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Putting snacks into glass containers with long necks allows guests to pour out each serving rather than reaching into a communal bowl. In addition to being sanitary, the clean-lined vessels look fresh and modern.
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Mix and Match
If your guest list exceeds your place setting count, get creative. Look at a local second-hand store for extra sets of dishes, glassware, flatware and serving pieces. Look for pieces of the same style, color, theme, or sensibility. Variety adds interest and excitement to your table. And if your place settings don't match, try different looks for cocktails, dinner, and dessert courses. Linens add even more style to your affair.
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Layer exotic woven fabric over a simple white linen cloth for dramatic effect. Bring playful elements to the table from seashell place-card holders, bud vases filled with lollipops, or twine-wrapped bunches of garden herbs. Guests love surprises and conversation pieces.
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With so much attention paid to the table, it's easy to forget that guests will be visiting your powder room, as well. Fresh and fancy hand towels, fragrant soaps, aromatic candles, and floral accents dress up a simple space. Another important consideration is coats and briefcases.
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Take your cues from the season. Visit your local farmers' market the week before your event and talk to the purveyors about what will be at peak ripeness the next weekend. Sweet berries for dessert, peppery arugula fresh from the field, local produce, seafood, and meats make meals more special. Farmers and other specialty food providers often have excellent recipe and serving suggestions for their products.
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Farmers' markets are a veritable outdoor florist: fresh cut branches with tiny buds, bunches of wild flowers, planters bursting with colorful blooms. When you're gathering your ingredients for dinner, gather a few edible blooms as well. Peppery nasturtiums, sweet bean blossoms and minty miniature pansies bring color and surprising flavor to salads or try freezing them into ice cubes for the bar.