If you are familiar with classic holiday movies you probably remember that the Grinch nearly ruined Whoville’s jolly atmosphere and that Ebenezer Scrooge dampened others’ joyful mood. If you are attending a holiday get-together, follow these guidelines so you can be a cheery holiday host or guest, not a Grinch or a Scrooge.

Party Host

Your job as host is to plan and throw a party your guests will enjoy. These steps can help make your party a success.

Get the party started
You first need to let your guests know who is invited and other important details, such as what, where, and when. Keep in mind that, “Whether it is a text invite, a phone call, or an engraved invitation, the nature of that invite sets the tone for the event,” says Daniel Post Senning, copresident of The Emily Post Institute. The holidays can be busy, so get your invites out early before your guests’ calendars fill up.

Put out a spread
Food and drink are often the center of a holiday party, so put some thought into your menu. Depending on whether your get-together will be formal or casual, you could plan a three-course meal, or simply put out a collection of finger foods. It’s up to you—your guests might even appreciate just having a selection of decadent desserts.

Get into the spirit

’Tis the season, so you’ll want to add holiday flair to your festivities. You don’t have to be too fancy; you can keep the decor simple with sprigs of evergreen, garlands of paper snowflakes, and strings of lights. A playlist of holiday tunes will add a lively vibe.

Exchanging gifts
Presents are a holiday tradition, so let your guests know if your party will include a gift exchange. You could host a white elephant game, in which everyone anonymously brings a wrapped present, and who gets what is partially left to chance. Or you could host a secret Santa exchange and pair up guests to give and receive gifts. These games can be enjoyable icebreakers—partygoers will have a blast trying to figure out who brought which gifts.

Be a good host
As the host, your role is to make sure everyone enjoys the party. Talk with your guests during your event and say goodbye when they leave, Senning says. These suggestions could help increase your party’s fun factor:

  • Provide seasonal props, such as oversized snowflakes, extra-long holiday scarves, and oversized faux snowflakes, that your guests can pose with for photos.
  • Think of a theme for your party. For example, you could ask everyone to bring homemade cookies to swap or wear an ugly holiday sweater.
  • Plan party activities and games, such as a holiday-themed bingo game or decorating gingerbread houses.

Party Guest

As a guest, there are also things to keep in mind to help foster a better party.

RSVP and mind your manners
Make sure you respond to the invitation. “The most common mistake people make is not responding,” Senning says. “Sometimes people have difficulties saying no.” If you don’t accept or decline an invite, your host won’t have an accurate head count to plan the party. You should also arrive on time, actively participate, and be polite to other guests.

Thank your host
It’s thoughtful to bring a small gift for your host, such as mulling spices for holiday beverages, winter-themed drink coasters, or holiday-scented soap. Also, be sure to thank the party’s organizer when you leave or remember to follow up later.

Offer to help clean up
Parties are fun, but the cleanup afterward is not. Give your friend or family member who hosted the get-together a hand and help put things away, or offer to take out the trash and recycling after the party winds down.