How to Host an Open House Party

What is an open house party?

An open house party is a casual and laid-back gathering for both hosts and guests. It’s a come-as-you-are, drop-in style event that may occur regularly, like on Sunday nights. The main objective of an open house party is to create a welcoming atmosphere where people can socialize and make connections. You might invite together a friend group or bring together a mix of friends so they can make some new connections.

What makes an open house party unique?

  • Give a timeframe, not a start time.
  • Guests can come and go as they please in a set timeframe.
  • Tell guests that they don’t need to RSVP
  • Offer beverages, but only offer food if it feels manageable.
  • You might offer guests the opportunity to bring someone -their significant other, another friend, or their kids.
  • Possibly offer a purpose for gathering or activity.

Why does hosting an open house party give you?

Why would you host an open house party? Why step outside your comfort zone and offer a new experience? The answer is simple – because what we’ve been doing isn’t working. Loneliness has become a widespread issue, with people feeling disconnected and isolated from their communities. Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy even labeled loneliness as a public health “epidemic” back in 2017. We can all see the impact of loneliness on individuals every day.

The pressure to host perfect gatherings or be perfect friends hinders genuine connections. We are too focused on appearances and not enough on fostering meaningful relationships. It’s time to shift our priorities to what truly matters – creating connections that feel good rather than just look good.

And what feels good?

  • We need to find connection in our everyday life, and not that we can only connect after proving we are worthy or on special occasions.
  • Honoring our simple friendships and our close friendships – because we all have different kinds of friends in our lives.
  • Changing the way we connect with our people.
  • Feel OK just to BE rather than need to be perfect.
  • Feeling like we belong.
  • Changing how you and your people connect and allowing everyone to let go of the “shoulds.”

Think about it – Normalizing open-house get-togethers would make last-minute get-togethers more accessible. A text says, “House is open from 2-7 on Saturday. Hope to see you!” is much easier than the dreaded calendar comparison exchange and makes it much more likely we’ll spend time with friends and loved ones.

What kind of open house party are you having?

You don’t need a specific reason to throw an open house party – my personal favorite is to catch up with friends. However, you can also host an open house for various occasions such as graduation, retirement, housewarming, baby showers, promotions, anniversary gatherings, holiday bashes, and more. The possibilities for bringing people together in a fun and welcoming atmosphere are endless.

I’ve come across some really great ideas for hosting different types of open house parties. For instance, instead of throwing a big holiday bash, why not have an open-house coffee hangout? Set up a spread of baked goods, fire up your espresso machine, offer a festival holiday coffee drink, and invite friends to drop by from 9 am to noon during the holiday season. Put on some festive music, and you have a more relaxed way to celebrate with friends without the stress of a full-blown party.

More ideas for creative, open house gatherings:

  • Neighborhood porch cocoa or popsicles
  • Movie night
  • Neighborhood park hangout
  • Book swap or clothing swap
  • Watching the game or fight

It doesn’t need to be an elaborate gathering! The entire idea is to create space for people to be together and connect. Listen to an episode of the Friendship IRL Podcast on why simple neighborhood gatherings are important.


"6 Roles of Hosting" Cover and screenshots of pages

stop doing it all. Start hosting with ease.

Create more connection with your friends and family at your next gathering using the tips in this guide. Learn how to delegate the 6 roles of hosting and feel confident in your ability to throw a successful, stress-free gathering.

Open house get-together: Planning essentials

  • Choose a date and time that works best for you, eliminating the need for endless back-and-forth messages with friends. Those who can make it will join in on the fun.
  • Create your guest list, whether it’s a mix of friends and family or a way for different friend groups to mingle and connect.
  • Decide if you want to plan any activities or simply leave the gathering open for spontaneous fun.
  • Craft your invite to set the tone for your get-together. Need inspiration? I’ve got open house invite examples for you below.
  • Prepare your space for guests, making sure everything is ready, and you can relax when guests arrive.
  • Mentally prepare yourself to enjoy you time with your friends. Be present, make memories, and show how simple and meaningful get-togethers can be.

How to invite people to an open house party

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.

If you aren’t into a formal text or email invite, you can also just use a friendship opening line. Do you have a go-to friendship pickup line? No? Maybe you should. Listen to my episode of the Friendship IRL Podcast with Leah Wiseman Fink on friendship opening lines.

Example open house party 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 1 pm-6 pm; come for a quick minute or hang out 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 and freedom for this to morph as needed.
  • Welcome others
  • Request that no one RSVPs

Why do I suggest no RSVPs?

The concept behind eliminating RSVPs is to cultivate a relaxed environment for connection. When RSVPs are involved, individuals tend to feel pressured about whether they will be able to attend or not. There is too much time wasted around expectations of how long one should stay, whether they come sweaty from a workout or have a significant other or kid in the car with them.

By requiring an RSVP, individuals are forced to make a definitive decision in the moment, which can often lead to regrets. Without the need for an RSVP, people can make a spontaneous choice based on how they feel at that particular time.

The goal here is to remove any unnecessary pressure and expectations. By eliminating RSVPs, participants can decide on their attendance based on their current state of mind, even up to the last minute. This approach creates a more flexible and positive atmosphere for everyone involved.

