A really close friend contacted me last week to say that she was having a housewarming. She wants to keep it simple but elegant. She is far far away and most of her friends and family are local to the NY/NJ tri – state area so there will be a lot of people traveling for this event. I sent her a very detailed e-mail and I think it was fabulous (toot toot beeb beep) so I’ve decided to share it with you. Here are a few easy steps to make your house or apartment warming simple but fabulous – especially if you are having out of town guests!!

The first thing that you should do is decide how formal or informal your event will be….a few things to think about (buffet style or sit down, pot luck or catered, indoor or outdoor, theme?). Then determine the budget.

Send out a Save the Date. Since people are traveling you want to give them time to book their flights and their hotel reservations. Contact the local hotels in your area and reserve a block of rooms. Come up with a cute name for the rooms so that people can reference it when they call to make their reservations.  Your Save the Date can be an e-mail or a Save the Date Post Card. You can create a simple but elegant Save the Date using one of the online print services. The Save the Date should include the all the pertinent information like the hotel, prices for the rooms, estimated air prices and suggested websites to buy air fare. As a general rule the Save the Date should be sent 3-2 months prior to the event date. The invitation should be released a month prior to the event date with a RSVP request 2 weeks prior to the event date.

Finally – it should include a note stating that the invitation will follow and whether children are allowed at the event.

Transportation – this depends on how long people are staying and how many people are coming. Depending on how far the hotel is from your home maybe you should rent a party van to pick up and drop off people to and from the hotel (charge the people of course). If it’s not too far then just have the people pay for taxis. Your guests should be responsible for getting from the airport to the hotel and vice versa. If your event is on a Saturday – most likely people will either fly in Friday night or Saturday morning and fly out Sunday morning. Depending on flight schedules maybe you should have a Saturday activity (see the local sites) so that people are not bored on Saturday – that is something you can arrange with the hotel concierge (maybe they have a City Tour bus or something).

Invitations – Depending on how formal or informal you can either send out an e-mail, send an e-vite or create an invitation on one of the printing website.

Catering/Pot Luck or DIY: If you are a DIY person just make sure that you are not cooking at the party start time. There is nothing worse than a guest knocking on the door and your reply is “Come on in – just finishing up the chicken but you can have a seat and I’ll be right with you.” If you designate someone to help you cook – make sure to do a follow up call with that individual and if they cannot arrive at the event early then designate a responsible individual to pick up the food.

I can tell you the horror stories of having someone help you cook and then that person arrives at your event 6 hours late with a key dish. Make sure that this does not happen to you.

Creating a checklist will alleviate any last minute items on the day of the event. Delegate, delegate, delegate. If your anything like me you want to do everything yourself – well you can’t. Please find responsible people to help you or hire a consultant from Unison Event Planners LLC (shamelss plug)

Other things to consider:
-Taxi rates and transportation – provide estimates on the rate to and from the airport and to and from the hotel to your home. People like to get ballpark figures of how much they will be spending. Go online, call the hotel, call the airport, call cab companies and get estimates.
-Rentals – tables, chairs, rolling bar, linens, tent, etc..)
-Entertainment (DJ or Ipod)
-Gift registry
-Alcohol budget (you can decrease this by having a drink menu (only certain drinks available) and have one signature drink)