Housewarming 101

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but the housing market is on fire! I have two friends that have bought and sold houses within a week and have closed at lightning speed. It’s bananas! Now that the closings are done, all that’s left is to move in, decorate, and celebrate their new home with family and friends. In this week’s post I wanted to share a few tips for a good housewarming party because ’tis the season for big housing changes!

Like most things in my life, I like to keep it casual. You can certainly opt for a formal dinner, but I prefer a good old-fashioned Open House. It allows you plenty of time to spend with your guests as they move through and it gives you ample time to give the home tours. Because, let’s be honest, that’s why guests are there, to see your new home and how you decorated.

An Open House also affords the flexibility of a simple buffet of finger foods. Or better yet, an epic grazing board a la Cheats and Meeses shown above. Keeping that stocked during the duration of the party is much easier than a three-course meal and, again, leaves you time to give house tours. As Ina would say, make a little and buy a little to keep it all manageable. Oh, and be sure to keep the bar stocked and the wine chilled, too.

When sending invitations, be sure to give your guests enough time to RSVP. If you go with something more formal, then more than three weeks in advance is wise. For a casual Open House, two weeks is sufficient. You could do less, but I tend to be conservative with my invitations and err on the side of more notice so people can make plans.

The next question is who do you invite. That’s a very personal question. The introvert in me likes to keep it small and include close friends, family, and new neighbors. But for you extroverts out there, the sky’s the limit. This is just a fun excuse to host a party, after all. (Wink. Wink.) A housewarming party is also a wonderful time to thank all those folks who helped you move into your new home. So go ahead and invite your real estate agent, contractors, interior designer, and anyone else who has helped you with the transition to your new digs.

As for gifts, you will get them. Graciously accept the gift and set it aside to open after the party. Etiquette dictates that presents be saved for after the festivities. Etiquette also dictates sending a thank you note within three weeks. Naturally, we recommend custom stationery with your new return address on the envelope as opposed to an email. (BTW, we are running the Crane “Perfectly Personalized” special now! Fifty notecards for $99. Stop in for more details!)

Speaking of gifts, below are a few of our favorite Red Barn Mercantile and Penny Post housewarming gifts. My personal favorites? I love the sweet and incredibly thoughtful custom return address labels from Felix Doolittle. I also love the gorgeous stamps from Wms. & Co. They are pricier but so worth it! One of our regular customers likes to give our Groceries & S@!t totebag and fill it with cleaning supplies and general necessities, which I think is genius!

If Alexandria is their final destination, then Red Barn has a large selection of Alexandria-themed goods. From oversized mugs to pillows to dishtowels, we have you covered. Finally, something perishable is always a good idea, particularly when you don’t know their taste. Liquid French soap for the kitchen or bathroom sink, a great smelling candle that happens to be made in Virginia, or a tasty treat to make cooking or unpacking a little easier.

If you have just bought a house or in the process of moving, then congratulations! It’s one of the most stressful processes you’ll ever endure. When you make it out on the other side – and I promise you will – you deserve to celebrate. Happy homecoming, all!


  • The latest from Amy
Owner Amy Rutherford started Red Barn because she wanted to deliver a service — to provide both old and new in one place. No longer will busy shoppers be limited to reproductions or forced to shop multiple flea markets for the look or gifts they want. The trick in blending old and new, vintage and modern, classic and quirky, is balance. And Amy’s knack for mixing rustic antiques with urban chic has created a look that is both fresh and familiar.

Red Barn Mercantile opened its doors in September 2007 with a single vision in mind: providing old and new to offer our customers signature whole-room designs at great prices.

We’re more than a furniture boutique and provide more personalized service than a big box retailer. We work hard to bring you the highest quality furniture and gifts, the most unique conversation starters, wall hangings and accent pieces, whether they come from off-the-beaten-track flea markets, or the latest designers.

1117 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get your daily dose of all things fashion, beauty, fitness, and design. Locally sourced and locally styled!