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What Are the Best Tips for Throwing an Open House Party?

A homeowner may send out handwritten invitations to friends and family for an open house party.
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  • Written By: Dan Cavallari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2014
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An open house party is an informal type of gathering in which a house or space is open to guests who can come and go as they please over the course of a set period of time. Throwing an open house party is not exceptionally difficult, but it will take a bit of planning and forethought. Perhaps the most important considerations for such parties are invitations as well as food and drink: it will be necessary to provide enough food and drink for the amount of guests who are invited, regardless of how long the event lasts.

Invitations can be formal or informal, meaning the party organizer can have open house party card invitations printed and sent through the mail, or he or she can simply spread the word about the party by telling other friends. There are advantages and disadvantages to each method. Print invitations are more official and inviting, and guests are likely to feel more welcome to the party, but such invitations also cost more money and can take time to have printed up. Spreading the word about the party through word of mouth communication costs nothing, but it is not always reliable and information about the open house party is likely to get misconstrued by some guests.

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Food and drink will be one of the most significant investments of time and money for the open house party. It is a good idea to determine ahead of time what kind of refreshments will be served so a budget can be drawn up and preparations can be made. If print invitations are being made, it is appropriate to include on the invitation what kind of refreshments are being served so guests can be prepared. If, for example, snacks will be served, noting it on the invitation will ensure guests do not show up expecting a full dinner.

The party organizer should decide ahead of time whether he or she wants the invitations to the party to be open-ended — meaning just about anyone can show up — or whether they should be more exclusive. Guests who are invited can bring others with them if not otherwise noted on the invitation, so if the party organizer wants to limit the number of people who show up to the open house party, it is a good idea to note on the invitation that guests should only bring one other person with them, or whatever number the organizer is comfortable with.

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summing
Post 12

One tip for having a good house party is be sure that you can control the number of people that end up showing up.

I remember I once was going to have a backyard bbq to celebrate the fourth of July with some friends. Well, they told people who told people who went on to tell more people. I was expecting to have about 20 guests and all of a sudden 100 people show up. I did not have enough space, food or drink. Make it clear how many guests your invitees can bring and don't be afraid to turn people away if you have to.

nextcorrea
Post 11

I would always prefer to go to a house party over going to a bar or some sort of formal part at an event space. House parties just always end up being cheaper, easier and more fun.

I think that being in someone's house makes people feel more relaxed and it also gives the host more control over the space. They can play any music, serve any food, arrange any events and generally mediate their guest's experiences exactly as they would like. They can also save a ton of money by buying their own booze and food.

JaneAir
Post 10

I tried to throw an open house party a few years ago, and it was definitely not a success. I used the social media and word of mouth to spread the word about the party. I figured that a moderate amount of people would show up, and that would be that.

It ended up being way larger than I had planned! I didn't have enough food or drinks for everyone who came. Not to mention space! If I ever do an open house party again, I'll just send party invites to a few people and call it a day!

Monika
Post 9

@strawCake - That's a really good idea. I have a few friends who have houses on the market, so I'll pass that suggestion along to them.

A few years ago it seemed like every person I know wanted to hold a Christmas open house party. This actually worked out well for me because I tend to get really exhausted around the holidays and parties really wear me out.

Since open house parties tend to be much more relaxed than a dinner party or something, I don't feel pressured to stay for the whole night. I end up having a lot more fun when the pressure is off!

strawCake
Post 8

Of all the open house party ideas I've heard, I think holding an open house party for a house you're trying to sell is the best one. The housing market is so difficult these days you really have to do everything you can to help your house stand out.

Holding an open house party can help people see the house as a home. Also, you can present the house at its best. Make sure the furniture is arranged well and the decorations look great. I've heard it can also help to have some scented candles with comforting scents, like vanilla or apple spice.

I actually have a friend who did this to help sell her house, and to this day she credits the open house party as what finally got her house sold!

bagley79
Post 7

I love to entertain and have parties at my house. What I don't enjoy doing is planning and preparing the food.

One of my best friends doesn't have a very big house, but she loves to cook and prepare food for parties.

