The Stress-Free Guide to Impressing Everyone as a First-Time Host

first-time holiday host
credit: Hunker

Hosting can already ignite anxiety and panic (and then some) for most people. Add in first-time hosting duties, and that's a recipe for stress. So how do you A) create cool holiday vibes without going overboard, B) wow your guests, and C) do it all without a meltdown?

The answer is D: Tap our curated round-up of stress-free essentials to accomplish all of the above. From finding the right serving dish that says modern-yet-traditional to getting dressed for your big debut, you'll have a blueprint for ultimate host status.

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Whether you hang it over your mantle, on top of your dining room table, or over your front door, this 72-inch artificial garland instantly brings those festive feels to life without having to snake a real (ahem, shedding) 40-foot garland around your house. Bonus: Use Target's same-day pickup feature to snag it as a last-minute centerpiece.

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Once you've got one set of twinkle lights up your sleeve, you're set for years to come. These minimal globes add a touch of holiday magic to the air, but can also be used for festivities all year long.

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Instagram loves a good letterboard, so create your own welcome sign that introduces your family and friends to the holiday event of the season. Plus, you'll have everyone in the room reposting you.

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Now that you have the decor basics down, it's time to set the mood. Bring in some warm, cozy vibes with this whiskey and oak candle (with a crackling wood wick!) for a punch of hygge. All you need is one candle and the ambience is good to go.

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Another must for hosting is to always (and we mean always) have some soft music playing in the background. Do the least amount of work for a major mood-boosting payoff with this Bose Wireless Speaker—just hit play on that holiday playlist and enjoy.

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If you're a first-time host, you might not have any family-facing plates you're proud of—but these grown-up dinner ones are your answer. The subtle detailing gives off an instant cool factor and won't clash with anything as your style changes.

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A bar cart is a definite if you're hosting a boozy affair, because who wants to be stuck playing bartender while your friends and fam are sipping and mingling? (Plus, having a designated spot for drinks shows that you, like, totally know what you're doing.)

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Outfit your bar cart with this all-in-one mixology kit to cross bartending gear off from your holiday hosting list once and for all. You'll never ask, "Where is the cocktail shaker?!" ever again.

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Every household needs a set of cheers-worthy glasses to whip out for special occasions, and these are the staple glasses to keep in your pantry. They add an elegant flair to your toasting moment.

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You've got your glasses and plates, now let's add a serving dish. This durable, ceramic serving platter is the ultimate vessel for your signature holiday meal (even if you secretly ordered in).

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To round out your hosting essentials, you can't forget about you. Picking out an easy-to-move-in but still elevated look is key, so try a black jumpsuit you can dress up with a bold set of earrings and a statement shoe. Did you just become a holiday hosting pro?