If your holiday social calendar looks anything like ours, then we know your next few weeks are filled with celebration and cheer. Whether you’re poppin’ champagne and counting down until midnight or hosting a multi-course holiday dinner party, we’ve got some essential advice to transform you into the hostess with the mostess. Seasoned pros and newbie hostesses, listen up: Here are 12 faux-pas you don’t want to make when it comes to hosting a party.

1. Being Secretive on Invites: If you’re emailing your invite, don’t hide addresses or be vague about the event — your guests want to know what they’re getting into. DO inquire about food allergies and ask your guests to RSVP so you can have a headcount. (via Good)

2. Forgetting the Vegetarian: These days, you never know who’s going Paleo, vegan or gluten free. When planning your menu, always ask if anyone has any food restrictions and try to accommodate them. (via Free People)

3. Putting Demands on Guests: Most “good” guests will ask if there is anything they can bring, and the polite response should always be, “You don’t need to bring anything.” If Marge’s famous sauerkraut won’t pair well with the prix-fixe meal you’re planning, things can go sour. Keep the focus on making your guests feel good. (via The New York Times)

4. Prying: If someone says “no thanks,” don’t ask them why. Never force seconds on someone who still has food on their plate, and if alcohol is involved, no means no. (via Atlanta Eats)

5. Apologizing: Never apologize for your cooking, a la Julia Child. Don’t underestimate yourself or fish for compliments. If the creme brulee was too jiggly for your friend’s new boyfriend’s palate, own it. Never apologize.

6. Attempting a Maiden Voyage: A dinner party is not the time for experiments or surprises. If you have your heart set on a new dish, make sure you give it a trial run on family and close friends first. (via Bon Appètit)

7. Getting Too Tipsy: As the “responsible” one, your job is to make sure everyone’s glasses are full, but not filled to the point of no return. While you don’t have to abstain from the bubbly, you’ll need your wits about you if you are serving, clearing and mingling. (via Domain)

8. Refusing to Open Hostess Offerings: This one’s a tough one, and may have to be decided spur of the moment. However, if someone brings a bottle of wine, open it and share, unless they insist you reserve it for another time. (via Salty Seattle)

9. Leaving Dirty Dishes ‘Til the Next Day: Don’t rush to do the dishes while your guests are around, but save yourself the agony and consider doing them (or at least soaking them!) after the last guest has left. (via Domaine)

10. Denying The Helper Friend: You know that friend who can’t possibly resist helping? Don’t turn her down — take advantage, ’cause the quicker the cleanup, the more party time for you. (via The Star)

11. Playing Loud Music: You may love your music, but it’s called background music for a reason, amiright? A playlist is a nice touch, but just be sure it’s not front and center — save that for the entree. (via Time Out Abu Dhabi)

12. Writing Thank You Notes: A hostess gift is a “thank you,” so there’s no need to send a thank you note for it. If you really must express your gratitude, send a quick email sharing how the wine was the perfect end to a hectic week. (via Bon Appètit)

Okay, hostesses, spill your secrets for hosting the perfect dinner party in the comments below.