Anytime I have an open house party at my house, she comes and helps me with the food. We always vary the open house party menu with the seasons of the year.

She is very creative when it comes to food and coming up with unique ideas. When our friends get an invitation or phone call about the party, they always know there will be good food there.

I have also hosted open house potluck parties when everyone brings a dish to share. This really makes planning the party a lot easier. These are usually casual, informal parties where we eat and play games.

andee
Post 6

When we were planning an anniversary party for my parents, we went with an open house. We had invitations made up specifying the hours of the open house celebration.

We also had a short program planned during the middle of that time. On the invitations we included the information about the program and what time it would be.

We made and printed the invitations ourselves to save some money. There are several online sites where you can find open house party invitation wording. These samples of wording and style made this process a lot easier.

Most people that came wanted to be there for the program, but there were still a few who came and went before or after the program.

julies
Post 5

I like open house events because if you don't have an entire afternoon or evening free, you know you can still stop in for a few minutes.

The come and go atmosphere of an open house seems to fit well with our busy lifestyle. I think it is easier to have a bigger turnout when people know they aren't required to spend a lot of time there.

Even if you have an open house or not, planning a party always takes a lot of work. I think any party is a success if there is a lot of good food. People love to get together and mingle, but what really sets a party apart is the food.

When I host an open house, I like to keep it simple, but have a lot of finger food on hand. I have found that buying some of these appetizers at wholesale stores like Costco can really save me a lot of time and money.

Perdido
Post 4

@OeKc05 – It does seem that freshly made food goes faster at my parties, too. However, I get around the preparation time constraints by having each guest make something and bring it.

Because of this, I do mail out invitations. It is important that everyone bring something, so I want them to know the details about the party. If they are going to take the time and effort to prepare food, then I want them to feel special by receiving a personal invitation.

Since I am a graphic designer, I don't have to pay to have the invitations made. I have the skills to make them myself. I realize that some people may not be able to do this, but even a simple typed invitation on a sheet of regular white paper can accomplish the purpose, if you don't have the budget for professional invitations.

OeKc05
Post 3

I think that open house party food is best when kept simple. Unless I'm going to a wedding reception or an awards banquet, I don't expect a full meal, and most guests have come to expect only finger foods at parties.

I threw an open house party last year, and I only used snacks and sodas as refreshments. I balanced things out by having about half purchases snacks, like potato chips and pretzels, and half homemade refreshments, like crab meat on cucumber slices and chocolate fudge.

There was hardly any food left, but what did remain was mostly the purchased food. People tend to prefer homemade snacks. I don't have time to make everything from scratch, so half and half works best for me.

kylee07drg
Post 2

There is a historic mansion in my neighborhood that throws an open house Christmas party every year. During the rest of the year, guests pay to tour the house and hear the story of its previous residents. The open house party is the one time of the year that you can do this for free and get fed!

My mother took me there when I was little. I remember eating cookies and drinking grape juice in the living room while the tour guide told us how the area we were standing in had served as a makeshift hospital for Civil War soldiers. I lost my appetite just a little, thinking about all the blood that must have been spilled in that room.

However, by the time we moved on to the other rooms, I had forgotten about that. The cookies were too good to put aside.

I remember thinking how awesome it was that the owners of this historic place let everyone walk around with food and drinks! Most museums would not allow such a thing. I think this made the place very inviting, and I know it gained favor with the kids.

lighth0se33
Post 1

Several businesses in my town throw open house parties around Christmas. They usually run ads in the newspaper and distribute flyers in the mail to let everyone in the community know they are invited.

It's always nice to go into a store and get free food while you look around. My cousin and I went to an open house event that involved the entire town square one night in December, and each place of business was serving different food and drinks. We went around to several, and by the time we were done, we were no longer hungry!

It was good that the stores consulted each other about what each one would be serving. That way, no one would walk into a business, see that they had the same food as the last place, and walk out.

We started with the store on the far left corner, which had meat and bread appetizers. The next one served vegetables, and one even served sushi. By the time we got around to the other side, we were snacking on desserts.

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