Does the idea of no RSVPs stress you out? No worries! Ask for them. This is just my personal preference. Here more about Erin Woodruff’s thoughts on RSVPs in our episode of the Friendship IRL Podcast together where we talk about the simple neighborhood gathering she hosted last minute.

Open house party planning and preparation

An open house party is different than most parties we experience nowadays.

Most parties nowadays come with a long list of requirements, from dress codes to intricate planning. It’s no wonder that many people feel overwhelmed by the idea of hosting or attending such events.

Hosting an open house party is all about creating a relaxed and casual atmosphere, similar to hanging out with close friends or family. It’s a chance to invite your friends, acquaintances, and neighbors into your personal space.

While it may be unconventional, don’t be discouraged if only a few people show up initially. I once hosted an open house party and not a single friend showed up, but that didn’t stop me from trying again.

Keep an open house gathering informal can make some people uncomfortable, but it’s important not to take it personally. Instead, see it as a brave step outside your comfort zone.

Don’t give up if your first attempt doesn’t go as planned. Save the food for later, put on a movie, and remember that change takes time. Keep inviting people, and eventually, they will come around to the idea.

Just like any new experience, hosting an open house party requires patience and persistence. So, pick another date, send out more invites, and keep trying. The effort will be worth it in the end.

Focus on the goal or purpose of the gathering

Why are you asking people to take the time to be together? The purpose of an open house party might be:

  • To create an experience most people don’t regularly get — feeling comfortable in someone else’s home.
  • For people to feel welcome
  • Meet new people
  • Experience something different
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone — hosting an open house party is an act of small intimacy.

Step-by-step: What to do when hosting an open house party

Did you know that hosting a gathering involves taking on six different roles? I have a comprehensive guide outlining these six roles of hosting that can help you better understand what you need to do (and what you might be overlooking) for your next get-together.

When you decide to have people over

When preparing to have people over, the first step is to choose a date and time that works for everyone involved. Next, consider if there will be a specific activity or theme for the gathering. Once these decisions are made, it’s time to send out the invitations to your guests. Make sure to include all necessary details such as location, time, and any special instructions. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and ready to enjoy the event.

The week before

Decide on the menu for your gathering and make a list of beverages and food items you want to serve. Consider any dietary restrictions or preferences of your guests. Additionally, take some time to touch up your house. Notice I didn’t say clean your house. I suggest setting a timer for 10 minutes, and when that goes off — stop cleaning. Let it be what it is.

The day-of

Attempt to minimize the amount of work you have to do on the day of the get-together. Try to complete any tasks beforehand so that you can relax and enjoy the party once your guests arrive. The goal of an open house party is to keep things stress-free and ensure that you can have a good time with your friends and family, so make sure to keep everything as simple as possible.

House preparation

Do any minor setup or shifts to your furniture. For example, moving more tables into the main room.

Food and beverages

So you are want to serve food, but what does one offer on an open house party menu? Again, start with the purpose of this gathering: to keep things simple, make people feel comfortable, and have this get-together feel accessible + repeatable.

  • A pot of soup
  • A big salad + a couple of dressing options on the side
  • We don’t want a set mealtime, so make a salad that won’t wilt, or keep the dressing on the side.
  • Some sandwiches
  • A charcuterie board
  • Some random snacks are set around: chips, pretzels, Chex mix, or cookies.

It’s your actions, not your words, that truly impact how comfortable your friends feel. If you promise a low-stress gathering and then go all out with elaborate food preparations, your guests may leave feeling pressured to do the same when hosting. By keeping things simple, like opening a bag of salad mix, you show that hosting doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. Your actions can either build or break down barriers to socializing with friends. So remember, it’s how you act, not what you say, that influences others’ willingness to relax and enjoy themselves.

The setup for food and beverage can also set the mood. Create stations for guests to help themselves with beverages and food. Set out everything they may need in plain sight, such as coffee, mugs, tea, milk, sugar, water glasses, spoons, bowls, and napkins. This encourages guests to feel at ease and care for their needs.

Do you include alcoholic beverages?

That is entirely your choice. Consider hosting a gathering for a change where alcohol isn’t the center of your gathering. I have an entire episode of the Friendship IRL Podcast about navigating friendships when you are drinking less.

Or perhaps, let guests know in advance that there won’t be any alcoholic beverages provided, but they are welcome to bring their own if they prefer.

Do whatever feels right for you, the purpose of your gathering, and the guests attending.

What if someone wants to bring something?

Let them! We are trying that sense of obligation to always show up with something tangible to offer. It’s OK to show up as themselves with nothing else to give except their presence. With that being said, sometimes people want to share something they made. Perhaps a friend’s favorite pastime is baking, and bringing cookies gives them an excuse to spend the morning in the kitchen.

Ask them to keep it low-key. You don’t want them to show up and then spend the entire time cooking in the kitchen during the get-together. A simple way to address this is by saying, “Only bring something if you genuinely want to share, not out of obligation.” This allows friends to contribute without feeling pressured.

