I love the cocktail culture in the Pink Panther movie of the 1960s. It was so glamorous, so effortlessly swank -- and nobody seemed to be trying too hard. Since I can't get myself (or my friends) invited to one of those celluloid soirees, I do what I can to re-create the vibe when I entertain. I use lots of silver and glass: As many reflective surfaces as possible help set the stage. And I keep the menu limited -- there are options but not endless options. This makes it possible for me to spend time mixing with my guests rather than mixing drinks all night.
Gold-painted pears look straight out of a fairy tale on your Christmas table. This gold dust, however, isn't magic -- it's available at baking supply stores. Magnolia leaves are also transformed with gold floral paint.
For a more formal fete that's been weeks in the planning -- like an engagement party or a holiday gathering -- be sure to accent your offerings with a few of these showstoppers. And trust us: They're all easy enough for entertaining novices to tackle.