As the holidays inch closer you can’t help but look forward to the freedom of enjoying a break from work, not to mention lots of decadent food, special cocktails and eggnog (not really).

It’s time for the season of festive celebrations, but with all the parties, people and food comes a lot of planning when it’s your time to host. Although it may seem a bit overwhelming, don’t worry; we’ve got you covered.

Colin Cowie, HSN host and celebrity party planner extraordinaire for stars like Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian, sat down with us and passed on a few of his best tips for planning that perfect holiday soiree.

1. Music

Make a playlist of 80-85% of your favourite, non-Christmas songs, and then take 15-20% of your best Christmas songs and fit them in between. The 80-20 ratio of regular songs to Christmas songs will prevent you—and your guests—from getting overwhelmed with “holiday cheer.” “I think when you don’t listen to holiday music all the time, you want to treat yourself [with some].”

2. Food

“When it comes to what we eat, what we taste, no one has the time today to start cooking things by yourself.” Use store-bought gourmet food that you can put out for your guests. If you don’t have a lot of room, a great way to save space is by making a big dish, such as a turkey stew, and place coffee cups around it so the guests can help themselves. “That way, you don’t have to have a plate and a fork and a spoon for everyone, because sometimes when you’re young, you don’t exactly have a big two-bedroom apartment, you might be in studio.”

3. Décor

Start from the front door and work your way throughout the rest of the house. Choose a theme and stick with it. Mixed metals are popular this season, bringing together silvers, sparkles and even mirror panels. Red and gold are also perfect colours to incorporate into everything, from the invitations to decorations. “Dream with one big idea.”

4. Smell

“There is no such thing as too many candles.” Avoid placing fragrances near the food by spreading them throughout other areas of the house. Small candles also make great stocking stuffers that are easy to personalize. Colin suggests the limited edition Febreze Cranberries & Frost scented candles, which you can write someone’s name on and wrap as thoughtful party favours.

5. Colin’s Golden Rule

“Do as much as you can in advance. There’s nothing fun about running around when your guests arrive, thinking you’re left behind. Do it all the night before so it allows you to be a gracious host. Twenty minutes before your guests come, go put on a fresh outfit, lipstick, throw on a pair of heels, take 10 deep breaths and go enjoy yourself.”

Happy Holidays to all!