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Balcony Entertaining

The art of entertaining on your "veranda"

So your Aunt Millie in the country brags about her lavish garden parties? Don't get jealous; get even! Whether you're into watercress sandwiches or pretzels and beer, there's no better place to gather with friends than in the midst of your little urban oasis.

Preparing your paradise to receive guests isn't difficult. A few bistro-style chairs and a table would be great, but mix-and-match seating from the flea market works fine, too. Add a topiary centerpiece, toss in a few cushions, drape some fabric here and there -- and you're all set. Alternatively, forget the furniture and go vertical: keep the guests moving about with drinks and hors d'oeuvres.

If you're aiming for elegance, send out written invitations with a sprig of whatever's growing tucked into the envelope. For a more casual affair, just dash off a group e-mail.

Well, what are you waiting for? Host a horticultural happy hour for envious co-workers. Wow the folks with dinner surrounded by chives, cilantro and city lights. Hey, the fact that you got those obstinate stems to stay upright is reason enough to celebrate!