What is an Open House Party?

B. Miller

An open house party is a party that is held at a home or other location for a set number of hours, and during those hours, guests can come and go as they please. These parties are more informal than other types of get-togethers, and are typically easier to plan. They are also good for people who want to invite a lot of people to the house, but don't have the space to accommodate all of them at once.

A generous buffet helps make an open house successful.
A generous buffet helps make an open house successful.

In many cases, an open house is often held instead of a traditional housewarming party, but one can be held for any occasion or holiday. It is not necessary to plan specific activities the way they often are at other types of parties. There are some extra considerations that a host should keep in mind, however.

Snacks may be available for open house attendees.
Snacks may be available for open house attendees.

The first issue to consider is the invitations. All of the usual information should be included, like the occasion for the party and the location. Instead of a specific time to be there, however, the invitation will state a certain number of hours during which guests can stop by. Some parties last all day, from morning until evening, but others only last a few hours in the afternoon or evening. It is rather counter-intuitive to ask guests to RSVP, but hosts who want a general guest count can include that information as well.

An open house party might feature casseroles.
An open house party might feature casseroles.

Another issue that the host should keep in mind is the food. There needs to be enough food to can last the length of the party, but items shouldn't lose their appeal after sitting out on the counter for hours. Simple snack foods are best, unless the host wants to cook food a few times during the day. Another option is to make the party a potluck, and ask each guest to bring a dish. Hosts should make sure they have a lot of different beverages available and let guests know if alcohol will be available or if they should or should not bring their own. Some people do not want children at their open houses; if this is the case, the information should be indicated on the invitation.

Cake may be served as a dessert at an open house party.
Cake may be served as a dessert at an open house party.

An open house party can be a fun, casual way to spend a day with friends and family, showing off a new home or celebrating a special event. Summer picnics also work very well as open houses, because people can sit outside as well. Once the party is planned, the host should remember to just relax and have fun.

Guests at an open house party might enjoy a slice of pizza.
Guests at an open house party might enjoy a slice of pizza.
Ice cream may be served during a summertime open house party.
Ice cream may be served during a summertime open house party.

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Discussion Comments


Are there any laws against such parties in Alabama?


@seag47 – I always tell my guests to bring only foods that won't go bad. That way, no one has to keep track of how long certain foods have been out.

There are always a lot of desserts at my open house parties, because rarely do desserts contain items that will perish. I also make sure to serve a vegetable tray and a pretzel tray.

Crackers are another good choice, as are chips. Chocolate truffles and peanut butter balls won't melt or spoil, so they are always on the menu.

One thing that my guests have learned about me is that I don't leave dip sitting out. If someone wants some ranch dip for their celery or broccoli, then they are welcome to go to the refrigerator and get it, as long as they return it to the fridge.


I've often found that when I have an open house party and serve alcohol, the guests tend to stay longer. No one wants the party to be over.

I've also found that it is a good idea to have guests bring additional alcohol. I always keep some in stock, but you never know how much people are going to drink, so any additional amount helps.


I received a birthday party invitation last month, and I was surprised to learn that it was an open house party. I didn't see how the hosts could plan to light the candles and open the gifts at a certain time if they didn't know when everyone would be there.

It turned out that the cake had no candles, and it was cut before the party started so that guests could get a piece as they arrived. Also, the birthday girl was receiving and opening gifts as they were brought to her by each guest, so no one felt obligated to stick around all day for the opening.

I thought it was a really smart way to plan a birthday party. It was a little nontraditional, but it still had elements of a regular birthday party.


Well, one good thing about having each guest bring food is that the food will be fresh for the time period during which that guest is there. When they go home, they should take the food with them so as not to risk giving later guests food poisoning.


Icecream17-The host can also have the main entrée catered and just ask the guests to bring their favorite appetizer or dessert.

Party cards could be made with green and red post cards in order to create a festive invitation.

In lieu of exchanging presents, you can have the guests bring a toy for a needy child that way everyone feels good and appreciates the reason for the Christmas season.


SurfNturf-I think that an open house Christmas party would be the most fun.

Everyone brings their favorite holiday foods and exchange presents. You could even offer an open house party menu in which so many dishes will be appetizers, entrees and desserts.

Otherwise you will have all desserts and no other foods which will be difficult to enjoy if all you are serving will be sweets.

Your Christmas open house party should be really fun and the party invites could even talk about their Christmas traditions.

he open house party invitation wording should include information that you would like everyone to bring a dish.


An open house party food could consist of pot luck. Asking everyone to bring a covered dish makes the party more fun because you don’t know what others will be bringing.

Open house party food should be simple finger foods that people can easily eat at a party. Chunk fruit, cheeses, olives, vegetables, and chips and small chicken strips are great ideas for an open house party idea.

A variety of dips and wines could also be served. Sometimes deviled eggs and croquettes are also very popular.

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