With the holiday season in full swing, you can expect to hear about the many family gatherings and dinner parties taking place among your friends and co-workers. You may even be the host of your very own holiday soiree. Whether you’ve never hosted a dinner party or you’re a seasoned vet, the thought of hosting even a small group of people may be overwhelming.

From recipe shopping to meal prep and presentation, here are 5 tips for making your event memorable and hassle-free:

  1. Assemble your guest list.

    Even if you’re hosting only a few people, it’s important to know who’s coming, and more importantly, their dietary restrictions. Having this information on hand will help you decide which foods to serve. Recipes for vegetarians and vegans can be just as enjoyable to anyone without dietary restrictions.

  2. Make a shopping list.

    Unless you’re asking guests to bring a side dish, it’s likely you’ll be preparing much of the food on your own. Decide which ingredients you can purchase ahead of time and which foods are best left for purchasing in the days before your event. (Hint: most produce spoils after a week in the refrigerator.) Using a calendar to plan your shopping trips is a great way to stay on track.

  3. Prep ahead.

    Use your Vitamix machine to take on tedious tasks like chopping vegetables, for instance. Some foods can even be made ahead of time and frozen. For example, Citrus Butter is great for drizzling on roasted vegetables or homemade bread and can be frozen until you’re ready to use it. On the other hand, any recipes that require you to add ingredients at the very end—such as Spinach and Artichoke Fondue—should be made within minutes of serving.

  4. Garnish.

    A sprig of thyme or mint leaf can add a festive garnish to the simplest of dishes. Though seemingly insignificant, your guests will appreciate the added touch.

  5. Clean as you go.

    If the accumulating mess has you feeling anxious, consider cleaning a little bit throughout the evening. It’ll reduce your workload once the night is over.