Hosting an epic holiday bash is an art, and there are a few tricks every hostess should have up her sleeve ahead of party season. For the best tips to ensure your festivity’s success, we went straight to the pros at VizEat and EatWith, two of the largest social eating platforms in the world. They connect travelers with hosts and know everything there is to know about all things entertaining. Here, read what some of their experts have to say about the secrets to a winning soirée.

1. Decorate your home. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money on decorations,” host Emilio Mesa of San Francisco, California, says. “Simple, personal, and seasonal touches make a big difference and keep it elegant.” Your decorations definitely don’t have to be too extravagant, but don’t shy away from small details like hand-written name cards.

2. Create a signature cocktail. This will help you stay within your bar cart budget and, as Mesa tells us, add “a new topic of conversation.” Better yet, make large batches, recommends host Christina Xenos of Los Angeles. “This can be a punch or a mix where you just need to add the spirit of choice and shake or stir,” she says. “That way, if you have multiple guests arrive at once, you can easily get drinks in their hands.”

3. Have hors d’oeuvres ready.Hors d’oeuvres are especially wonderful for holiday festivities. According to Dina Manganaris of Dina’s Kitchen in New York, the little bites spread joy and give you “extra time to finish cooking while guests get to know each other and mingle.” To ensure everyone has access to a nibble, place platters of apps in different areas so your guests can help themselves.

4. Don’t forget to mingle. Seriously, you should enjoy yourself too! “Be mindful of your guests and make sure to greet and chat with everyone,” says Xenos. “Connecting with your guests and making them feel welcome is just as important as having a delicious meal.”

5. Share a few secrets. Host Tess Geer of Washington DC calls this her “show and tell.” She recommends that every hostess “have a few items set aside to share with [her] guests.” You don’t have to bombard everyone with info, but be ready to offer up a few tips. “For me,” Geer says, “this might be the French mustard used in the salad dressing, the Lahm I use to score my baguettes, my favorite brand of cornichon, etc… ”

Ready to start planning your ultimate holiday bash? Follow us on Pinterest to brush up on even more hosting tips!

(Photos via VizEat and EatWith)