Sur La Table {sweet ideas for party girls}

Hosting a little summer gathering with your favorite gal pals? Why not add a touch of French chic and mingle to the beat of a few CD's, like Paris Combo's Living Room (excellent fusion of jazz and gypsy, superb vocals) or the gorgeous Amelie soundtrack. Girls love cupcakes, so pull out your pretty little apron and bake some colorful cupcakes, displaying them on this cupcake stand from Sur La Table. Of course, you must invite the gnomes (any Amelie fan will cherish your attention to detail) and by all means, serve up some fresh lemonade or some other fruity non-alcoholic concoction (punch recipes here). I have special affection for the lemonade jar and stand because we had several at my summer wedding and everyone loved them. We tied fresh flowers to the top with long cascading grosgrain ribbon. Serve your delicious refreshers either in these blue hobnail glasses or, if you're a green kinda girl, opt for the dainty charm of the fleur de lys glassware (also keeping with your somewhat 'Summer in Paris' theme). See, 'theme' parties don't have to be tacky? A few simple touches introduce charm without being too sticky sweet.

If you want to go beyond cupcakes + thirst quenchers, nothing is easier than fresh fruit slices and crackers with cheese. I love a nice brie, but everyone serves brie, right? Not my kind of brie. Unwrap and place your brie into the microwave for 30-40 seconds (we don't want it to bubble or melt, just lightly heat it). Next, take several tablespoons of apricot preserves and heat separately for 40 seconds in the microwave. Drizzle your warm preserves over the brie and immediately serve with crackers and cute little cheese knives. You can even put a dab of apricot brandy in the preserves before heating, it's positively delish.

Tip: For the girls with mega stress careers, keep a few chilled bottles of champagne in reserve in case some are interested in enjoying a little something boozy and bubbly.

With your special touch, this perfect little joining together of hearts and minds combined with a simple, yet special, presentation, is sure to create a magical evening.

Tres Magnifique!

(images from la sura table)