5 Expert Tips to Wow Holiday Guests at the Door

Designers, chefs, and entertainers extraordinaire share tips on making guests feel welcome over the holiday season.

House BeautifulHouse Beautiful1. Light Candles or Spices
"A good smell in the air is an unconscious cue to everyone that they're expected, that something good is in store for them, that they're going to be taken care of. Sometimes I burn rosemary in the fireplace, or put it in a cast-iron pan, light it on fire, and walk around the house with the pan, letting the smoke and scent go all over the house." -Alice Waters

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2. Play Holiday Music
House BeautifulHouse Beautiful
Playing the cheery tunes of the season will not only put your guests in a festive moodjun, but also yourself! "I have a well-programmed iPod with playlists for every mood." -Colin Cowie

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House BeautifulHouse Beautiful 3. Greet Your Guests in Person & Spend Time With Them
"The best way to make your guests feel welcome is to make sure you're the first person they see when they arrive and the last person they see when they depart. Greet each guest warmly and personally. I also like to station a server at the door with a tray of drinks for guests to help transport them into the party. Good hosts make sure to prepare everything in advance so they can be guests at their own party." -David Tutera

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4. Offer A Warm Appetizer House BeautifulHouse Beautiful
"Serve at least one hors d'oeuvre fresh from the oven, so they feel the warmth right away. Think about ways to engage all the senses. Aroma is so important, but it should be real smells - a crackling fire, or baking bread." -Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

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5. Get Into the Holiday Spirit House BeautifulHouse Beautiful
"If you go into a house and there's tension in the air, you can practically taste it. Don't get edgy with family members if the food, table, or flowers aren't perfect. It's the spirit of your home that will linger with people long after they forget what you fed them. I'm not suggesting it's okay to serve a tasteless turkey in a sloppy home, but give yourself permission to have fun from the start - no matter what happens - and it will be a lot more fun for your guests."- Danny Meyer

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Photos: 1)Anna Yu/iStock 2) Paul Fleet/iStock 3) Joe Biafore/iStock 4) KellyCline/iStock 5) Missing35mm/iStock

What are YOUR tips for Holiday Hosts?

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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.