How to Be a Fabulous Holiday Party Host

Our experts share nine easy hostessing tips on how to make a dinner party successful - not stressful!

1. Stick with what you know. "Don't try a new recipe at a party." -Tricia Foley, designer/author

2. Give yourself a head start. "Serve the first course family-style by placing platters on the table for everyone to share. It gives you time to work on your next course." -Lidia Bastianich, TV host, chef/cookbook author

3. Start on time. "Don't wait for late guests. People resent being hungry." -Isaac Mizrahi, fashion designer

Related: Beautiful Designer Kitchens

4. Have guests make their own drinks. "Let guests make their own cocktails. I have a few favorite recipes on cards, and all the ingredients on hand. People mix and shake and think it's super-fun." -Paul Lowe, food/prop stylist, Sweet Paul

5. Stock up on essentials. "Never, never, never run out of ice." -Bryan Batt, actor/shop owner

Related: Must-Have Kitchen Gadget Gifts

6. Encourage guests to meet each other. "Always, always make introductions. If you're going to make a guest feel alienated, why invite them?" -Jessica Nell Graves,

7. Be inclusive. "Don't discuss topics that exclude others. It's a surefire way to deflate a party." -Jayne Michaels, designer

Related: 10 Holiday Decorating Don'ts

8. Have guests help out. "I discovered early on that the best parties involve a certain amount of serendipity. I try not to have everything done when the guests arrive so that people can pitch in and help in the kitchen. It's a great ice-breaker." -Ruth Reichl, author/former editor, Gourmet magazine

9. Keep a sense of humor. "Don't take yourself too seriously. Anything goes these days with your table decor and menu, so have fun." -Tobi Fairley, designer

Are you a pro at party planning? What is your number one tip?

More from House Beautiful:
Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.