He organized the lush Santa Barbara polo match during Will and Kate’s North American tour this summer and was the mastermind behind the Emmys’ eco-friendly red carpet. But when L.A.-based party planner Brian Worley throws a bash of his own at home, he sticks to one basic rule: “I want it to be as simple as possible,” he says. Even the most basic party can have a fun twist: For an impromptu get-together, Worley suggests raising the bar on a simple pizza party by cutting up the pies in small strips that can be served with a variety of dips. “It’s a more social and interactive party. It all revolves around the dipping!” says Worley, who rounds out the menu with a signature drink (“My mom’s amazing sangria is so easy to make!” he says) and a dessert bar of store-bought goodies that can all be prepped before the delivery man—and your guests!—ring the doorbell. “For the holidays there’s so much going on, and we’re all so stressed out,” says Worley. “Doing something simple like this makes your life easy.” And it helps focus the host on what’s truly important. “For me, the holidays are not about going over the top,” Worley says. “It’s about getting together with family and friends and actually enjoying time with your guests.”
Makes 8 to 10 drinks
Combine 4 cups lemonade, 1 bottle fruity red or white wine, 1 cup pomegranate juice, ½ cup orange juice, 1 cup blackberries, ½ cup halved seedless red grapes, 1 orange, sliced into thin rounds, and 1 red apple, cored and chopped, in a pitcher and stir to combine.
THREE QUICK DIPS
1. BACON RANCH
Makes 2 cups
Combine 1½ cups prepared or bottled ranch dressing and ½ cup cooked chunks of bacon. Garnish with additional bacon.
2. ROASTED RED PEPPER & SOUR CREAM
Makes 2 cups
In a blender or food processor, pulse 1 16 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained, 1 cup light sour cream, 6 basil leaves, 1 tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. fresh ground pepper until incorporated.
3. GARLIC & OLIVE OIL
Makes 1 cup
Combine 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 cloves (1 tbsp.) finely chopped garlic, 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning, ½ tsp. lemon pepper, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. chili flakes and the juice of half a lemon in a bowl. Let flavors meld for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
BRIAN’S DESSERT BUFFET
To top off the night, invite your friends to satisfy their cravings with a “candy island” stocked with store-bought childhood faves. “It’s like an interactive candy store,” says Worley, who suggests nostalgic treats like Pixy Stix, Clark Bars, Hostess Cupcakes and frosted animal cookies. An extra touch? “Have little to-go bags so guests can take stuff home.”