How to Host a Last Minute Housewarming Party

last minute housewarming party dungeon decorations

No one plans for a last minute housewarming party, but when a friend decides to drop by and you’ve got a new space to show off…needs must and it’s time to pull off a MADLASS transformation. 

MADLASS is the acronym I found on my hostessing priorities to-do list; unhinged yet apt. Sounds silly, but if I can pull this off in under 2 hours lugging lamps around Brooklyn in a corset & heels like a car-free dominatrix Ginger Rogers, you can too. 

Whether the “house” in question is a grungy Southern punk dive, a classic six overlooking the park, a converted garage, or a tiny dungeon, hitting the marks listed below will ensure your guests get to see the best side of both your new space & you as a host.

Last Minute Housewarming Party: MADLASS style

Chant “MADLASS” to remember the following 7 major priorities, pray to the hilarious & hospitable queen Amy Sedaris as you dash about, and everything will go just swimmingly.


Play to all 5 senses, babe! Music is the quickest way to transform the atmosphere of a space without spending $ or damaging the walls. Set the tone of your last minute housewarming party by:

A. Putting on a custom playlist.
B. Using Spotify pre-mades to summon your aspirational vibe.
C. Encouraging guests to add their own songs, wedding DJ style.
and/or D. Shuffling your music library and preparing to get roasted.


Figure out what you already have to offer and generously share it. As with 5-star hotels, even if it isn’t a feature people will take you up on, folks like knowing they have access to your perks. 

-Advertise your outdoor space like a thirsty realtor.
-Put out nice hand soap and freshly laundered towels.
-Show people where the phone charger is before anyone has to beg.
-Suggest a coffee after dinner—you probably already have coffee at home, plus it’s a very classy touch to end the evening.


Everybody loves bevvies. Water, of course, but ideally a trifecta of drink options giving contrast between hot/cold/boozy/NA/fizzy/sweet/sugar-free. As any actor knows, a drink is more than hydration, it’s a major party prop. Guests will feel at home in your space if they have an accessory to wave around while they talk, sip from when they get anxious, and refill when there’s a lull in conversation.


This is doubly important for us as a dungeon, but even the vanilla crew back home shouldn’t sleep on the importance of good lighting. Like music, lighting design sets the tone & non-verbally instructs guests how to behave in a space. If you want to get laid, cold fluorescent bulbs in your living space will make that exponentially more difficult.

I go so far as to gaff tape down overhead light switches so they won’t get accidentally turned on during a party and ruin the mood. With a few days notice you can order colored lighting gels to cheaply & easily improve the tone of recessed ceiling lights, if you’re doing it day-of scrounge up some lamps and as many candles as you can safely trust yourself with.


Or rather: style the shit you already own to look like art. Art is simply an intentional visual composition. Hide any mess that distracts from the house itself, then arrange what you keep visible in a tidy and aesthetically satisfying way.

When in doubt: dust it off (both objects & surfaces please), line things up by height/rainbow order, set up groups of 3 since that’s most organically pleasing to the eye, and square off stacks to align with the surface they’re resting on.


You can live in a space solo for a while, but it’s only when someone else comes over that you realize there’s nowhere else to sit but your bed and a single desk chair. For a last minute housewarming party that’s a cocktail mingle you can get away with fewer chairs than guests, but triple-check the seating counts for a dinner party.

S and I solved this problem by covering our floor entirely with exercise mats, making it wall-to-wall comfort. Floor pillows are coming next, we’re going full Frankie Bergstein.


Asking someone for a favor will strengthen your friendship. It’s called the Ben Franklin effect, was most famously supported by a 1969 study by Jecker & Landy, and any dominatrix sees this truth in action daily. Your friends want to feel useful, competent, like important advisors in your life. It’s uncomfortable for a guest to see their host doing all the work and a little delegation shares both the workload & the sense of accomplishment.

Ask someone to make you a drink while you cook. Tell your BFF to queue up the next song. Make your sister-in-law the very important boss of the kitchen timer. Giving someone the opportunity to help you builds trust and makes you both more invested in the relationship.

Welcome to your last minute housewarming party!

For us, a space isn’t cozy until we’ve got our nearest & dearest sharing it with us. However, it doesn’t truly feel like home until the morning after party clean-up: lipstick-stained mugs with red wine dregs perched on the mantle, guessing who left behind their scarf on the coatrack, a few scratches on the freshly-painted walls.

Finally, home sweet dungeon.
S + M

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