‘Tis the season to entertain, cook, and wow *all* your guests. Follow our RSVP series with Rachel Parcell through November and December for tips, tricks, and inspiration. Happy holiday party season, all!

From assembling the decor to entertaining guests, hosting a dinner party can become a tedious task, draining your energy and bank account. The good news is, it doesn’t have to! Over the years, my love for hosting has taught me that it’s not so much about incorporating expensive decor, but more about creating a beautiful atmosphere. See below for some of my top tips for putting together a stylish dinner party that every guest will enjoy, without breaking the bank!

1. Set the mood with scent. The very first thing your guests will notice when they enter your home won’t be the decor or the food or even who is in attendance — it will be the smell. Choose a scent that’s refreshing and welcoming because it will set the tone for the entire evening.

2. Fresh flowers are a must. The fun part about hosting a dinner party is you get to choose the theme, including what decorations and centerpiece to use for your tabletop. I almost always opt for fresh-cut flowers. You can easily create your own affordable arrangement by popping into your local grocery store or flower shop and picking up a few bouquets.

3. Make a statement on your tabletop. When it comes to setting the table, try a unique glass or flatware to add personality. I typically love to use traditional white plates and chargers (Target or IKEA are great options for affordable ones). But be sure to think outside the box for glasses or utensils that will make a statement as opposed to blending in.

4. Add personal touches. Consider where your guests will sit for the dinner and who they’ll feel comfortable next to and have an enjoyable time with. When hosting for more than eight to 10 people, I’d recommend having name tags. They don’t have to be fancy or expensive either. You can simply print them off at home in your favorite font or hand letter them yourself.

5. Consider the menu ahead of time. Something that I always do before hosting a party is make sure I know guests’ dietary restrictions or allergies. This is super important and needs to be taken into account early enough so you can plan accordingly and get the best ingredients at the best price, and not in a last-minute rush.

For more entertaining tips and decor inspo, check out my blog Pink Peonies, or see the latest on Instagram @RachParcell!

(Photos via Rachel Parcell)