A bottle of fizz in the garden with your friends is all very well, but when you’ve just moved home or want to celebrate a recent renovation project, what can you do to make your housewarming party extra exceptional? Party pro Julie from Exceptional Events shares her top tips for being the perfect host...
After a big extension project such as an orangery or garden room, homeowners are likely to invite their nearest and dearest for the grand tour, especially if their build includes a wine room, but Julie Hope Girgenti from Exceptional Events believes that with the right touches, there could be something very special about hosting a housewarming party. After you’ve moved into a new home or finished a renovation project, a housewarming party is a fun opportunity to bring your friends and family together to mark the new living space as your own.
Ultimately, a housewarming party gives you the chance to proudly show your beautiful home to those you care about, and enjoy yourself at the same time. Interestingly, from a feng shui perspective, it’s believed that a housewarming party clears the old energy of a house left behind by the previous owners, marking the beginning of a fresh chapter for you and your family.
Celebrating your dream home
“If you’ve put a lot of time and effort into creating your new dream home, why wouldn’t you want to invite your friends round to celebrate once its all finished?” asks Julie. There’s no doubt that the events planner absolutely adores her job – her passion and energy radiates from her the moment she starts talking about her company and the exemplary service she provides for her clients. She’s known for going the extra mile in every way from start to finish.
For example, if you’re hosting a cocktail party, she won’t just organise your evening for you; she’ll make sure that your clothing is laid out on the bed for you, the caterer is ready to go, the entertainment is there, and the red carpet is rolled out. By the time you come down in the morning the next day, your house is clean and tidy with breakfast waiting for you.
“How often do we really move house, or renovate our homes?” asks Julie. “If you think about it, sometimes this can be a hugely important occasion in someone’s life. Why not celebrate it in style!”
The story behind Exceptional Events
Like many entrepreneurs, it took Julie a little while to discover her calling, and she first came over to the UK from Pennsylvania while on an international study programme as part of her BA in Dance and Choreography: “I fell in love with the London culture, with its hipster bars and beautiful architecture. I was excited by the fact that you can so easily travel to the rest of the world from the UK. I knew I was going to come back at some point.” About 3 years later, Julie applied for a Masters in Choreography at the Roehampton University in London and she’s been here ever since.
Starting off as a manager in a local pub, she progressed and moved into retail, eventually being offered a management position in the fashion and accessories department in Harrods. “I realised that there was nothing more for me in choreography, but I didn’t know what else I could do at that point. I had a memory of working at a really opulent, high-end boutique shop during my teens; everything was so beautiful there, and it felt like you were walking into another world when you stepped through the door. For a while, I wanted to run my own shop, but I realised that it was the experience of being taken away from your everyday life that I loved.”
Julie has been involved with events her whole life, learning from her mother at a young age who was a natural hostess. What’s more, her ability to manage projects and creatively bring lots of different elements into one engaging concept made her stand out, and she was asked to manage events at Harrods’ infamous Toy Kingdom. Running her own events business was a natural progression and it wasn’t long before she took on her first client. “I wanted to give them once-in-a-lifetime experiences. It’s about making the lead up to the event just as special for them, thinking of the finer details at every stage so the whole process becomes part of one of the most enjoyable experiences my client has ever enjoyed, not just the event itself. I’m usually given a simple, bare-bones brief for their occasion, and then it’s my responsibility to create an all-encompassing concept and make sure all the elements come together into the most incredible event imaginable.”
Planning your own housewarming party
Over to Julie for her top tips on planning an exceptional housewarming party:
Set a budget
If you’re planning your own party, the first thing I’d recommend is setting a starting budget, no matter how big or small that might be. This will help you to guide your choices as you plan your party and will help you to feel stress-free and in control during the run-up to the event. The key to good party planning is to make sure that you enjoy yourself, rather than worrying about everything.
Prepare the guest list
The next important factor to think about is who you want to invite. Realistically, who do you want to share your new home with? Do you want to open up your house for lots of people over a whole weekend, or would you rather have a smaller group of closer friends?
Make it personal
When I’m speaking to a new client, I like to ask them about their hobbies and interests so I can tie it into their event. This is a great opportunity to include a bit of your personality into your housewarming party and introduces something meaningful to your new home. For example, if you’re a fan of English wine, then invite an expert to offer a wine tasting session during your event. If you love gardening, then ask your caterers to incorporate flowers and botanicals into their menu – whatever makes you feel like you’re sharing something that reflects who you are.
Make your life as easy as possible
Ultimately a housewarming party should be for you, so think about ways that you can make the planning process as simple as possible. If you’re feeling under pressure, you’re not going to have fond memories of the event. Consider delegating tasks to supportive friends or family members who are keen to help. If you want music, look at hiring an agent to help you find a great band that suits your tastes, saving you from having to meet with a line up of musicians and DJ’s to hear their set (unless you like the idea of pretending to be a judge on The Voice.)
Don’t forget to relax
My final tip is to book in a massage therapist to visit you in the morning before your event. Sit back and enjoy yourself, while you look forward to the evening ahead!