Reunions and housewarmings (Words for different parties)

Listen to the author reading this blog post:

a group of people smiling and dancing together at a party in a living room decorated with balloons and coloured lights
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by Kate Woodford

This week we’re putting on our best clothes and grabbing a box of chocolates for the host because we’re going to a party! Well, okay, we’re not actually going to a party, but we are looking at words that we use to refer to social occasions where people meet up to enjoy themselves. You might be surprised at how many words there are.

Let’s start with a few general words for parties. We sometimes use the noun gathering for a party. We often use words such as ‘social’ or ‘family’ before it:

I would sometimes see her at family gatherings. / She generally avoids social gatherings.

We also use the words get-together and meetup to refer to informal social occasions, often small ones, involving particular groups of people:

We’ll have the usual family get-together over Christmas. / I’m organizing a meet-up with a few ex-colleagues in a hotel near the station.

UK English has the slightly informal noun do meaning ‘party’. It’s used especially when giving the reason for the party:

They’re having a do this Saturday for Eva’s 30th. / Are you going to Ethan’s leaving do?

(Note the phrase leaving do for a party to say goodbye to someone who is leaving a company or town, etc. This occasion is also sometimes called a send-off.)

A formal party held to celebrate an event, in a venue such as a hotel, is often called a reception:

This would be a great venue for a wedding reception. / There was a very nice reception after the service.

A party that has been organized secretly so that the person who is being celebrated is not aware that they are having a party until it actually happens is a surprise party:

Sara, meanwhile, had arranged a surprise party for him.

We’ll look now at parties that celebrate a particular occasion or have a particular purpose. A social event for a group of people who haven’t seen each other for a long time is often called a reunion:

There’s an annual reunion for former students of the college. / We’re in Oxford next weekend for a family reunion.

Meanwhile, a party that you give when you move into a new home is called a housewarming (party):

Are you going to Maria’s housewarming?

The parties that people have just before they get married have different names in UK and US English. A party that a woman has with her friends in UK English is a hen party or a hen night, while in US English, it’s a bachelorette party. The party that a man has is in UK English a stag party/night and in US English a bachelor party:

It’s Giulia’s hen party on the 18th. / I didn’t invite him to my bachelor party.

A baby shower is a party for someone who is soon going to have a baby, at which the guests give them presents for the baby. Another kind of party that happens before a baby is born is a gender reveal party, at which the gender of the baby is revealed to the guests in a special way, for example by popping a balloon that contains blue or pink confetti.

Perhaps appropriately, I’m finishing this post with the word wake, which is a social gathering for a dead person, either one held before the funeral or a more relaxed one after it, in which the life of the person is celebrated.

That concludes my ‘party post’. Do let me know below if you’ve recently been to any of the above parties!

14 thoughts on “Reunions and housewarmings (Words for different parties)

  1. Hudson Silva

    This article was so useful and interesting. Thanks a lot. Besides I love reading and now listening to it at the same time. By the way, I love British accent!

  2. Elmar

    Thanks very much for an interesting article. I’ve recently been to a reunion with my schoolmates. We decideded to have a party 44 years after we finished school. I didn’t know this is called a reunion.

  3. Maryem Salama

    I won’t come across most of these expressions even though I read a hundred books! how interesting it is. Thank you so much for this delicious meal of unknown vocabulary…

  4. Nero Row

    Honestly that’s not easy for me to get what this article said by listening, but I’ll try my best. Just keep moving veryday!

  5. Francis Boima

    Thanks for reminding us about the different ways of meeting together and having fun except for the wake night, actually I was conversant with all these expressions except for the do, in which case I’d like to express my deepest gratitude.

  6. sphinx4800

    My understanding is “bachelor’s party” and “bachelorette party” are STRICTLY and EXCLUSIVELY given to the groom-to-be and the bride-to-be before they get married.

  7. Anna

    Many thanks for this post.
    I heard a native speaker of Japanese use the English word ‘meetup’ in an interview, and when he was asked about the meaning (in this particular context), he described it as a gathering of people sharing the same interests, such as manga or Korean culture.

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