Hosting friends and family, dealing with unexpected guests, and throwing an impromptu dinner party can leave any host feeling frazzled during the holiday season. Advanced planning and the right tools will ensure that your guests always feel welcome and are left wondering how you managed to pull off that last-minute gathering.

During the busiest time of the year, I always expect the unexpected guest and keep the following on hand:

• Stock up on frozen hors d’oeuvres. Keep a couple packages of hors d’oeuvres in your freezer so you can pop them in the oven for a quick bite to eat.

• Hide a Swiffer in the hall closet. When a friend or relative lets you know they’re just around the corner, you can quickly sweep before they pull into the driveway or clean up so quickly and efficiently after the party.

• Keep a few bottles of sparkling wine chilling in the fridge along with a couple of bottles of vodka and plenty of ice in the freezer. . Add a splash of cranberry juice or a handful of frozen berries and you have a festive cocktail in a flash.

• Put out lots of candles. – there is no such thing as enough! Lighting a Febreze scented candle can both mask unwanted odours – in case you just burnt a batch of cookies or worse – and create a welcoming holiday ambience.

• Decorate with fresh potted flowers. Flowers help to make your home beautiful and elegant. For the holidays I like to fill rooms with beautiful amaryllis which is chic and luxe and comes in white and peach aswell. For a more traditional look use red and white poinsettias.

Follow these tips to turn chaos into calm and enjoy spending time with friends and family this holiday season.

Colin Cowie is the party planner of choice for celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Tom Cruise, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian. What sets Colin apart is his experiential approach to design; what you smell, touch, taste, feel and hear are carefully orchestrated to create the ultimate experience.

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