Hosting an open house party is an excellent way to entertain a large group of people during a specified time on a more personal level.
Open houses allow your guests to come and go freely during designated times throughout the scheduled party time. Whether it is for a housewarming party, graduation party or holiday celebration, an open house is an easy way to spend time with all of your friends at the time that’s convenient for them.
Here’s some advice on how to pull off a flawless open house party that will leave your guests wanting to stay all night long.
Step 1: Plan Ahead for Your Open House Party
You don’t want to be busy running around trying to get things done while you’re trying to enjoy your party. You want the entire space to feel warm, inviting and effortless for both guests and you during the entire open house.
But how do you achieve this coveted party planning goal of hostess bliss? Simple. You plan ahead.
Let me be clear…this is the most important thing you can do to make sure you have a killer open house party.
It is extremely beneficial to complete as many tasks as you can as far in advance as is reasonably possible. They don’t call them planners for nothin’, right?
Create a detailed itinerary explaining everything that will be happening the day of the open house. Consider it your open house party checklist of everything that needs to be done beforehand.
You’ll need to decide on what activities will be taking place, set the menu and also set the guest list. This way you can know all the supplies and ingredients you will need to pick up from the store. You can cook some menu items days (if not weeks) in advance and then freeze it until the day of the party.
If you have hired a caterer, call ahead to confirm the time and date of the party and what food they’ll be bringing. You can ease some of your stress the day of the open house by creating a guest book so you don’t have to try and remember every person who came through your door and will have a tool to create your thank you notes after the party.
Step 2: Create your Open House Party Invites
Before you set the guest list, you’ll want to decide how many people you’d like to attend. (Be mindful to avoid overextending yourself by creating a scenario where you’re cooking dinner for 200+ people. If your party is that large hire a caterer instead.)
After you have decided who will make the cut, send out some attractive open house party invitations to your guests either by postal mail or electronically.
Be sure to give guests ample time to decide whether or not the can attend the party by sending out invites at least 4-6 weeks in advance. It’s also an important time to to play up the fact that it’s an open house—meaning that guests should not feel obligated to attend the party for the entire duration, but certainly can if they’d like. To that end, be certain to also state the start and end time the party will be held on the invitations. This will help guests fit your open house party into their busy schedules. Open house parties typically last about six (6) hours so that as many guests as possible can find a time to make an appearance.
★★ Open House Planning Tip ★★: To avoid a crowded rush of people showing up around the same time, consider posting a specific window of time on each invite of when it would be best to come, or scheduling equally appealing events during the entire open house party.
Step 3: Create an Open House Party Cleaning Plan
An open house really does mean just that—your home is open from top to bottom for guests to enjoy, investigate and explore. And that means your home must be clean from top to bottom as well, unless you are comfortable designating key areas as “off limits.”
Remember, part of the allure of an open house party is allowing guests to enjoy your home with you.
Prior to your guests’ arrival, thoroughly clean and organize your home so it feels warm and inviting. Begin the cleaning process about five (5) days in advance of the party, doing a little every day, to make it easier on you, the host.
Plan out what areas of the house you will clean each day, saving the kitchen for last because you will be cooking in this area numerous times throughout the week to prepare all of the food. If you are hosting a holiday open house, hang up some festive decorations, and regardless of the season, fresh flowers always say, “Come right on in friends.”
Step 4: Help Guests Help Themselves
With the large amount of people that will occupy your home, you may not be able to greet everyone at the door as you would normally.
Make it easy for the guests to help themselves by setting up self-service stations all throughout the house. Leave out coat racks and doormats for guests to take off their shoes and outerwear in winter months. Arrange the refreshments in a buffet-style line with stacks of plates and silverware in large, open containers at the end so guests don’t need to try and fumble with napkins and utensils while they add noshes to their plates. If necessary, set up a large table for guests to drop off their gifts.
You will also want to have plenty of seating throughout the house so you can arrange guests in small groups to facilitate lots of mingling. Everything should be self-explanatory once your guests walk through the door. You may even recruit a few close friends or family members who are familiar with the pattern to help newbies learn the ropes as they arrive, thus extending your hosting capabilities.
Step 5: Create your Open House Party Menu
Nine times out of ten the first place people go to when arriving at a party is the refreshments table. You’ll want to ensure that they are pleased when they get there.
Prepare simple foods that are easy to eat, can be cooked in large quantities and will be safe sitting out for several hours.
Barbecue, pasta and pizza are all super easy foods to prepare in large quantities, or you can also hire a professional caterer to prepare the food.
To help prevent clusters of people forming, place the drinks in another area away from the food. This will give guests a reason to see more of the house too, which is part of the pattern and pace you’re hoping to foster during your open house party—a true reason to mix and mingle.
★★ Open House Planning Tip ★★: Reduce unwanted plates and service items from piling up by placing several trash cans and recycling bins around the house that are easy to spot. This will expedite your post-party cleanup.
Step 6: Create an Entertaining Atmosphere
Since there will be so many people coming and going, organized games and activities are not generally recommended for open house parties.
Some soft background music can be a good way to create a casual atmosphere, or further elevate your party’s theme.
You can also consider creating a video slideshow that you air on your TV, particularly if many of the guests may know each other, you or the common thread of the party.
If there will be children at the open house party, it is wise to designate an area of the house with ample toys that will keep them happy and occupied.
Step 7: Don't Panic—Have Fun and Hire Helpers
If you’ve read this entire open house party planning list and are starting to have a panic attack about the work to be done, do not fret. We have you covered.
If you’d like some help planning your open house party, consider hiring a professional event planner to assist you. A professional event planner can advise you throughout the entire planning process from concept to execution and clean up.
Your work with them can be contained to the party itself, or it can be as broad as selecting the theme, date and time, picking the right party invitations, managing the guest list, setting the food and drink menu, adding decor, finalizing a playlist, adding entertainment ideas and helping you write the thank you notes after the party. Really the sky is the limit when you go with a pro.
JOIN THE PARTY!