The Southern Table: Use Beautiful Basics
The Elegant, Yet Casual, Table Setting
Use a collection of pitchers as vases, filling them with hydrangea and viburnum blooms for a fresh look.
Editor's Tip: Stack cake stands to make a dramatic centerpiece and dessert display.
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Table runner: Sheer Linen Runner (H19-4596) in Flax by Deborah Rhodes (deborahrhodes.com), available through Table Matters, Birmingham; tablematters.com.
Cake plates: SL Marble Cake Plates (BT245) in assorted sizes, from the Southern Living Collection through Ballard Designs; ballarddesigns.com.
Create a Self-serve Drink Station
Put a fresh twist on the classic punch bowl and serve pink lemonade from a Mason jar-inspired container with a silver ladle. Float lime slices for extra flavor, and add a tag to let guests know what you're serving.
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Lemonade jar: SL Beverage Jar with Ladle (BM100), from the Southern Living Collection through Ballard Designs; ballarddesigns.com.
Lemonade tag: SL Beverage Tags (BT244), set of six, from the Southern Living Collection through Ballard Designs; ballarddesigns.com.
Wineglasses: SL Wine Glasses (BG111) in Seaglass, set of four, from the Southern Living Collection through Ballard Designs; ballarddesigns.com.
Layer Shapes and Colors
Employ a mix-and-match philosophy, combining plates and glasses of different hues and sizes in one place setting. Try a colorful charger in lieu of a place mat, and use a vintage cocktail fork to hold a handwritten place card.
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Place setting: SL Dinnerware Set; Dinner Plate in Blue (BD395) and Salad/Dessert Plate (BD391) in Green, both in sets of four, from the Southern Living Collection through Ballard Designs; ballarddesigns.com.
Add Something Vintage
Let a unique find, such as this set of antique butter pats (tiny individual plates for serving butter), inspire your entire color palette. When topped with chilled butter curls, the dishes' delicate pattern enlivens the whole table.
Give a Little Gift
Set out a tray of party favors for guests to pick up as they leave. These mini bottles of rosé (a crisp and refreshing summertime wine) are dressed in contrasting green-and-white-striped ribbon tied in a dapper bow.
Meet the Hostess: Buffy Hargett
What's your entertaining signature? I always mix something old with something new—such as ornate family silver paired with plain white china.
What's your silver pattern? It's Fairfax by Gorham, monogrammed.
Favorite party staple? Fun paper napkins are a must, especially the colorful patterned ones by Caspari.
Mailed invitations: Yes or no? Handmade invites are always nice, but a simple phone call works too.
What's your go-to cocktail? In the summer, it's anything with fresh mint and lots of crushed ice.
Sweet or unsweet tea? I like unsweet, with a fresh peach slice.
Best easy centerpiece? Any blossom cut from your garden is pretty. I also love single hosta leaves arranged in a cluster of bud vases.
What often-overlooked detail should always be remembered? Lighting. Candles and dimmed lights set the tone for a party and make everyone look better.
How do you know when a party is a success? I know it went well when everyone calls to say, "We should do that more often!"