How to host a Baltimore-style housewarming party

MarriageFamilyWeddingsServices and ShoppingAmerican Visionary Art MuseumPottery Barn

Whether you chose to have a small party at the American Visionary Art Museum or just said your vows on a harbor cruise, it’s easy to have more people that you want to celebrate with than were actually at your big day. If you moved into a new place after your nuptials it’s time to welcome those friends to your home to celebrate.

A long engagement with a big wedding, or a tiny ceremony with a big party? Today the trend favors the latter. For young couples who want to follow this new tradition, we've created a combination housewarming and wedding shower to fête your commitment and feather your nest. Festivities include having guests choose a room in your new house to help decorate. Pottery Barn wants to shower all new couples — including city hall newlyweds and those who choose to just invite the immediate family — with the gifts that make dream homes come true.

Setting Up

We've taken the best of the traditional bridal or wedding shower (typically held two months before the wedding date and is essentially the same kind of gift–giving celebration as ours) and housewarming party (held within three months of moving in), and turned them into a new kind of party. The basic wedding shower guidelines of professional event planner Veronica Whitehead still apply, with some creative tweaks of your own. For instance, she notes that the would–be bridal party normally organizes, hosts and pays for the event with family members sometimes contributing. For this party, the husband's family and his would–be groomsmen can also contribute. It's prudent to work out the budget and financial commitments as a first step.

Since the shower will be at your house, your organizer will need to work with you on planning and timing, say 2–3 months after the wedding. Other early decisions include choosing an invitation style, guest list, time of day and party theme. Whitehead reminds us to personalize the theme with the passions and personalities of the couple. Will there be an event highlighting their hobbies, like a cooking or wine tasting lesson, signature cocktail, international menu or a favorite color/symbol/seasonal theme? Make sure you have enough lead time to put on a thoughtful and stylish party. And don't be afraid to delegate jobs like the menu, champagne, flowers and music to others.

Veronica Whitehead emphasizes that printed invitations are important because they make your first impression as a serious married couple. Because of that, an overly casual electronic invitation or even a kitschy theme is a no–no. Make sure the invitation conveys the concept of a house warming, with the rooms of the house listed so that guests can choose the room they want to help outfit. The invitation can also include registry information. The paper and design will alert guests to your personal style, so that they can buy appropriately. Our handsome downloadable invitations include all the details and can be printed onto card stock.

Similarly, formal dinnerware sets the tone. For presentation pieces, this is a chance to go all out. Choose heirloom–quality items you love that will last. We recommend classic silver to add notes of elegance and tradition to your shower, even if the wedding was unconventional. For dishware, get economic Caterer's Boxes of plates, bowls, cups, glassware and silverware that can be used for every party thereafter.

Get creative with unique touches. As a permanent “guestbook,” we put out river rocks and a white paint pen for guests to write their wishes on. We also chose a fun “wedding cake” as part of a menu of light snacks and finger foods. Look for a custom bakeshop, like emmacakes (www.emmacakes.com) in the San Francisco Bay Area who designed an adorable cake for us in the shape of a house with a vintage cake–topper bride and groom at the threshold. Bring details of your color scheme, theme and number of guests to the baker, and let them create a concept especially for you.

Finally, Veronica reminds us to thank the guests by giving a meaningful party favor that's beautifully presented — another opportunity to show your style. With personalized, heartfelt touches, your shower–slash–housewarming needn't be expensive or overdone. Just remember to have fun, toast often and have plenty of champagne for everyone.

 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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