Throwing a housewarming party is the perfect way to entertain guests and show off your new home. Before you start planning a guest list and scrambling for party favors, take some time to brush up on housewarming etiquette.

The same goes for attending a housewarming party. Before showing up on the doorstep, you’ll need to consider partygoer best practices. 

Whether you’re a new homeowner or a friend of one, don’t sweat. We’ve compiled a list of 12 housewarming party rules to make you a superstar guest or a gracious host.

Housewarming Rules For Hosts and Guests

The following sections will provide tips for throwing and attending housewarming parties. We’ll review scheduling, gifting, and behavior etiquette rules so you can put your best foot forward.

If You’re Throwing the Party

Get Settled First

Moving into a new home is undoubtedly stressful. You’ll probably be exhausted after transporting your belongings to the new space and attempting to keep box after box organized.

That said, don’t rush to throw a housewarming party just for the sake of it.

You don’t have to do all your unpacking, but at least try to get settled before you have guests. The party’s goal is to welcome people into your brand-new home, not give them a tour around mounds of boxes and knickknacks. 

You don’t have to complete your home renovation projects before the party either. If you still have boxes to unpack, we suggest moving them to a room you plan to renovate and closing that door during the gathering. 

Guests will understand that the house is a work in progress.

Send Invites in Advance

Send party invitations at least two weeks in advance. 

This time frame allows guests to check their schedules and plan accordingly. Plus, you’ll need time to tally RSVPs, plan refreshments, and continue setting up the house.

Before sending out invites, prepare a guest list with the friends, family members, and coworkers you want to invite. Consider inviting your new neighbors to the celebration to build rapport and start new relationships on the right foot.

It’s OK if you keep the guest list to close friends and family; just make sure you have an organized list. We suggest a spreadsheet to mark off RSVPs, cancellations, and notes in the weeks leading up to the party. Simplify the RSVP process by requesting text messages or emails instead of phone calls or physical responses. 

If you plan to go completely digital, try an online party planning platform like Paperless Post. These services allow you to send out digital invitations where guests can click an “RSVP” button to tally their responses automatically.

Decorate Tastefully

Decorating for a get-together is part of the fun for any host.

Many parties, like birthdays, baby showers, or holiday celebrations, have specific themes that attire, refreshments, and decor fulfill. However, a housewarming party is a perfect occasion to keep party decorations to a minimum.

The point of the gathering is for guests to marvel at your brand-new home and not be overwhelmed with streamers, balloons, and confetti. We suggest keeping decorations tasteful to accentuate rather than overpower your new space.

You won’t want to deal with the clutter of leftover decorations, either – so it’s best to keep things simple.

Some balloons near the mailbox or entryway will welcome guests to the party with a festive flair. Embellish your refreshment table or party favor station with a fun banner for an understated yet lovely decoration.

Serve Refreshments

You should serve refreshments to your housewarming party guests. Food and drinks are perfect for welcoming old and new friends into your home and thanking them for visiting.

Whether you’re a gourmet chef or can’t get water to boil, refreshments are a must. But don’t sweat – there are many excellent ways to serve food at your party.

The most popular choice for housewarming party refreshments is an appetizer table. This option involves spreading finger foods and hors d’oeuvres for your guests to enjoy. If you opt for a refreshment table, try to include a good variety of foods with dietary restrictions in mind.

If you don’t like the idea of providing all the food yourself, host a housewarming potluck. A potluck is a fantastic way to unite people and fill your new home with wholesome fun. Just be sure to clearly state the plan on invitations so that each guest knows to bring a dish.

Then, thank your visitors by preparing your own dishes and serving delicious seasonal cocktails or punch.

A dinner party is the last, more formal option for housewarming refreshments.

This option involves celebrating with your guests over a sit-down meal. Prepare and serve multiple courses for a formal dinner party that ends with coffee and dessert. Consider providing a buffet-style feast with locally catered food for a more casual dinner party.

Lead House Tours

You’re throwing a housewarming party to show off your new digs. Lucky for you, guests will probably arrive expecting a tour of the house. 

Once everyone has full bellies and cocktails in hand, rally your visitors for a room-by-room tour. This is a great way to engage your guests, show off your house, and make everyone feel comfortable in the space.

Be ready to answer questions about your furniture choices, paint jobs, and what you plan to do with unfurnished rooms.

If you’d prefer guests to explore the home by themselves, make this clear in a friendly, casual manner. Kick off the festivities by saying, “Feel free to look around! I’d love for you all to see the house. I haven’t finished unpacking, so excuse any boxes.”

Provide Party Favors

Before including a gift registry link on your invitation, remember that it’s a housewarming party – not a shower. For this reason, we suggest skipping a housewarming registry altogether. Registries are great for parties like baby showers and bridal showers, where the point is to provide useful items to the host. 

