June 20, 2014 at 1:00 am

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Fun, colorful summer luncheon celebrates friendships

It does not take a lot to make a magical moment at a table ó if you have a plan. (MCT)

Sometimes you just need to surround yourself with a klatch of best friends. And, with your life so crazy busy, all thatís keeping you from pulling everyone together is a good reason. Hereís one: Itís summer!

I just hosted a summer luncheon of friends at my house, and hereís what I did to make the setting bright and beautiful. It doesnít take a lot to make a magical moment, if you have a plan:

Pick a theme thatís easy to execute: Since my luncheon was going to be a group of women, I decided to embrace the estrogen and make this a frilly affair. My theme was girly-girl, and I brought it to life with lots of flouncy flowers and oodles of pink.

If you are struggling with a color scheme for your event because you feel it has to match the decor in your dining room, donít! Youíll be surprised how much rein you have with your party color palette if you look at all the colors that are really in your room. I struggled with this when I picked the colors for my luncheon, and was pretty sure I would need to pull out the Persian-style rug under my table for fear it would clash with all that bubblegum pink. But it was amazing how great the pink looked with the navy, coral and rusty orange in the rug.

Create a low-work, high impact centerpiece: I went for a simple but stunning treatment. I filled two blue and white cachepots with hot pink flowers, set them atop risers to give them more presence, and dotted the area around them with some sweet white porcelain bird vases, each filled with little nosegays of pink flowers. Done!

Let your table linens make a statement: Instead of using a large tablecloth, I came up with the idea to crisscross the table with some hot pink linen table runners ó a fun departure from the 52-inch tablecloth I often use. I decided to place our monogram at the ends of each table runner and use navy thread to pull my color scheme together. At the ends of the table, I used matching hot pink place mats, since runners wouldnít work there.

Mix up your dishes: I started with a large, plain white dish used as a charger, then layered up with a dinner plate, salad plate, bread plate and cup and saucer.

What lovely dishes are languishing in your china hutch? Bring them out and invite them to the party. Donít stress if you donít have enough to have a matched set for each guest. I only have six table settings of my gold rimmed china, so I used different plates at the ends of the table, pulling everything together by using the same chargers.

Treat each guest to a little gift: One of my favorite things to do when I entertain is to give my guests a gift, a small memento to help them remember our time together. I found some little hot pink boxes at the dime store that resembled old hat boxes. Inside each one I placed an inexpensive blue and white porcelain box. I collect small boxes, and blue and white porcelain is one of my favorite things in the world, so, really, I shared a bit of myself with them.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com. She can be reached at marycarol@nellhills.com.