Getting free stuff just for having a party…sounds pretty good, right? That's the idea behind HouseParty.com. This website offers a prescribed way to socialize via a home-based party where like-minded individuals gather to learn about and share ideas about a specific product. The parties are fun to attend, but they’re even more fun to host. The biggest perk? High-dollar free products, coupons, and sometimes even gift cards for the hostess. Here's what you need to know to get started:

How it works

Companies partner with HouseParty to offer a limited number (usually 200–5,000) of party boxes with products, information and fun gifts that a host receives and distributes to invited guests during a party date predetermined by the company. (Note: there is some autonomy to choose a time or even change the party to another nearby date.) Think of the approach as a sort of grassroots advertising. The company gets to release its product to a small, interested audience, and the host gets compensated with products.

Expectations

After signing up for the free, no obligation registration, wannabe party hosts can scroll through the list of available and upcoming brand-centered parties. Find one you like? Sign up to get on the selection list to be a possible host. Be sure you:

  • Can commit to hosting a party in your home on or around the advertised party date.
  • Have a pool of guests (usually 10 or more are required) whose contact information you can easily pull to invite.
  • Are comfortable using the site's online registration and invite process
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  • Are willing to share information after your party, such as blogging or tweeting about your experience, uploading photos electronically, or filling out a post-party survey.

Types of parties

Party types vary; some are for a specific age group (like 21 and up), some are for individuals with a certain interest (such as families who play board games or individuals who craft), and some may be gender specific (for women only). For example, companies like Little Tykes, Nerf and Beyblade have offered parties that are kid-centered, and Redbook and Poise have offered parties for women. Many parties have a food focus—specifically, companies like Kraft, Keurig, Cheetos and many others have used this platform to launch a new line or product into the marketplace. Each party, however, has a purpose—to learn about a new product, share ideas for usage and/or experience the product through tasting, trying or using.

What you get

Each party host gets something for herself (usually including a large item) to aid in the in-home demonstration. Past hosts of a coffee party have received a free Keurig Vue V500 brewer (and this party even had its own host incentive reward program where hosts could earn up to $250 Keurig credit!), while hosts for a cleaning party have received Rubbermaid Reveal mops and accessories. Additionally, party hosts get a slew of items to share with guests, like shopping bags, samples of products, recipe books and coupons. All items arrive in a giant party box shipped to the host's home a week or two prior to the scheduled party. Don't worry: shipping costs are covered by the company sponsoring the party. The site even offers tips for throwing a great party!

How to increase your chances of hosting

Host spots are limited, so to bolster your chances of securing one, use these tips.

  • Check the site often. New parties are added all year round, so be the first to know about them by checking the upcoming party page regularly or signing up for email alerts.
  • Choose parties offering the greatest number of spots. HouseParty.com is upfront regarding the number of host spots available for each party, so pay attention to that number when searching. For example, you'll have a better chance at hosting a party when there are 5,000 available host spots versus 500. However, there is no limit on the number of parties you can apply for.
  • Meet the deadlines. The site has not only registration deadlines for individual parties but invitation deadlines to secure your host spot. A few months ago, I had a chance to host a Morningstar Farms outdoor grill party and was a finalist, pending my invitation of 10 or more guests by a certain deadline. I was lax in checking my email, and missed the invite deadline—and my chance to host a party and score free swag. Learn from my mistake.
  • Be flexible. If you are open-minded about trying new products and learning new things, you'll have a greater chance of actually becoming a party host. I took the plunge a couple of years ago to host an in-house clothing swap sponsored by Clorox Greenworks. The party was a total hit! Participants got great samples and high-dollar coupons for a number of products in the Greenworks line (detergent, wipes, dish soap, reusable cloths), and I got a local grocery store gift card, snacks, bags and signage to help with my party hosting.

Using HouseParty is a great way to extend your social network and possibly be rewarded with new products in the process. So, what are you waiting for? Party on!