Hosting the perfect housewarming party

Celebrating your new home is a piece of cake with these tips from the experts.

Bill Granger is an Australian chef and food writer, loved by family cooks and sophisticated foodies alike for his relaxed style and fresh local ingredient-led dishes

The best celebrations are relaxed ones. Your guests are coming to see you as well as your new home so you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. If you serve something simple that can be prepared in advance, there’s more time to relax with your friends. 

If you are planning a casual drinks affair, a large cheese platter filled with delicious cheeses, dates, quince paste and crackers dressed up with a big bunch of grapes and some plump strawberries is an easy way to please your guests whilst they tour the house with a glass of bubbles or beer. 

If you’d prefer a stand-up lunch or cocktail style dinner, you can purchase Chinese style take away boxes from a local discount store and fill them with Bill Granger’s delicious salad. It’s always good to serve something hot at mealtimes, so add some chicken satay or lamb cutlets that can be grilled on either a BBQ or a grill pan just before serving. This is a simple and easy way to cater with a minimum of fuss and washing up! 

If you were planning a more intimate sit down meal, you can adapt this and serve the grilled meats on a large platter with a bowl of the citrus salad and some fresh bread or roasted potatoes. 

Finish with a light dessert, like Eton Mess, which is perfect for a casual housewarming meal with friends and family. 

Bill Granger’s citrus quinoa, sprouting sunflower seeds, beetroot, feta and chilli salad 

175g mixed quinoa
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
Juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges to serve
2 tablespoons orange juice
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1 large zucchini (approximately 200g), grated
25g sprouting sunflower seeds n 1 tablespoon toasted mixed sesame seeds
1 large beetroot (approximately 200g), peeled and grated
3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
2 red endives, leaves separated n 200g feta
Pinch chilli flakes 

  1. Place the quinoa in a large pan. Add 500mls water and season with salt. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, until the quinoa is just cooked. Drain. Combine the olive oil, lime and orange juice and salt in a bowl. Toss half the dressing through the warm quinoa. Set aside to cool
  2. In a bowl, toss the zucchini, sprouting sunflower seeds and sesame seeds with the remaining citrus dressing. Set aside. In a separate bowl toss together the beetroot with the pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds, a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil
  3. Plate the endive with the quinoa, courgette and beetroot salads. Top with crumbled feta and chilli flakes. Serve with lime wedges 

Bill Granger’s Eton Mess 

One meringue base or four individual meringues
Carton of cream
Punnet of strawberries, blueberries and raspberries (optional) 

  1. Either make your own meringues or purchase a base or individual shells
  2. Place them in a bag and break into bite size chunks 
  3. Whip a carton of cream with a teaspoon of white sugar and a 1⁄4 teaspoon of vanilla essence or fresh vanilla 
  4. Quarter a punnet of fresh strawberries (you can add blueberries or
    raspberries too)
  5. In the bottom of a glass or ramekin sprinkle a layer of meringue. Spoon a layer of cream to cover the meringue 
  6. Arrange a layer of fruit on top of the meringue. Repeat again finishing with a layer of fruit sprinkled on top
  7. Dust with icing sugar (optional)

These can be prepared just before your guests arrive and stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve. 

If you don’t have ramekins or clear glasses to serve this gorgeous looking dessert in you can serve individual meringues on a plate and add the cream and fruit on top. For an extra dash of fizz, you can marinate the berries in Champagne before serving. 

Your guests are there to see you so make sure you maximise your time with everyone and don’t get stuck in the kitchen. 

Alex Zabotto-Bentley’s top five tips for hosting the perfect housewarming 

My golden rule it is to make the evening as enjoyable for you as a host as it is for your guests. 

  1. Place something within each room that speaks of you, a vase full of a single colour flower, a cool handwritten welcome sign near the front door, think quirky and creative talking points
  2. Create atmosphere with your soundtracks. I build three play lists, one for the arrival, another for the meal and some great old schoolhouse music for the cocktails – Spotify is perfect for this. 
  3. Make a signature cocktail and make sure you pre-make a jug. I like to hand write the recipe (to make six) and place it is to make near the action with some additions like fresh chilli, lime and basil so everyone can make their own version.
  4. Plate antipasto before guests arrive. From a giant burrata to tahini, crackers and sliced salami. Just put it on wooden boards or platters so it’s visible, colourful and inviting. Not only will it make everyone feel welcome, it also gives you a good hour to spend with your guests early on. 
  5. If it’s in the evening, add some atmosphere with candles. I love citrus, lemongrass or fig scented candles but always keep them in areas where there are no cocktails or food. Place them in bathrooms, hallways or living areas to create some ambience and a welcoming aroma

Republished with kind permission from It’s My Home magazine

Photo by Helena Yankovska on Unsplash