If you recently closed on a new house, condo, or townhome, you probably started house hunting months ago. And with the average mortgage taking 30+ days from application to closing — you undoubtedly kicked things off in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s so baller.
So, congratulations on moving forward and moving in. Now it’s time to have the obligatory housewarming party, which typically involves inviting people over to physically see the place. You feed them. They ooh and ahh. And you probably end up with a few new scented candles as welcome gifts.
Unfortunately, hosting a housewarming in 2020 is probably going to be harder to pull off. To help, we’ve cooked up a few ideas of how to hold a pandemic-era housewarming party.
The basics: Safety first
Anything that you do during the COVID-19 pandemic should follow some simple rules. You know the ones: wash your hands a lot, wear a mask in public, wear gloves if you’re likely to touch something that others might touch and maintain social distancing of at least six feet from people you don’t share a home with.
That last one makes a housewarming party nearly impossible, especially when we’re talking about a gathering where guests are eating, drinking and laughing together. But please keep these safety measures in mind as you read on.
IDEA #1: The Zoom Call
If we suggested having a housewarming party via Zoom just six months ago, our editors would have thought we were crazy. Today, not so much. Zoom calls are old-hat at this point, even as locked-down cities and states have started re-opening, causing Zoom calls to become less frequent.
But we still sort of like Zoom calls. They gave us a chance to stay close with people we couldn’t see in person. The same can be true for your housewarming event.
This idea starts by creating a room-to-room video tour of your home, showing what your place looks like and highlighting why you’re so excited to be living there. Email the video to friends and family and invite them to join you via Zoom for a viral housewarming.
If you keep the gathering small and set it up for a few weeks out, consider shipping a favorite bottle of wine to each invitee who RSVPs. That way, everyone can share the same drink as you chat away. If your invite list is slightly bigger, send a unique cocktail recipe in advance, maybe naming it after your new street address.
Since you’ll be live on Zoom, offer an encore home tour if people want to get a closer look. And be prepared for attendees who may ask what you need for the house. Having a shortlist of easily shippable and inexpensive items like kitchen towels or guest soaps can keep the conversation moving.
IDEA #2: The Housewarming Week
In some states, small gatherings of up to 25 are being allowed, but we understand that personal preferences may have you reluctant to have that many people in your home at one time.
So, in the vein of Rivals Week, Fleet Week and Shark Week, we’re introducing Housewarming Week. Schedule small family groups to drop by for a quickie tour of your home at different intervals. This way, you’re not dealing with a large party-like atmosphere in an indoor space, but you’re still allowing important friends and family to safely check out your new digs.
For each small group, provide disposable face masks at the door. If you’re feeling really creative, get some printed with your address ahead of time. And keep pump bottles of antibacterial gel or pocket-sized hand sanitizer in various places throughout the house, like in bathrooms and on kitchen counters.
To make visitors more comfortable, put off Housewarming Week until you’re completely unpacked and have done a thorough cleaning and decorating. Leave room doors ajar, so there’s no need to touch doorknobs and light switches. After a short look around, some quick nibbles (on paper plates, natch), and a toast (or two), let your friends know that you have to wipe down the house before the next group arrives.
The entire thing could take less than a half-hour. And if you hosted just two a day, your housewarming party could be complete by the end of the week.
Safety Tip: Nobody likes cleaning up after a party, even pre-COVID. To avoid touching and washing glasses, plates, and utensils used by others, we suggest going with biodegradable paper products that are fully recyclable. Some new ones are fully compostable in approximately 50-100 days!
IDEA #3: Take It Outside
For some, a party isn’t a party unless it’s a BIG party. We get it. But we also understand that now is not the time to have a large gathering indoors. It’s just not 100% safe. But that doesn’t mean you still can’t hold a wonderful housewarming party. Just do it outside.
If you have a yard, set up separate stations for barbecuing, for drinks, and for families and friends to keep at a safe distance but still be close enough to be able to chat and hang out. You could even have a local restaurant cater it with takeout that you know everyone will love. They could certainly use the business, and it’s an excellent way for you to get to know local business owners. For entertainment, you can’t get better at social distancing than having a cornhole tournament.
Throughout the party, you can invite each family to take a private stroll through your new digs. For extra safety, be sure to provide rubber gloves and disposable face masks. Once again, having hand sanitizers in bathrooms on countertops will reinforce the message that you want them to see the home, but you want them to remain healthy.
IDEA #4: Neighborhood-Warming Party
If your new home is without outdoor space, consider showing off your neighborhood instead; after all, the community must’ve played a big factor in why you bought where you did. We think having your housewarming event in a nearby park or public space is a great idea. Plus, COVID provides an excellent excuse to avoid cooking and schlepping picnic gear and go with a universal favorite: pizza!
Afterwards, mask up and stretch your legs by taking a group walk through the neighboring streets. It’s a great way for friends and family to get a sense of why you moved here in the first place.
Lastly: The Home Stretch
Instead of accepting housewarming gifts, tell your guests you plan to make a donation to a local charity providing much-needed medical supplies to hospitals, health facilities and frontline workers serving your new neighborhood. Ask if they would like to contribute in lieu of housewarming gifts. That’s a trend we love to see take off.
And then, when the health risks are over, plan to hold a proper get-together, remembering that you were creative enough to find a way to celebrate the purchase of your new home during a global pandemic.