The Minimal-Effort Party Plan You Need To Master

Photographed by Angi Welsch.
It's hard to resist throwing a party this time of year. Cold, dark nights call for candlelight and cozy, carby food. But, when invites start storming your inbox and overtaking your calendar, it's easy to think you don't have time to throw your own. That simply isn't true — you just have to know a few key shortcuts.
To prove it, we turned to one of the busiest people we know: Anna Plaks, our VP of brand experiences. Her schedule is perpetually booked, yet she always finds time to throw the most epic get-togethers. They're never overdone, but they are always perfectly done. So, when we teamed up with Pier 1 Imports to plan an after-work, cheer-filled cocktail hour, we knew Anna was hosting.
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She’s full of easy-to-apply tips for making even the most impromptu, slapdash holiday get-together feel planned, purposeful, and festive. Follow her lead, and brush off your best party dress. All the ideas you need are right here.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Maximize a single flower bouquet by turning it into several little ones.
"The key is to separate them into different vessels of varying heights," Anna says. "You can spread the flowers all over the apartment. It's amazing how much that changes the energy."
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Turn simple snacks into an elevated spread.
Here, Anna lays out foods that can be mixed and matched: Castelvetrano olives, almonds, sourdough bread, and cheeses like Parmesan and Gouda. "I always make sure to have snacks that don't go bad on hand," she says.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Encourage guests to keep moving by making food portable.
To keep people from congregating around just a few spots, ensure plenty of plates are distributed throughout your space. That way guests can grab what they want and keep moving.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Transform your space by using existing furniture in a new way.
If you don't have a wet bar at the ready, take a look around. Many types of furniture have potential to be turned into a bar. "I usually take my entry console and make it into a bar with all the fixings," she says. Jazz it up with some candles and flowers.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Minimize your work by having guests DIY their own (easy) cocktail.
"I usually have one you can make yourself and then red and white wine," says Anna. For this party, she chose Moscow Mules, and because proper glassware is key, she uses the drink's traditional mug to ensure each one stays ice cold. Plus, easy-to-make drinks like this let your guests entertain themselves.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Elevate basic ice with herbs and flowers.
Infusing ice with something extra not only makes drinks feel more special, it makes them taste better, too. And, it's easy. Here, Anna uses mint, but let your imagination run wild. Try basil, rosemary, lavender, or raspberries — really, whatever you want.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Give guests something to do — and talk about.
This is especially true if guests don't all know each other. These holiday party crackers pop when you open them and are filled with festive items that make cute conversation pieces.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Be comfortable, always.
Anna's all about one-piece items that require little more than a red lip and a statement piece. This is her go-to party look. "It's amazing because it's just one piece to throw on and go, and it's super comfortable and flowy."
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Use one bold decorative touch to create an instant party feel.
For apartment dwellers short on space, your best bet is to go with a bold dash of color, shape, or texture. Here, Anna indulges her love of all things shiny and sparkly with a vintage-style garland, hung through the center of the room. A comfy throw, some mood lighting, and her puppy, Bijoux, complete the look.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Set the vibe to cozy with mood lighting — everywhere.
Anna loves the soft glow of candlelight, so she groups candles throughout her space. "I put two to three on all the major surfaces in the main room and then have singular votives on the higher shelf surfaces,” she says.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Create multiple food spreads to ensure guests use the whole space.
Where there's food, there's people. Create the ideal flow by putting snacks wherever you want people to hang out — be it the kitchen, the living room, or even outside. Anna strategizes by making sure food in the living room is as abundant as it is in the dining room.
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Be a guest at your own party — or at least try to be.
It's not that you have to have everything ready before the first guest arrives, but do try to set everything out early in the evening. That way you won't trouble yourself with refills mid-party. "I let guests serve themselves," says Anna. "It's easier for me and much less stressful for them."
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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Make sure the music's on — and can be heard everywhere.
Anna likes to employ strategically placed Bluetooth speakers in the bathroom and throughout her apartment, so every conversation has a killer soundtrack.

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Photographed by Angi Welsch.
Be consistent with color to create a cohesive, planned look.
Here, Anna took her color scheme one step further by wrapping tiny, potted succulents in leftover gold wrapping paper. She then distributed them around her apartment for an effect that was far more deliberate than last-minute.
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