It’s time for the holidays, and that often means you’re going to be hosting friends and family who are either visiting, or who want to celebrate with you. Whether it’s a cozy desert party, or a family gift exchange, we’ve got 10 tips to help you have a fun and stress-free holiday season.

1. Hire someone to clean, or enlist help from others.

You don’t have to do it all! If you can spare the money, hire a cleaning company to give your home a thorough one-over before your guests arrive. That leaves you with more time to focus on the other aspects of hosting, like cooking and decorating.

2. Choose lights over candles to set the mood.

The last thing you need to worry about while you’re hosting a gathering or a dinner party is your house catching on fire. That’s why we suggest sticking to soft white lights, or lanterns to create the ambiance you want vs. candles. You’ll have peace of mind knowing no one will knock a candle over, and your guests will love the warm glow in your home from good mood lighting.

3. Unclog your shower and kitchen drains before the guests arrive.

This might sound like an odd tip, but with more use and cooking rich foods where there’s a risk of oils clogging the kitchen sink, you could have a major plumbing problem on your hands if you don’t take preventive measures. Instead of using chemicals, we recommend picking up a snake at your local hardware store, and using that to give your drains a quick cleaning.

4. Label bins so it’s easy to separate trash from recyclables.

Make life a little easier and impress your guests with your eco-friendly sensibility. Label regular bins from your nearest office supply store so you and others can easily identify where to discard their glass bottles and cans.

5. Cook in advance.

This tactic will save you a lot of stress. Consider what elements of the meal you can cook a day or two in advance and simply heat up in the oven before they’re served. Good examples are mashed potatoes, pies, fruit crisps, deviled eggs, and other appetizers and finger foods.

6. Buy a lot of easy snack foods.

Who says you have to cook everything you serve your guests? Save time and skip the hassle by stocking up on easy go-top snack foods like crackers, cookies, mixed nuts, olives, cured meats and cheeses.

7. Make a Facebook invitation for your event.

The times have changed, and nearly everyone is now on Facebook. Skip the effort of handwritten invitations to your holiday party and make a Facebook event. By digitally inviting your friends you can easily see who has RSVP’d as well as send a quick reminder message to all the attendees before the party.

8. Create a budget before you hit the store.

When you’re planning a party or dinner, it’s a good idea to create a budget for yourself before you purchase anything. The last thing you need is to rack up debt just to throw a good party. Remember the little touches count the most, so don’t go overboard.

9. Clear out the coat closet.

It’s a good idea to do a quick clean-up of your hall closet so there’s plenty of space for your guests to hang their jackets. Consider moving your family’s jackets to another closet temporarily.

10. A self-serve bar makes for happy guests.

You’ve already got enough on your plate! Set up an easy self-serve cocktail bar and let your guests help themselves. If they don’t know how to make a good drink, they’ll have fun asking another guest to show off their skills and make one for them. No one will protest, we promise!

Happy holiday season from all of us here at Properties West 360!