There’s a crisp in the air, and you know what that means…the holidays are right around the corner! This year, be the one who hosts the first gathering. Whether it’s an autumn feast with turkey and pumpkin muffins, or a chilly December night complete with carols around the tree, ham and cranberry sauce. 

With the holidays comes a lot of stress to perform and perfect. That’s where the ladies at Kyle Fine Stationery have you covered! Here are a few tips to ensure that your guests will have the time of their lives at your gathering (and make you look like a natural at this whole hosting phenomenon) 

1. If you can’t cook the meal before guests arrive, make cooking a part of the party!

Pick two of your closest friends that are attending and ask them to arrive a couple minutes early (Provide for them a nice bottle of wine, or frame for coming a few minutes early; even a nice thank you letter that expresses how much you value their friendship would make their heart smile). Have them help you prepare the salad, pour the drinks, or set the table. The little things that you don’t mind guests doing in your home (we’re all a little protective once it comes to our stove and le creuset pots that we got for wedding presents…no sweat!) 

Another little perk of having those couple of girls in your home early is that they are your best gal pals! They are the ones you have the most fun with. Turn your handy iPhone on music mode and rock out to your favorite tune… everyone likes a little pep in their step while cooking. (Personally, I recommend Michael Buble or Aretha Franklin) These girls of all people feel at ease in your home. They are the ones that know where the forks and knives are kept and where to find the fire extinguisher… you know, in case anything goes amiss! Once your other guests arrive, they will pick up on your friends level of comfort in your home, and voila, you’re the greatest host since June Cleaver.

2. It’s a party after all; invite whoever your heart desires. (Don’t worry about Becky and Rachel not getting along) 

Have you made a new friend at a community club, Bible Study, or the PTA this year? Does the hubby have a new co-worker that recently moved to town with his wife? Don’t worry about scheduling out another night to go eat dinner with them. Invite them over! 

Don’t worry about them fitting in, leave that up to the ambiance. Also, pick another friend to help you with this situation. You know that friend that can talk to anyone? The gal pal that has become best friends with the Publix check-out guy, the tire rotation expert… the one that walks through the mall and looks like a celeb waving to Sarah the nail tech, Rob the UPS delivery guy and Ethel, the dry cleaning lady. Yeah, that friend, grab her and ask for help hosting the new couple in town. When you need to be taking people’s coats, checking on the chicken or telling that “forever lost” friend how to get to your home (and no, your house is not the one with the 50 foot Santa in the front yard, you’ve turned onto Mulberry street, not Mistletoe Lane), this friend can insert funny ad-lib and make the couple feel welcome in their new environment while you attend to the fine tune details. 

3. The Chicken still has 30 minutes left in the oven… now what?

Another huge tip that I always use, is to utilize your friend’s cooking skills. We are all good at something different…key into this! Dinner parties usually occur on Friday or Saturday nights. And we all know that these days are our “get it done” days. If you try to do it all, you will be stressed. Guests can quickly pick up on when you're stressed, so remain calm. Hannah, your best friend since college, makes a wonderful cranberry salad, ask her to bring it! Not only will it be a delicious add on, but you will be complimenting and lifting up your friend. Emily, your new BFF from the PTA, makes chip dip that is IDENTICAL to Chuy’s spicy jalapeno dip. SCORE! Call sweet Emily up and ask her to bring the spicy jalapeno on over! (Even if Spicy Jalapeno does not go with your dinner theme, it is a wonderful way to keep your guests busy munching and talking and not thinking about how long the chicken has been in the oven!)

4. Prior to the party 

Dinner gatherings can be quite stressful, make sure to leave about 2 hours before your guests arrival for “me-time”. This time will help you ease into hosting, and allow your guests to feel more comfortable. After all, we love being around cheerful and warm people. 

Take this time prior to the party to soak in the tub, curl your hair, write letters, drive out to the pumpkin patch or swing on the swing set with your adorable children. 

5. Prior to contrary belief, men can be a key ingredient to your dinner party! 

In this time, make sure to fill in your hubby or significant other about everything that’s going on. Communication is KEY when others are in your home. Let the mister know about each couple or individual that will be attending and how each other knows them. Talk about ways you can make your guests feel more welcome (Maybe the mister’s best friend from college is in the computer analyst business and so is the PTA president’s husband… ask him to introduce each other). This will put a load off of y’all when you get other people on the same meeting ground. Focus in on what you know about others and connect the dots! Your hubby is your other half, so brainstorm together on how to bring everyone together for a delicious and festive time no one will forget.

Most of all enjoy the time you have with your guests in your home. Show them how much you love living there by making a comfortable and warm environment.