“Bread, that this house may never know hunger.
Salt, that life will always have flavor.
Wine, that joy and prosperity may always reign forever.”
Everyone feels the excitement as actress Donna Reed gifts a couple who has purchased a new house in the classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.” This part of my favorite holiday movie never fails to “move” me, because I myself have moved so many times. Whether it’s a college dorm room or an architect-designed home in a gated community, moving to a new home is a huge event in anyone’s life.
When I think of “home” I don’t necessarily think of the building I live in, or even the one I grew up in. Home is a feeling, a scent and a memory. It’s where we feel the first movement of life during a pregnancy, teach a child to read his first words, or care for an aging parent. Living in a house makes it a home. So moving from a place we have lived to a place we haven’t can be a little stressful. In fact, experts say that moving is one of the top stresses we can experience, right up there with starting a new job, getting married, or having a baby. The idea of uprooting our lives and moving to a new house or city is one that can be exciting, but daunting. Lucky are those people who have friends who volunteer to help them move—who gladly wrap china in newspapers or ask to unpack kitchens and organize new pantries. Asking for help can seem to be a huge imposition, but many folks are happy to pitch in and help.
Moving isn’t only physically challenging; it can be emotionally taxing, too. For awhile, the new place just doesn’t feel like “home.” If you have a friend who is moving, help make that transition a little easier; help her make her new house “homey” by hosting a housewarming party. Your grandparents may have received bread, salt and wine when they “set up housekeeping” in days past, but today there are so many more options to help celebrate making a new house a home.
Usually, the housewarming party is given for someone else, not for yourself. Wording is everything. A true “housewarming” is given for a friend who has moved. Almost all experts agree that if you just want to throw a first party in your new place, call it an “Open House” and request “no gifts” on the invitation. This is a great way to welcome friends to your new home without them feeling like you are expecting a present.
Decide if this party will be a casual group of a few friends who show up with food and offers to help, or if this will be a planned party with invitations and gift registry. Some people don’t like unannounced guests. Are your friends going to be upset if their new house isn’t perfect when you ring the doorbell? If so, you will definitely want to plan the party ahead of time. Pick a date, send out invitations and list some items the homeowners may need for their new house. This way, the house is ready for guests before the party even starts. If you want to keep it more casual, and your friends are the “come-on-in” type, a surprise visit with you bearing a prepared meal and small gifts might be a welcome break on move-in day.
Is this is a first-time homeowner or a couple who is retired and downsizing from a big family home to a condo or apartment? The young, newly married couple may need everything from cleansing powder to powder room hand towels. Purchasing practical items for young homeowners is always a good bet. They may not realize they need a corkscrew until they want to pour a glass of wine. On the other hand, if this is a couple who is downsizing, they may not need anything at all! A gift certificate to a favorite grocery store to stock their pantry would always be welcome, as would new kitchen towels or luxurious bath sheets.
If this is a new community for the homeowners, help them get acclimated. Why not invite your friends’ new neighbors or a few members of their new church or school family to your gathering? This may break the ice and help your friends feel more comfortable in their new place. Also, by using catering or entertainment from the community, your friends may make valuable contacts. Buy everything for the party from local merchants, get names and addresses, and make a list for your friend to use long after the party is over.
Help after the party is over. This may go without saying, but enlist the help of partygoers to clean up after the party is over. Moving is hard work. Your friends may be exhausted, and the last thing they will want to do is wake up to an after-party mess. Make sure the house is spotless before you leave. Your friends will love you for it!
Throw a housewarming party and help your friends make their new house a home. After all, a home is more than bricks and mortar…a home is love, laughter and life!