The only thing you should be hiding around the holidays are gifts. Okay, and maybe some of the receipts from the gifts you didn't tell your significant other about yet. You can avoid the need to hide your head in the snow thanks to a party faux pas if you keep these helpful party hosting tips in mind. Experts provide insights into keeping you from feeling embarrassed this holiday season.
Keep requests light- When guests offer to bring something, it's okay to ask. "Don't ask too much of your guests. While potlucks and cookie parties are fun and joyous, asking your guests to bring too much can be stressful. Keep it easy for them," says Aleah and Nick Valley from Valley & Co. Weddings of Seattle, Wash. and San Diego, Calif.
Avoid dinner topic pitfalls - While it's common knowledge that talking about religion and politics at the dinner table is the quickest way to cause conversation indigestion, there's one more topic that should be avoided: child rearing.
"Steer clear of politics, religion, and child rearing as it's the hostess's duty to keep the conversation moving in the right direction. I often find that the best parents are the ones without children," says Lisa Vanderpump, author of "Simply Divine: A Guide to Easy, Elegant and Affordable Entertaining" and is featured on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills."
As the hostess, you have another duty. "Don't complain. Your guests will appreciate what you made and don't need to know about what you really wanted to make them," says Coco of Vidacoco.com.
Glitter go lightly - A bit of shine and sparkle livens up any party decor. Try not to use glittered items with the same childlike abandon used to toss handfuls of silver tinsel on a tree. "Don't use heavily glittered items on a table where you are sitting down to a meal. Glitter often flakes off the leaf and could end up in your food," says Marie Ackerman, Vice President Education, Teleflora.
Save the dish washing - When you have a small home, or can't stand to see dirty dishes in the sink, you may be tempted to do a full cleaning while guests are still in your home. It may be tough to follow this one, especially if cleaning up after the meal and before dessert is a holiday habit. By waiting until later, you can enjoy more time with your guests.
"While clearing dirty dishes and glasses away is acceptable, never begin washing or loading the dishwasher or cleaning your kitchen, regardless of if your kitchen is visible or not. It's rude and signals the end of a party. Save it for after your guests have left," explains Katie Jordan of Flourish Events in Greenville, S.C.
Pet control - "When entertaining in your home, do not allow pets to wander freely, and always have allergy medicine on hand for anyone who may have a cat or dog allergy," advises Jordan.
Make a clean sweep - Sometimes cleaning up is a subtle way to keep guests from overstaying their welcome. "If you are stuck with guests who won't take the hint when the party's over and it's time to go home, ask them to help you clean up; either way, it will help things move faster," says award-winning Maitre d' Felix Albano of Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse in New York City.