How to Throw a Housewarming So Good You’ll (Almost) Want to Move Again

In partnership with EQ3.

Moving is a lot like getting a cavity filled in that both experiences beg a pressing question: How is it 2019 and we still don’t have a better way of doing this? From the lease signing that’s (for reasons unknown) 45 minutes away from where you’re actually moving, to the reminder your arms have a combined strength comparable to barely-set jello, to that one box of junk you know will never get unpacked—if it weren’t for the joy of housewarmings, I’d be genuinely surprised if anybody ever moved again.

Housewarmings—those are perfect. (Evidenced by the fact that zero dentistry metaphors come to mind.) These parties exist without the expectations of holiday hosting (a turkey? I just moved!) and the rollercoaster of emotions that seem to come with birthdays. They’re one-night-only celebrations that can transform a blank space into one that’s overflowing with top-shelf quality memories, perfected by the slightly blurred haze that only three cups of spiked mulled cider can accurately cultivate.

That said, every party worth its Polaroids requires work, and housewarmings—held in new spaces, where it’s likely not everybody will know each other—can require more babysitting than your regular in-home shindig. So, below are eight housewarming tips covering everything from food to mood lighting to gentle conversation coercion, sprinkled with some product recommendations from dreamy furniture and home goods store EQ3.

1. Dress Your Table Just as Thoughtfully as You’d Dress Yourself for School Picture Day

There aren’t many things in this life that are more satisfying than getting an outfit Goldilocks-level Just Right—but setting a table with the same thoughtfulness you might devote to positioning your butterfly clips just so circa second grade can feel just as good. Speaking of second grade, napkin layering is a subject I wish I’d studied in school, but no one’s called me out on my self-taught methodology yet: Invest in two sets of napkins in complementary colors, laying one flat as a placemat and folding the other under your utensils. Add plates, bowls, and vases (as long as they’re politely below eye-level) in a matching color to your napkins, then take a step back, snack on a rogue baby carrot, and allow at least 25 minutes to admire your work before any guests arrive.

2. Forget That Ceiling Lights Even Exist. What ARE Ceiling Lights, Even? (<– Good Job)

When it comes to parties—dinner parties, dance parties, Tupperware parties—good lighting is the key to success. Pretend your ceiling bulbs are all blown for the night and light your whole home with soft and glowy lamps and candles (kept somewhere they’re not likely to be knocked by a rouge elbow, please) sort of like you’re a mystical fairy and your home is a woodland grotto. Nobody wants to feel like they’re drinking or dancing inside a mall changing room when they’re at a housewarming, so keep the lights down lowwwww.

3. Sprinkle Snacks Around Your Space to Inspire Maximum Moth Mingling (Don’t Worry, I’ll Explain)

Like moths to a cracker-shaped flame (see what I did there?), people will always hang out near the snacks. With that in mind, seize the opportunity to treat your guests like moths–i.e. the more designated food areas, the better. While your first instinct may be to create a snack HQ in one spot, leaving plates and trays of bite-sized snacks in a few different areas on living room consoles or side tables, like this solid teak stool, will help spread out the crowd. Anything can be a snack table if you believe!!!

4. Do Everything You Can to Make It Look Like You Didn’t Actually Just Move In

Okay, sure, you may have literally just gotten your keys—but you don’t want it to look and feel that way. Aurea Sanabria Molaei, Founder & Creative Director at Flower Bodega recommends taking the time to steam new curtains and let your rugs properly unroll before have anyone over–essentially the home decor version of “I woke up like this.” No need to strive for unrealistic levels of perfection, though–leaving books and throws where you last put them down instead of tidying everything away will also make your place look comfortably lived in. Bless your *slightly curated* mess.

5. Rearrange Your Furniture to Trick People Into Having Intimate Convos

Similar to the pain of being seated at the end of a long table in a noisy restaurant, being stuck on the outskirts of a riveting party conversation because you’re at one end of a long couch sucks. If you have a sectional, like the Lane sectional, angle your sections inward or bring other pieces of furniture, like this Chiara lounge chair, in close, so a few small conversations can happen at once and everyone can have a comfy seat to sink into while they gossip/flirt/vent/practice for their upcoming stand-up gig. This setup is basically a future group chat waiting to happen.

6. Set Up a Bar, So People Can Serve Their Own Drinks All Night Long

Getting a drink for your guests is a great thing to do when they first arrive, but after that the real MVHP (Most Valuable Houseparty Player) move is to give them the power to serve themselves. Even if this just means leaving glasses and a few bottles of wine on a bar cart or side table, you will get maximum appreciation from your guests. They’ll be cha-cha-ing martini shakers and grating lemon zest faster than you can say pass me that paper towel roll you guys are animals in a good way.

7. Stick to Light-Colored Drinks If You Don’t Exactly Trust the Dexterity of Most of Your Friends (I’m Looking at You, Samantha)

Everyone either has—or is—the animated friend who can’t possibly tell a story without a flick of the wrist and wave of the hand. These friends, and those who constantly have a cracked phone screen, are who you should be keeping in mind when stocking your bar. Prosecco, orange wine, and gin or vodka cocktails are excellent carpet- and white-couch-friendly options. If you’re set on serving reds and dark liquor, it pays to have an extra bottle of club soda stashed away in case of (carpet) emergency.

8. Tell Everyone in Your Favorite Group Chat to Arrive Half an Hour Early

First impressions matter: at work, when dating, and—most! importantly!—at parties. Task a trusted core group with coming by early, so your home is adequately warmed before the majority of your guests arrive, like the human equivalent of a chocolate chip cookie aroma wafting from the kitchen. Bonus tip: If you’re stressed about people staying well past their welcome at the end of the night, include both a start and finish time on your invitation. I can’t promise you people will adhere to it, but at least you will know you tried your best. (But also, best of luck getting anybody to leave your perfectly planned and executed party hehehe).

Photos by Louisa Wells.

Gyan Yankovich

Gyan Yankovich is the Managing Editor at Man Repeller.

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