Throwing a party might be easy but throwing a good party is not, especially when you start totting up these potential pitfalls:

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1. Drinking too early

While you’re slaving away over the canapés in the afternoon, it’s tempting to make sure the rum punch you’ve just mixed isn’t too strong. Five glasses later and you can barely stand up to welcome your guests, so forget about seeing in midnight. A little tipsy = good. Paralytic host = bad.

2. Burning the food

In your effort to be the life and soul (aka centre of attention), you’ve spent too long chatting to your guests and not enough time watching what’s going on in the kitchen. The timer pinged half an hour ago and smoke’s just about to set off the smoke alarm, so your entire building will have to evacuate and shiver outside in your finery. Party’s over.

3. Being tense

Someone’s just chucked a glass of red wine on your new cream carpet that you’ve been telling everyone was really expensive. Do you a) make minimal fuss and subtly try and clear it up or b) scream at your guest until you’re red in the face and they’re getting their coat? Hmmm…

4. Insisting on games

Not everyone is a fan of charades or Trivial Pursuit or those crackers that come with whistles … trying to make people have fun is the quickest way to ensuring they won’t. Don’t push it and you might find they’re up for a little light entertainment (besides Jools Holland) before midnight after all.

5. Showing off

Don’t be tempted to dig out the latest photos of your children/grandchildren/pet doing cute or clever things, or take everyone on a tour to see the newly-installed combi boiler that’s “quiet as a mouse”. They’re at your house because they like you, but they might like you less if you bang on about yourself and your own too much.

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6. Match-making

You’ve purposely invited John and Sue, who both split from their other halves in the last six months, and you’d very much like to see them share a kiss at midnight under one of the ten bunches of mistletoe you’ve conveniently hung all over the house. You know what? Actually manhandling them into a clinch might be going too far.

7. Arguing

So you’re not keen on your friend’s other half, and they might be a bigoted misogynist, but don’t let alcohol loosen your tongue enough to tell them. You’re likely to lose your friend and kill the mood of the evening completely. If you really can’t stand them, keep filling their punch glass and see what happens…

8. Getting sleepy

We’re all culprits of the alcohol-induced, post-adrenaline buzz nod-off. But it’s a little rude if you start snoring in front of a houseful of guests. Worse still, you try and get in a sneaky nap and wake up at 3am to an empty house. Serve coffee after dinner and make yours a strong one.