What To Serve: Whether you grill on the deck or cook indoors, plan your meal around fresh, seasonal ingredients. Think of finger food that's fun to eat: shrimp on a skewer, grilled pizzas, lobster. Or, design a themed meal: a Tuscan feast or classic picnic with spicy fried chicken and peanut coleslaw. If your guests—like Oprah's pals—are dressing up, serve a fancy seafood luncheon. Save Aunt Nell's barbecue ribs for a jeans crowd.

Dessert: Never feel guilty about browsing the bakery for a fancy fruit tart or key lime pie. Better to be a relaxed hostess than stress out over a big finale. Many store-bought desserts can be deliciously dressed up: pound cake with raspberries and whipped cream, brownies with ice cream and chocolate sauce, cookies with fruit sorbets.

What To Drink: In hot weather, greet guests with big iced drinks like mojitos or margaritas, or, as Oprah does, some bubbly: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé NV ($50) is a nice summery choice. For lunch, serve a chilled white wine like Edna Valley 2000 Chardonnay ($17). And always offer nonalcoholic drinks: creative lemonades—lavender, cherry, blueberry, mint—and sun-brewed iced tea.


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