By Molly Shea

It’s officially holiday party season; that time of year dedicated to eating, drinking, and exchanging thoughtful gifts. Conveniently, it’s also the best time to show off your sleek digs and serious hosting skills, leaving guests impressed with your stepped-up taste. Because you won’t throw any old gift swap or potluck. No, this winter, you’ll turn a ho-hum get-together into a stylish sensory experience, layering the latest music, holiday decorations, sippable cocktails, and a symphony of seasonal scents for a party your friends will never forget.

Overwhelmed? Don’t be. The key to any good gathering is taking things one step at a time, building detail upon detail until you’ve reached the right blend of fun and festive. Start with a signature drink or candle scent, add music and decorations to match, then top it off with one last touch.

Below, find tips to incorporate each of the five senses in one fête, from mixing up custom cocktails to selecting the best WoodWick crackling candle (or two) for the occasion. Here’s how to throw the party of the season.

Let’s face it: Winter flowers just don’t pack the same punch as their spring or summer counterparts. Embrace the change in weather, swapping traditional blooms for a centerpiece with seasonal touches that pack a scent punch, like clove-studded oranges or fresh eucalyptus stems paired with a WoodWick candle (White Teak works wonders here). The setup will make a statement and cement your status as hostess extraordinaire.

Create extra seating for friends by styling plush pillows or floor cushions around the room, propping them against a coffee table or atop a storage chest. Jewel-toned couch-toppers add splashes of color and let guests gather where they please, rather than wherever there’s a spare chair. Top it off with soft, textural blankets for an added layer of luxury that elevates an already festive environment.

Like the feeling of silk blended with cashmere or the taste of chocolate chip cookies topped with sea salt, the most sophisticated scents come from not one but two carefully-paired candles. Pick a couple different but complementary jarred wax candles — say, WoodWick’s Crimson Berries and Frasier Fir — and position them near one another. You might place one near the entrance and the other on your kitchen island, or nestle both together on your coffee table. The scents will shift and layer as guests mingle and move around the room, leaving friends guessing at what’s gone into your signature scent.

Skip the basic wines and beers and master a couple brag-worthy (and social media-friendly) cocktails, like gingery mezcal mules and hot chocolate spiked with creamy peppermint schnapps. Looking for a drink that’ll wow your most discerning friends? Try mixing up this wintery specialty cocktail, created by recognized cocktail expert and recipe developer Lucinda Sterling. In a cocktail shaker, combine 1.5 ounces of gin, .75 ounces spruce shrub, .75 ounces maple syrup, and .75 ounces lemon juice with ice. Give it a hearty shake or two, then strain into glassware and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. You’ll be the toast of the party — and leave your kitchen smelling like a wintery forest.

By this point in the season, everyone’s heard their fill of holiday classics. Step up the sounds by mixing musical genres, letting friends play ‘record roulette’ with their favorites from your collection. Set out a pre-selected handful of options and put your record player front and center. Strictly a 21st-century household? Start a playlist with a couple current favorite songs, then ask friends for their picks once they arrive. You can even up the auditory ante by place a WoodWick candle (like Fireside) across the room. The crackling sound of the burning wick paired with your guest's curated tracks will round out everyone's holiday experience.

Photo: David A. Land; Prop Stylist: Olga Grigorenko; Art Direction: Hannah Chua/BDG; Creative Lead: Molly Kugelmann/BDG; Branded Lead: Allison Berry/BDG; Production: Danica Butkovich/BDG.

This post is sponsored by WoodWick Candles.