Entertainment options

Activities are not a must, but having a central activity can enhance the gathering. Consider setting out some board games, a short game, or a book swap to encourage guest interaction. It’s important to create a comfortable and inviting space where people can relax and connect.

If there is no central activity planned, pull out a few games from the closet and place them on the table. You can also turn on background music or have a sports game on TV to create a relaxed atmosphere for socializing and fun. The key is ensuring everyone feels at ease and has the opportunity to engage with others in a casual setting.

Day-of coordination

Take a moment to pause and collect yourself. Sit down and take a deep breath. Make a conscious decision to stay in the present moment. Remember, your attitude sets the tone for the entire event. If you remain calm and composed, your guests will feel at ease. On the other hand, if you appear stressed and overwhelmed, it can create a sense of unease among your guests. Focus on creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

In my opinion, the day-of coordination is crucial for the success of an open house party! Make sure to review the Six Roles of Hosting in my complimentary guide to ensure everything runs smoothly on the big day.

Post-party considerations

Take a moment to reflect on your hosting efforts and give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back or a moment of gratitude. You created and offered a welcoming space for everyone to enjoy. Consider following up with any connections made during the party by facilitating introductions or exchanging contact information (with permission). If someone mentioned a new favorite contractor, product, or restaurant, be sure to reach out to that friend for more details and share the information with the group. Lastly, encourage anyone who attended and loved the experience to consider hosting their own gathering in the future.

Hosting a party involves 6 roles.

Stop doing it all. Start hosting with ease.

Final thoughts

An open house party is meant to be a casual, come-as-you-are event focused on making connections. By eliminating unnecessary formalities and pressures, the goal is to create a welcoming space where guests can feel at ease.

While hosting an open house gathering may feel unfamiliar at first, being willing to step outside your comfort zone can lead to meaningful rewards. Not only does it allow all kinds of friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances to intermingle in a comfortable environment, it also sets an example for how we can foster community in simpler ways.

Next time you feel motivated to bring people together, consider sending out an open invitation. Let go of expectations, prepare your space with some snacks and games, and then relax and enjoy the connections that unfold. You may be surprised by how an informal gathering can turn into rich conversation, laughter and newfound friendships.

If hosting an entire party feels intimidating, start small with a 1-2 hour afternoon open house. Focus less on perfection, and more on creating space. Trust that your guests want to spend time with you, not critique your hosting abilities.

The more we normalize coming together in informal ways, the more opportunities there will be for meaningful moments with our loved ones. An open house party reminds us that it’s our shared presence that matters most

Frequently Asked Questions

What can I do to make hosting less stressful?

Download my Six Roles of Hosting Guide! This resource will change the game when it comes to hosting events. By identifying the six key roles of hosting and determining which ones you don’t need to do, you will not only host a better get-together but also enjoy the party. It’s all about simplifying and focusing on what truly matters to create a stress-free hosting experience.

What are the key elements to consider when planning an open house party?

Focus on the goal or purpose of the gathering. Why are you asking people to take the time to be together?

What should be included in the day-of coordination for an open house party?

To ensure a smooth day of coordination for your open house party, it’s important to keep your plans simple. The focus should be on enjoying the event and connecting with your guests rather than getting caught up in elaborate details. Consider simplifying your setup, decorations, and activities to make the day run more smoothly and allow you to engage with your attendees fully. Download my six roles of hosting guide so you can relax and make the most of your time with friends and family by keeping things uncomplicated.

What etiquette should guests follow when attending an open house party?

Show up and be present at the open house party. If the host requests that you bring food, drinks, or entertainment, contribute. Otherwise, show up and enjoy the gathering. Take the opportunity to meet new people or reconnect with friends you haven’t seen in a while. Remember, the host is opening up their space for you to enjoy, so make the most of it by engaging with others and making the event enjoyable for everyone.

How can I handle post-party considerations after hosting an open-house event?

The main goal of hosting an open house event is to foster connections with your guests. Take advantage of this opportunity to deepen these connections even further. Make sure to introduce people who haven’t met yet and follow up on any interesting conversations during the event. Consider planning another open house gathering to keep the connection alive and continue building relationships with those who attended.

How long should an open house party be?

I recommend keeping the open house party between 3-5 hours. This timeframe allows multiple guests to come by and enjoy the event. If you have a larger guest list, opt for the longer duration to accommodate everyone, while a shorter timeframe works well for a smaller gathering. This way, you can ensure that all your guests have a chance to mingle and have a great time at the party.

Profile Photo for Alex Alexander a blonde haired white woman smiling at the camera. She is in her 30s with her hair down and curled and wearing a grey sweater.

Hi! I'm Alex.

I am just a person who has spent an extraordinary amount of time trying to understand some of the relationships that I hold most dear. I invite you to join in on the conversation below in the comments section below.

Ask questions, leave comments, share critiques or give advice. All are welcome.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Hi. I'm Alex.

I'm just a gal who cares deeply about community + friendship. Why? Well, I didn't have a healthy support system growing up.

So I built one... out of friends. I believe a healthy support system is the ultimate self-care.

Every new blog post... straight to your inbox.