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a warm welcome 
throw a summer housewarming party

by Dana Currier
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Moving in the middle of the hot summer months is never fun. Which makes it only that much more necessary to have a rocking housewarming party once you're finally settled in to your new place. There are, of course, many ways to throw a housewarming party, but simpler is almost always better. Do you really think you'll be up for preparing a formal dinner for 12 after you've just carefully unwrapped and stacked every last plate in your cupboard? I doubt it.

Instead of shoving aside the sofa and chairs you just lugged in and positioned 10 different ways before finding the perfect arrangement, take advantage of the long days and balmy nights of summer, and have the party outside. Sure, there's always an element of surprise when it comes to outdoor parties; the weather can change at a moment's notice and throw a wrench in the whole operation. But if need be, the party can be moved back inside or the whole shebang can be moved to the nearest bar. Remain relaxed whatever the circumstances and all will be fine.

Barring any unforeseen thunderstorms, outdoor entertaining is what the summer was made for. You can adorn your outdoor space (porch, patio, or yard) with the standard outdoor party decorations: Christmas lights strung on railings or fences, strategically positioned candles (perhaps of the citronella variety so as to keep the bugs at bay), and colorful paper lanterns. If you really want to dazzle your guests, incorporate the housewarming theme into your design scheme. Luminaries made out of colored paper bags are always festive, and without much work, you can turn them into something even more special. Take some black paper, cut out the numbers and letters to spell out your new address or street name, and tape them inside the bags (look for colored bags at a party supply store). To get your luminaries to look super-polished, use a stencil or simply print out the letters in a giant font size to use as templates.

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