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03.06.2003: Etiquette Schmetiquette
common-sense manners for real-world living
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continued from page 2
housewarming party ...
I am having a housewarming party, but I want to split the time up between an open house from 2-5 p.m. for co-workers, and guests that can only pop in for a few minutes, and a party from 5 to 10 p.m. for my close friends and family that can stay awhile and celebrate. Should I send out 2 separate invitations?

Is it okay to put your house themes on the invitations such as: THEMES: Kitchen - apples, Living room - nautical to let them know what kind of things to bring for your new house.

A: While I can certainly see the appeal of having two different parties, Iíve hosted enough gatherings by now to know that itís very, very difficult to know exactly when a party is going to end. Guests have a pesky tendency not to show up at the designated time, and there really isnít a particularly subtle, graceful way to herd a big group of people out of your house once you decide you, personally, are ready for them to clear out.  And it would look mighty weird and not a small amount off-putting if the guests from party A were being guided out of the house at the same time that guests from party B were just beginning to spill in. If youíre dead-set on doing two separate housewarmings, Iíd think it would be much easier for you as a host to just have them on separate days, to avoid the almost inevitable awkwardness of that transition period.  Alternatively, if youíre not averse to the idea of letting the two groups of people intermingle a bit, just make it one big party Ė let guests know that the afternoon will be a chance for people to pop in and get a peek at the house, and that if they have more time, theyíre welcome to arrive later and help you break in the house by celebrating well into the evening.

As for giving guests hints on what to bring you as a housewarming gift, thereís really no socially proper way to just come out and tell guests that you want, say, apple-motif dishtowels for your kitchen. 

One thing you might do would be to create a clever little invite that features photographic peeks of your new home Ė a subtle way to clue in any guests who might be inclined to bring you a gift about your decorating tastes. Honestly, though, my general feeling is that itís best not to assume that youíll be showered with gifts at a housewarming Ė more often than not, Iíve found, guests just arenít aware that theyíre traditionally expected.
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