By : Alycia Teo
22 August 2012
Think housewarming, and what comes immediately to mind? Food, glorious food of course!
But to Joan, the personal touch comes first before everything else. So she held different housewarming parties for different groups of friends at her new flat in Jurong East.
“I didn’t invite all my friends to one single party, because I wouldn’t have time to talk to them,” she explained. “I wanted to be able to sit down with them, eat with them and talk to them the whole time.”
Joan cooking up a storm in her spick-and-span kitchen
When she could have just outsourced the catering, or served up the same standard menu, she chose to cook the meals herself and prepare different types of dishes for each housewarming party.
Nothing was too difficult or irksome when it came to her guests. Some of us might baulk at all the work and preparations involved, but not Joan. “Because I had different groups of guests and I roughly know the kind of food they will prefer, the dishes I cooked were what my guests would like.”
Greens and soup – a hearty, healthy addition
One of her yummy housewarming dishes – slow-braised, melt-in-the-mouth braised pork in soy sauce (Tau Yu Bak)
Joan’s preparations often spanned a few days preceding each party. For a more flavoursome dish, she would marinate the meat for her braised pork dish a full two days before a party, and brew the stock well in advance.
Something to soothe and refresh – a bowl of grass jelly dessert
Ever the gracious host, no guest of hers would be kept waiting for her to finish cooking, despite the fact that her housewarming parties are usually a buffet spread. She would make sure that all the cooking would be done before they arrived.
“If I had stayed in the kitchen to cook and let my guests mingle, I was concerned that they would feel left out. So I finished the cooking before they arrived, and made the effort to have conversations with them.”
The tastefully decorated living room, where friends gather for conversations
The sunbeam smile that lit up her face said it all. I was struck by the simple joy she felt at providing for her guests. I understood why elaborate decorations at her house-warming parties were not necessary. Many of us would run around to carefully arrange the cushions or make sure the coffee table gleamed like a mirror, all to impress guests with our style and good taste in home décor. For Joan, it was the personal warmth and hospitality that counted for more.
Planning Tips for your Housewarming Party
Here are some helpful tips to get you going….from the guest list to the goodbyes, they’re sure to turn YOU into the ‘Hostess with the Mostest’!
• Think about who you plan to invite – just friends sans children or the whole brood? If like Joan, you want to be there for all of them, hold several parties for different groups of friends.
• If you are good with your hands, make your own invite cards for that personal touch but an email or Facebook invite works just as well.
• Be sure to follow up on the RSVPs a week before the party. This helps you to prepare the party accordingly.
• Whether you cook or cater, try to check on the dietary needs of your guests. Everyone has his or her own preferences, so there’s no harm in checking. They’ll thank you for it!
• Always cater more than less, so your guests don’t have to fight for that last piece of meat. But if you are one generous host, have containers ready for your guests to take away the portions left over. “Don’t waste food” is our mantra.
• Some activity helps to liven things up, so plan an activity or two, like having board or card games? But if that bores your guest, then maybe surfboarding on the Wii may work better.
• Whatever activity you decide, remember to be a good neighbour and keep the noise level down. You’ll get off to a good start with your neighbours this way. Better still, throw a housewarming party for them the next time round, and you’ll get an endless supply of festive cookies!
Check the Time!
• Although you don’t have to make your home absolutely spotless, guests would definitely appreciate being welcomed into a home that’s tidy and also smells nice. Allow for time to get this done and to freshen up afterwards – you wouldn’t want to open your doors looking all beat from cleaning up your home.
• Parting is such sweet sorrow but all good things do come to an end and if your housewarming party has been absolutely swell, accept the compliments from your guests graciously – and make a mental note to thank MyNiceHome!
• Seriously, if you have taken pictures of the party, why not give them to your guests as they leave if you have snapped Polaroid shots. If not, email to them later or upload on Facebook.