A housewarming party is designed to launch your new space with a cheerful social gathering. Plus, an official gift registry will make guests feel like they must spend money to attend the party.

Instead of requesting gifts from your visitors, thank them for visiting with a party favor. Housewarming party favors are excellent ways to thank your guests and send them off with tokens of appreciation.

Provide practical party favors that your guests won’t throw away as soon as they get home. We suggest filling gift bags with homemade goodies or preparing a tray of miniature candles visitors can grab on their way out.

Send Thank You Notes

Even if you skip a registry and articulate that presents aren’t expected, many of your guests will still show up bearing gifts. Just as forgoing a registry is housewarming party host etiquette, bringing a gift is attendee etiquette. 

For this reason, you’ll probably wrap up the celebration with a few new belongings. Remember to thank visitors for their gifts. As evident as this rule is, it’s easy to forget when you’re entertaining guests, refilling drinks, and providing house tours. 

Stash the gifts in a closed room or on a gift table to open later. Avoid opening presents during the party, as this may make empty-handed guests feel poorly for not bringing anything.

Open your gifts after the party ends, and visitors have cleared. As you go through presents, carefully list who brought which gift. Then, send out “Thank You” notes within the week after the gathering. Personalize the notes by thanking each guest for the specific gift they brought and stating how it will help you in your new chapter.

If You’re Attending the Party

RSVP Promptly 

Promptly responding to a housewarming party invitation is the first step to proper etiquette. 

By RSVPing on time, you’re allowing the host more time to plan accordingly. If you wait until the last minute to respond or don’t respond at all, you’re leaving the host with a guessing game of how much food to buy and how many people to expect.

Communication is vital for party planning. Let the homeowner know if something comes up after you’ve RSVP’d to the event. Don’t ghost them or just not show up. If they’re close friends or family members, consider sending a gift by mail or dropping one off another day. 

Show Up Fashionably Late

Yes — you read this rule correctly. Showing up a little late to a housewarming party is actually the polite thing to do. 

Don’t skip half the party or show up for the last 30 minutes, but arriving 15 minutes after the established start time is completely acceptable.

If you’ve ever thrown a party, you know the hour before it can be incredibly stressful. You’re rushing to put last-minute touches on the space and ensure refreshments are ready. The last thing you want is for guests to arrive early. 

We suggest arriving a few minutes after the start time to give the host some preparation wiggle room. You’ll hopefully arrive with other guests running late and won’t have to stand around awkwardly.

Bring a Functional Gift

You should generally avoid showing up to a housewarming party empty-handed. If the homeowner states explicitly they wouldn’t like gifts, then skipping the present is probably OK. Otherwise, you’ll want to bring something along. 

Luckily for your wallet, you can give the host a token of gratitude without blowing your budget. 

A housewarming gift should be a functional item the homeowner can use. They’re probably already overwhelmed with things to unpack and organize, so adding trinkets and knickknacks to that collection isn’t advisable. 

Bring a small gift the homeowner can use to enhance, improve, and enjoy their new home. We suggest choosing a nice bottle of wine or a gift card to a home improvement store or popular retailer. These gift ideas are practical, thoughtful, and won’t clutter the home.

Avoid Self-Guided Tours

One of the most exciting parts of a housewarming party is seeing your friend’s new digs. You look forward to seeing their decor choices, home improvements, and brand-new property. 

However, you should avoid going on a self-guided tour of the home. As tempted as you may be to explore, this is lousy party etiquette. The host probably won’t appreciate people snooping around in unfinished rooms and storage spaces.

Once you’ve arrived at the party, greeted the host, and grabbed a plate of refreshments, stay in the common area and socialize. If you’re eager to explore, politely ask the host to show you around. They’ll likely be grateful you asked and launch into an enthusiastic tour. Otherwise, wait for the host to initiate a house tour and follow along from there.

On the other hand, some hosts may invite visitors to look around the home independently. In this case – go for it, but ask permission before entering closed-off rooms.

Offer Compliments

Perhaps the most important rule of attending a housewarming party is complimenting the host’s new home. This tip may seem obvious, but it’s crucial to housewarming etiquette.

The party may be the first time the homeowner has hosted guests, and they’re likely nervous about what visitors will think of the space. By complimenting the host, you’re expressing excitement about their new life chapter and accomplishment. Plus, you’ll flatter them by noticing a special decor touch or beloved furniture piece.

You don’t have to gush the entire time, but an encouraging, genuine compliment will surely please the homeowner and ease their nerves.

Final Thoughts

We hope this article gives you top-notch tips for housewarming party etiquette. Whether you’re showing off your new property or celebrating a friend’s home purchase, you can do so with style and good manners.

Remember that gifts and refreshments aside, the most important things you can do are to be gracious, complimentary, and well-behaved. With these things in mind, a successful housewarming party will indeed transform a new house into a beloved home.

Editorial Contributors
Elisabeth Beauchamp

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Senior Staff Writer

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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