The holidays are a time inevitably packed with joyous activity, but as we’ve all likely discovered, sometimes too much planning can block the magic (hey, hey, New Year’s Resolution from our very own EIC). More often than not, the best gatherings of the season happen spur of the moment, which means you always have to have your hostess game on point. Today we’re giving you a guide of easy tips to be prepared for just that, penned by the lovely Leslie Musser for our friends at Darling Magazine. Follow these suggestions and you’ll always be ready to tell your friends to come on over, baby!

From Leslie

Playing the role of hostess can feel intimidating. And on top of that, we’re tied to a world of Pinterest-perfect images where someone else turned the average party into a magazine-worthy spread. But creating an atmosphere that’s both comfortable and inviting can come down to a few simple things.

Whether you’re pressed for time or just decided to throw an impromptu gathering, these tips will ensure an effortless get together.

Always keep your home ten minutes from ready.

So this requires a bit of daily upkeep, but makes a world of difference for unexpected guests. Instead of needing to Tazmanian-devil your way through a cleaning spree, keep the living space free from clutter or mess. That way the only things that need immediate attention will be leftover dishes in the sink, a stack of papers to sort, or countertops to wipe down. Staying on top of those larger-mess-tasks will keep stress levels to a minimum.

Have the perfect playlist on lock.

Music may be the most important part about creating a mood. And when you don’t have time to think about choosing the perfect list, it’s best to keep a few in your back pocket. With impromptu gatherings it’s best to stay on middle ground, meaning nothing too disco pop-ish but nothing too drearily slow, either. Think acoustic or folksy and you’re on the right track, like this Tig Tunes!

A bottle of bubbles chilling at all times.

It may be challenging to know the drink preferences of all your guests ahead of time. But a simple solution is to consistently chill at least one bottle of Prosecco. It’s a middle-of-the-road beverage as far as people’s tastes are concerned and it’s not as precious as champagne. So serving up glasses upon arrival is a sweet way to kick off the gathering.

Stock up on serve-ready treats.

Stocking a fridge for the perfect charcuterie board is costly. Not to mention, trying to keep perishable items on hand for any unforeseen events means a lot of spoiled food. So opting for an array of frozen desserts is the easiest and most economical option. Things like macarons or mini cheesecake bites are both aesthetically pleasing and endlessly delicious.

Light those candles and set the scent.

Scented candles are a final, simple touch that creates an inviting ambiance. We can all become a little nose-blind to the smell of our own place, so it’s best to play it safe and freshen up. Placing one candle in the living area (not directly next to food) and another in the bathroom covers all bases. Choose seasonal scents that are recognizable but not overpowering. It’ll be the finishing, subtle touch that encourages guests to relax.

Images via: ClipGoo, Amy Emily Photography, One Brass Fox (Leslie Musser), Darling