December means social calendars that are filling up — and filling up fast! Babysitters are getting scooped up, restaurants are booking up and tacky Christmas sweaters are flying off the shelves (okay, maybe that one’s a stretch!). If you’re one who prefers to have the party come to you, we’re here to share some entertaining tips from an expert. Malia Palma is the creative lady behind Lettermade, a line of hand-embroidered linens that are special, cheeky and beautiful. Started in 2014, Lettermade set out to give warmth to the home by making entertaining both easy and stylish — no easy feat. For that reason, we tapped Malia to share her personal best tips — the ones she carries out in her own home when hosting — for inviting friends into the home and ensuring they leave with fond (and fun!) memories.

Malia Palma is the entertaining guru behind Lettermade. She’s here to share her best holiday entertaining tips with us!

Malia’s 5 Simple Tips for Entertaining with Ease

Play Some Tunes

“Always keep the playlist running! Good music helps set the tone for a fun evening,” Malia shares. Something playing softly in the background keeps there from being any unwelcome silence, and it also can help set the mood. The louder the music, the more lively the party, so choose accordingly. And the same goes for the music choice itself. Instead of playing your favorite holiday playlist, try something a little bit unexpected this season. Malia suggests, “I love mixing it up with ’80s, ’90s, some jazz, Motown … a little bit of everything!”

Pay Attention to Lighting

In addition to the volume and selection of music, lighting plays a huge role in setting the tone of a party. While it’s tempting to light up the entire house, your guests will feel more at ease with softer lighting. For an especially festive flair, light plenty of candles around your home. The romantic flicker lends itself to cozy conversations and is immensely more welcoming than the alternative. Malia shares, “Lots of candles and lamps are always prettier and more welcoming than harsh overhead lighting.”

RELATED: Holiday Cocktails to Sip on This Season

Plan Ahead

“Guests are only as comfortable as their host,” Malia explains. If you’re running around frantically as guests arrive, they might feel out of place or unwelcome. To avoid this, plan ahead! One week before, decide what can be done before the day of your party and make a list. This will give you more time to tie up the loose ends that inevitably arise on party day. “If you’re having a dinner party, set the table the night before so there’s less to do the next day,” Malia advises. And if you don’t get to something … don’t fret over it. Malia reminds us that once guests arrive, those last details are better left undone. “Remember that enjoying time with your family and friends is what it’s all about.”

Set the table for a dinner party the night before so that your party day is as stress-free as possible!

Plant Conversation Starters

If you’re gathering a group who might not be familiar with one another, bear in mind that making connections and initiating conversations among guests is imperative. As the host, you have the opportunity to introduce new friends or new business partners, or even potential couples, so thoughtfully sparking conversation is a way you can set your party apart. Malia tells us, “One of the things I love about our cocktail napkins is that they’re conversation starters. Hand someone a linen cocktail napkin embroidered with Oprah or Iris Apfel, and I guarantee it’ll spark conversation!”

Cheeky cocktail napkins make for conversation starters — and, of course, are handy, too!

RELATED: RECIPE: Super Easy Stuffed Mini Pepper Appetizer

Enjoy the Party

And the most important tip of them all? Enjoy yourself! Your guests will naturally feed off of your energy, so a relaxed and happy host will invite them to feel the same. After all, what’s the point of throwing a party if you cannot enjoy it yourself? Malia emphasizes, “Pour delicious cocktails for your friends, and then make one for yourself. Or better yet, make yourself one ahead of their arrival!” Loosen up, ignite some fun conversation and enjoy your evening — the hard part is behind you!

Pour yourself a cocktail before your guests arrive to slip out of preparation mode and into party time!

Thank you, Malia, for sharing your tips! You can purchase Lettermade cocktail napkins now in SB Shop — whether you’re hosting and need a few sets for yourself or attending and need a few sets to gift, they are bound to be the conversation starters you need this season. 

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