The Checklist for Planning a House Warming Party

by Kate Bradley

You've just moved into your new home, and it's time for a party to show off the new digs to all your friends. With all the unpacking and decorating, however, it can be a challenge to sort out the party details. What you need is a housewarming party checklist -- a step-by-step guide to addressing every detail of what will be a wonderful, memorable party.

Outline the Party

Set a budget right away and stick to it -- throwing a party you can't afford will only stress you out. Next, determine the kind of party you want to have. Should it be stylish and low-key or loud and colorful? Check out the calendar and pick at least three potential party dates. Then assess your home -- how many people can you comfortably entertain? Is it better to hold the party in the back yard? Brainstorm party activities besides eating and drinking. Make a shopping list of decorative items and any supplies you'll need, such as disposable cutlery or plates.

Plan the Menu

Your menu should reflect the tone of your party. If you want everyone relaxed and casual, stick to foods that are easy to eat and don't require utensils, such as tiny sandwiches or chips and dip. For a more sophisticated event, try top-shelf items like crab claws or steak. Serve appetizers that can be eaten quickly, such as crackers or cubed cheese. For dessert, offer a few options; for example, cookies, ice cream and two kinds of cake. If you plan to serve cocktails, stock up on mixers. Provide a little variety, but don't drive yourself crazy playing bartender; choose three or four "signature" drinks for guests to choose from. Serve soft drinks for non-drinkers, and keep plenty of ice on hand.

Choose the Guests

Make your guest list early and avoid making last-minute changes -- you can throw off your budget and available space with too many late additions. Remember that friends may have significant others they wish to bring. Start with close friends, then move to family. Stop when you reach about two-thirds of your allotted guest count, then start on professional and casual acquaintances. Leave a few slots for unexpected guests. Print and mail your invitations at least six weeks before the party, and include an RSVP deadline.

Arrange Entertainment

You don't need to hire entertainment for your party, but if you do, do it early. Research and reserve local bands or DJs well in advance. If you're renting entertainment equipment, such as a karaoke machine, determine its spot in your home before you pick it up. If you're playing party games, check that you have all the necessary supplies. If there will be dancing, designate the "dance floor" before the party so moving furniture will go smoothly.

Prepare Your Home

Party guests will expect a tour of your new home, so make sure you wow them with a spotless, well-decorated domicile. Hire a professional cleaning service to clean your home a few days before the party, which allows time for chemical smells to fade. During the party, open all the doors and label each room. If you've done some renovations since purchasing the home, you can put up a "before" and "after" photo on the appropriate door. For the party, your home doesn't need to look lived-in; it needs to look showroom-ready.

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