Party Prelude: Grown Up Pink

By Kate Riley June 28, 2009

One of my absolute favorite ways to decorate is setting a table before a party.  Saturday night I was hosting the summer meeting for our Martini Book Club.  There is so much pink in bloom right now, so I decided on a grown up table for my ladies, in various shades of this vibrant color.  

Here’s a look at my final tablescape before my guests arrived:

final table

I collected much of what you see over the years, at thrift stores, antique stores, and inexpensive retailers.  I added my wedding china for a touch of elegance.  To me, a stylish table setting is a mix of texture, color, various heights and proportions, and little personal touches.  Here’s how I set this buffet table in my dining room:

Layer One:  Hotel tablecloth in white from Target. 

basic white

Layer Two: Reversible table runner from Pier One. 


Layer Three:  I pulled white ceramics from all over the house, including a toothbrush holder used as a vase, various vases and urns in my collection, and some thrift store candlesticks.

white ceramics

Layer Four:  The addition of a medley of flowers, including pink hydrangeas from my garden and peonies from the florist.  I also added candles in various shades of pink.

add pink flowers

Layer Five:  A touch of whimsy.  How darling are these white bird salt and pepper shakers ?

candles and birds

Layer Six:  Watery blue napkins from Target and my wedding china.  Ten years later, I still love this Federal Platinum line from Lenox. 

china and napkins

lenox federal platinum accent

Layer Seven:  A scrumptious dessert.  This is my mom’s lemon pudding cake and it’s heavenly. 

lemon cake from side

all pulled together 

Here’s my Mini CG in training (caught eyeballing that cake…yum)

mini cg in training

I also set up a Martini Bar in the kitchen for quick and convenient libations. 

martini glasses   

The menu was centered around lemon drop martinis, so we served a crudités platter of gourmet vegetables, and a few seafood appetizers, including a dungeness crap dip with sliced baguette, and smoked salmon mini toasts. 

Here’s my recipe for a Lite Lemon Drop Martini (light on the calories, and the booze). 

Lite Lemon Drop Martini

  1. 1/2 oz.  citrus flavored vodka
  2. 4 oz. Crystal light lemonade
  3. 1/2 oz. Triple Sec

Blend in martini shaker with ice.  Pour into sugar rimmed glasses.

A splendid time was had by all in our chapter.  Here is part of our group, enjoying the cool California air outside.

mbc group

What did we read for our summer meeting, you might inquire?  ‘Three Cups of Tea’ by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.  Some of us (including yours truly) didn’t quite finish the book, but our meetings are more about the ladies getting together, and less about the literature.  We are gathering again in October for our fall meeting, and we are reading ‘The Orchid Thief’ by Susan Orlean.  Have you read this book? 

If any of you have other book suggestions, we would most welcome them.  What was your favorite read this past year?


  1. Beautiful table, I love love love all of those colors! I have not read The Orchid thief but did read The Shack by William P. Young and LOVED it!

  2. Table is fabulous. I highly recommend Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

  3. The whole evening sounds lovely. My book group does not consist of all women, which means no chick lit and girly talk. It's too serious! But serves the purpose of getting me out of the culinary murder mystery rut. Plus dinner is served and the food reflects something about the book. So, my favorite book from this past year was The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.


  4. I am going with 'crab' dip…. Great table, love everything but especially the runner and those sweet little salt & pepper shakers. Oh, and the pink candles and the little white vases and the flowers and….

  5. Love the tablescape! Great colors and layering!

    I recently read Fifty Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas–a fantastic read. True/funny story of a city gal who buys a farm.

  6. That sounds like so much fun! I think I need to start a book group like THAT.

    If you want a fun little book, Austenland by Shannon Hale is a fun read.

  7. You did a great job setting the table. I think I should start collecting white ceramic things as well so I can decorate a beautiful table when I have a party. :) I love reading and read a ton of books, what kinds of books do you guys like to read?

  8. Beautiful tablescape. I love all the gorgeous pink and white. Just lovely. Hugs, Marty

  9. Oh my gosh, Kate. The table looks wonderful! Such a lucky group of ladies.

  10. Ok- WAY to cute!! I love everything about this post! A "Martini" book club LOVE IT! Your table setting LOVE IT! And last but not least, your patio area LOVE IT!! ;) Looks like you all had a great time.

  11. What I truly appreciate about this post is how you showed us each step. I love that! It's one thing to see something once it's fully accomplished. But oftentimes you miss the little additions in between. So thanks for that! I just read the novel Oxygen. I liked it a lot.

  12. The table looks lovely, a punch of color, but not too busy. I have always liked the Lenox pattern too.

    I haven't read either of those books, but have you read Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen? We did that for our online bookclub and the discussion was so intense (in a good way)that it was thrilling. It really brought us all closer, which is hard to do in an online setting.

  13. Beautiful table – what an inspiration! I LOVE the runner, and I see I need to start collecting white things!

  14. Gorgeous!!!! I love how you made a simple tutorial out of this :) Made me smile!

  15. gorgeous table, and I wish I had been there!!! Sounds like such fun!!


  16. I love your table runner, and the flowers really make the colors pop. :) That cake looks divine, and who wouldn't want to mix up a martini at that party? Lovely! :)

  17. Your table is beautiful! The food/drink selection is perfect for summer. Our book club is reading "Moloka'i"…great book. Another good one was "Mr. Emerson's Wife". I've enjoyed reading what other people have read.

  18. Beautiful table! Such great choices in every detail to bring about a setting just perfect for a happy gathering.

  19. I love the table setting – in fact, I love your whole house. Do we get to have the Lemon Pudding Cake recipe – it looks delish.

    I'm going to be reading "Three Cups of Tea" this summer as I've heard such good things about it.

    The book that was the favourite of our book club this past year was "Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (it's now on the New York Times bestseller's list). I have recommended it to 12 people and they have all loved it – my parents are even now planning a visit to Guernsey Island. It is a lovely book set just after the war on Guernsey Island (off the coast of England near France). I love a book that is a good romance, has interesting characters, and some real historical or geographical details so you learn something.

    The one we are reading over the summer for our September meeting is "The Book of Negroes" by Lawrence Hill (which is called something else in the States but I can't remember the title) and is excellent as well.


  20. I'd prefer "crab" dip as well. : ) "Angry Conversations with God" by Susan E. Isaacs is funny and thought-provoking, and "My Hands Came Away Red" by Lisa McKay is a page-turner. I admire Greg Mortenson, but I couldn't get through his book. The climbing parts reminded me of "Into Thin Air," which was much better.

  21. Kate – beautiful table! Love how you brought out that pretty shade of blue from the runner. Mixed with the shades of pink is so fabulous. What a fun party! Thank you for sharing the photos. Makes me want to start my own book club – I could have one here on the other end in So Cal! =)


  22. I loved "The Orchid Thief", although it is rather surreal for an autobiographical 'novel'. Another book your club might enjoy is "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert, an autobiographical travel log and spiritual journey, and a beautiful book.

    I just stumbled upon your blog and am very impressed with you creativity and style. Look forward to dropping in again soon.


  23. if you remember the name of the print on the table runner from pier one could you please email it to me?? I am looking to use it in a nursery!! Hoping to buy a used one somewhere and I can’t find the name of it!! help please!!

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