What is an Open House Party?
An Open House Party, as I am using this term, is a party that is designed to be low-stress, low-impact, for both hosts and guests. This is a flexible party where people are able to come together as simply as possible.
The guests feel comfortable coming as they are, keeping things light, and are able to easily fit in the time they can manage with their schedule. The host mainly provides space and has very little organizing to do. As far as cooking is concerned, the host provides a variety of beverages (alcohol optional) and maybe one nourishing, simple dish or spread similar to what they would feed their families.
Send a simple, but clear invite
It is best to send out the invite via either email or text. I love email, personally, because it keeps the guest list anonymous if you use the BCC feature. However, text will work just fine too.
Example Invite -
Hello Hello! I'm excited because I am hosting a gathering at my home! This Sunday join me for an open house. The plans include, but are not limited to, casual catch up time, board games, meeting new friends, seeing old friends, and of course a warm pot of something nourishing and yummy on the stove. I'll be hanging out and holding space from 1pm-6pm, come for a quick minute or hangout all afternoon. Bring anyone who needs to be here, babes welcome. No need to RSVP!
What to include in your Open House Party Invite
- Provide a clear timeframe.
- Be intentional and firm about how casual it is so the guests know what to expect
- Offer some ideas for activities, but also freedom for this to morph as needed.
- Welcome others
- Request that no one RSVPs
I prefer to make the invite list hidden
It's not that I want to trick anyone, in fact, it's quite the opposite, I want to take more of the thinking out of the experience.
So often seeing a guest list can induce feelings of "Oh, but I haven't seen Suzy in months. I am going to have to apologize for how long it's been since I texted her" and then a full week of pre-event anxiety. The idea here is that you don't know who will be there.
There can also be a concern of "Well, if Sally will be there, then I need to do my make-up."
I request "NO RSVPs"
I feel like this is incredibly important. NO RSVPs.
Why? The entire point of this is to create a low-key opportunity for connection. An RSVP means that people stress about whether they will feel up for it or not. There is too much time wasted around expectations of how long one should stay, whether they come sweaty from a workout if they have a significant other or kid in the car with them.
RSVP-ing means that someone has to make a commitment vs an in-the-moment "I want to do this."
How often have you a commitment on a Sunday afternoon only to realize that you really could use the rest, but you RSVP'ed? On the flip side, you didn't RSVP and now you are questioning whether you can go or not.
The lack of an RSVP just allows you to make a split-second decision.
We are trying to get rid of all issues + pressures. So, no RSVP. This allows people to make the decision based on how they are feeling that day, HECK ... at that moment. You've now truly created a fluid + positive space and experience.
Make good introductions
Take a second before people arrive to consider how you will introduce one another. Check out this article for my thoughts on making better introductions.
Go Heavy on the Beverages
Maybe this is just "me" thing, but I think that beverages can make us feel at home and the entire point of this gathering is to make people feel at home.
Beverages can include, but not limited too --- water, sparkling water, tea, coffee or some new beverage you tell all your friends about.
Do you include alcoholic beverages? That is totally up to you. Try one without! I've also done this where the alcoholic beverages aren't front and center, but instead just another item on the shelf in the fridge.
Need to calculate how many beverages you need? I've shared my tried and true calculation formula with you here.
What I would offer::
- Coffee on the counter
- Mugs on the counter
- Teabags on the counter
- Full Kettle on the stove
- Milk/Sugar options on the counter
- Water glasses next to the sink
- Other beverages out and available -- Maybe as simple as some ice + beverages in the sink
Having everything in sight makes people feel like all their needs are accessible
Provide something small to eat for people
Food isn't the point here. The point is the connection, but there is also nothing wrong with something SIMPLE.
- Simple, accessible, nourishing, one pot of something with some fun toppings. Keep it easy.
[Favorites - Chicken Tortilla Soup or Chili]
- Some baked goods that can be set out and left
- A big salad that people can top with their own dressing
[Some Favorites -- BYO Steak Salad + Mediterranean Lentil]
- A few different dips + some crackers and veggies
[Some Favorites - Hummus + Muhammara]
Should I have people bring things?
If others want to bring something, allow them, but otherwise no need.
Giving a time frame is key for an Open House Party
People have intense feelings around their time. You want to be very open and encouraging about your language here. THINK as you are talking to people.
Instead of :
"NO! Don't leave" should instead be "I hope whatever you have planned next is fun/relaxing/just what you need"
"Gathering starts at 1" instead should be "Door open at 1 and anytime after"
Creating this flexibility allows people to feel like they are in control of their time. Offer them the ability to arrive at any time during the window, stay to say hi or take off their shoes and hang out all afternoon.
Consider providing an activity
So often gatherings it seems socializing + drinking are the activities. I am not trying to write a drinking vs not drinking article here, but I am going to say --- consider providing another activity if that feels right to you.
- Board Games
- Book Swap
- Clothing swap
- Ask everyone to bring a WIN -- Have everyone write a "win" on a piece of paper. Draw everyone together and read the wins one at a time. NO need to include names. Just take in the moment of everyone cheering each other on.
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Anyone else looking forward to a "get together" this weekend? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ You know, for the commercials + that half time show + the snacks. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I suppose I'll watch some football too. [I will be cheering on the 49'ers, btw, because a dear friend is a lifelong fan and who am I if I don't support a friend in her time of need?] ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Back to the snacks - Haven't decided what I'm bringing yet. Ideas? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ But really, this post is just a reminder that it's not too late to use this weekend as an excuse to "Get together." ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Keep it simple. Have some fun. Enjoy your people.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Take a moment...
YOU CREATED + OFFERED SPACE.
I honestly feel like this is huge in today's world.
After the party, consider making any introductions/exchange of contact info (with permission) of anyone that seemed to really connect.
Finally, encourage anyone that attended and loved the experience to host their own.
Have you done anything like this? I'd love to hear if you host your own below!