A housewarming is supposed to be just that: a party to warm the house with friends and family so that a new place doesn’t seem, well, quite so new, unfamiliar and cold. It’s amazing how the “strangeness” of an environment is replaced with the feeling of “home” once we have spent a little time with our friends and family in our new space.
Naturally, it would make more sense to have your guest list for this party contain your closest friends and family in the area. Depending on how long you’ve lived in your area, this may be a very large group or a smaller, more intimate circle. This party is also a great way to invite new neighbors to get to know you a bit better and to establish yourself as a friendly and welcoming neighbor.
Often housewarmings are drop-in events, so when inviting people, it’s best to give a clear starting and ending time for the party. Close friends and family will often linger, whereas newer acquaintances will most likely pop in, get the tour, have some refreshment and be on their way.
Close friends and family, and even new acquaintances, will often bring a small gift. A plate of homemade cookies, a houseplant or some bulbs for the garden, a serving dish, or some candles are all typical housewarming gifts.
Here is an example of an invitation:
Come Warm Our New House!
Saturday, July 15, 2 to 6 p.m.
189 Margoliouth Road Bungalow ( Near t0 Stevens MRT)
RSVP by July 10, (+65) 98-199-199 Serene Chua
In regard to your second question about registries, we get asked this a lot. When it comes to getting married and having children, registries are a wonderful way for a couple or new parents to receive gifts that are useful and in line with their taste. For these events, we traditionally throw showers, specifically a party meant to shower the honorees with gifts for their new adventure in life. Wouldn’t it then make sense to register for housewarming gifts too? Not everyone gets married or has children, and if guests are going to bring gifts anyway, wouldn’t it be nice to get gifts that we actually want or need?
Yes, this is all true. However, the big difference is that getting married and having children are specific life events with very large and, in most cases, lifelong commitments. Although first-time home buyers may be quite committed to their house (and see this as a seminal moment), moving into a new place isn’t generally considered one of life’s milestones (many people, especially in their transient years, change residences regularly), so the party itself is about warming the space with presence, not presents.
It is also quite possible that you will be inviting new acquaintances (like neighbors to whom you may have only waved) to your housewarming, not just your nearest and dearest. You would never typically expect a new acquaintance to get you a gift, and if you register for gifts, you are essentially telling your guests that you expect them to bring one and that you have a list of what you want. Also, please avoid the idea of sending invitations with registry information to close friends and family, while sending invitations to new acquaintances without registry information.
This creates an imbalance in your guests’ expectations and could leave either type of guest feeling awkward. Although most guests will bring a gift to a housewarming, it’s likely to be something along the lines of a gift for a host or hostess — something simple.
Now if a relative or friend wants to give you something more substantial and asks you specifically what you would like, it’s fine to make a suggestion. “Cara, how kind of you! Jimmy and I could use a new coffee maker, as our old one is a relic from college, but honestly, anything you choose will be lovely!” Of course, if guests do bring gifts, be sure to thank them. If you don’t have a chance to open the presents in front of them, be sure to write a thank-you note.
All in all, it’s best to remember that a housewarming is not a shower, but it is the very best way to get to know some of your new neighbors and to make your new space feel more homey.
adapted from Lizzie Post.
Lizzie Post is co-host of the Awesome Etiquette podcast, and an author and spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute. She is a co-author of Emily Post’s Etiquette 18th edition, Emily Post’s Great Get-Togethers, The Etiquette Advantage in Business, and Emily Post’s Wedding Etiquette 6th edition.
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