls of finger foods.
Are you ready to rock your housewarming party?
Now that you have all the best tips, tricks, and guidance on how to throw a safe and fun housewarming party in the wake of COVID19, we know you’ll enjoy commemorating this momentous milestone in your life! Whether you moved into your house last week or eight months ago, you deserve to celebrate.
“Honestly, the icing on the cake is that we are finally able to gather socially again and celebrate life’s milestones!” Sanders says. “After the tumultuous year we’ve had, hosts shouldn’t feel they have to go over the top with a housewarming party — as long as you have good food, good drinks, and good company the party will be a success!”
Header Image Source: (tabitha turner / Unsplash)