The turkey is thawing, the vegetables are prepped, and guests have already arranged travel plans to be at your doorstep. It is officially too late to turn back. The holidays can be the best time of year, but for first-time holiday party hosts they can also be the most stressful. Whether you volunteered, or your friends and family chose your home for this holiday’s gathering, there is a lot of planning that goes into making the perfect day for everyone.

If you have suddenly realized that the closest thing to a party you have ever hosted was a Sunday football watch party where your planning included laying out a bag of chips and making sure the fridge was full of drinks, there is a good chance the idea of hosting for the holidays is daunting. But, not to worry! Whether you are planning your first Friends-giving or having the whole family in for Christmas dinner, we have some helpful tips to make your first party a success.

6 Tips for Hosting Your First Holiday Party

1. Prepare in Advance.
This one may seem obvious, but a common mistake when it comes to hosting your first holiday party is being unprepared. You don’t want guests to start showing up while you are simultaneously scrambling to finish the mashed potatoes, set the table and greet them at the door. Start planning your holiday gathering four to five weeks in advance to leave time for sending invitations, planning meals and gathering decorations. Trust us, it will take a huge load off your shoulders to be prepared when the guests arrive!

2. Have a Potluck.
If you are nervous about how your small oven can possibly cook five dishes at once, consider having a potluck. Inviting your guests to bring a dish can reduce the stress on you to prepare an entire meal yourself while accommodating a room of varying taste buds. Besides, we all have that one aunt or grandparent that makes the best green bean casserole around!

3. Cook What You Know.
If you are feeling confident and ready to reveal to your family and friends all that you have learned watching America’s Next Top Chef, then grab your apron and start planning your dishes, but keep the menu realistic. Even though that daring seven-layer cake you found on Pinterest sounds like a good idea in theory, sticking to what you know when hosting a holiday party will save you a lot of time and headaches. Cooking for a special occasion is stressful enough, so trade in that seven-layer cake recipe for something you have made before.

4. Set the Stage.
When it comes to hosting your first holiday party, creating the right scene can be essential to keeping your guests entertained. Start with decorations, setting the table in a holiday theme and hanging lights for Christmas. Then, move to music. Create a holiday playlist to play in the background as your guests mingle throughout the house. Finally, create a self-serve drink and appetizer bar, and complete with fun holiday themed glasses and garnishes. This is a great way to eliminate your need to be the server all night and allow your friends and family to help themselves to whatever they choose!

5. Start a New Holiday Tradition.
Traditions are a huge part of what makes the holiday season so special. For your first holiday party, create your own tradition. Whether it is a fun holiday game, a signature dish you make every year or caroling for the neighbors, traditions create memories and moments that your friends and family will look forward to every year.

6. Treat Yourself! And Your Guests.
You don’t want your party to feel like all work and no play, so relax, mingle and treat your guests to Malley’s holiday chocolates! Malley’s offers a variety of Christmas chocolate assortments that are sure to make every guest smile. Explore our Christmas chocolates and place your online order before you host your first holiday party. And remember, the most important part about hosting a holiday party is enjoying the company of your friends and family. Happy Holidays from the Malley’s family! ?