1. Line your walkway or porch with colored patio candles to welcome guests. Or fold down the tops of small brown paper bags, fill them with sand for ballast and set plumber's candles alight inside.

2. Serve Pimm's Cup No. 1, "the Original Gin Sling," as the label says. Mix a jigger of Pimm's with half lemonade and half seltzer water and top the glass with bits of cut-up fruit.

3. Hand everyone a paper fan from an Oriental gift shop, along with their drink.

4. Use oversize washable plastic buffet dishes, firm enough so they won't collapse on your guests' knees. In green, yellow, blue or red, twelve, 12-inch plates are $7.50 at Williams-Sonoma, Mazza Gallerie, Western and Wisconsin Avenues NW.

5. To make people think they're at a country picnic, use bandanas for napkins. Counts Western store, 4903 Wisconsin Ave. NW, has them in a rainbow of colors at $1.25 each. Tie them in a loose knot and place them at the top of runners made out of red and white dish-towel fabric, $3 a yard from Cherishables, 1816 Jefferson Pl. NW (closed during August).

6. More formal: Cherishables' custom-made tablecloths. Choose from bolts of Provencal fabric in prices ranging from $10 to $14 a yard. Cost of making the tablecloths, which have a corded hem to help them hang straight: $15 to $45. Napkins: $3.

7. Make a centerpiece out of fresh herbs. The lacey green of dill, sprigs of peppermint, spikes of lavender or a fistful of lemon balm look and smell good.

8. The suggestion of Aster Florist, 1623 Connecticut Ave. NW: Lay a single flower across each dinner plate.

9. Give everyone an individual wine carafe. Williams-Sonoma has wine bottles in patterned glass. Each holds a liter. Set of six: $15.

10. For dessert, cut oranges in half, scoop out the pulp and fill one half with orange sherbet, the other half with coconut.

11. Put sparklers next to each dinner place. Al's Magic Shop, 1012 Vermont Ave. NW, has the 8-inch size (six for 25 cents) or 10-inch (eight for 40 cents).

12. As a cooling touch, give everyone a washcloth soaked in water scented with a few drops of lavender oil, squeezed out and folded prettily on a plate. Many health-food shops and the Cathedral Herb Cottage, Wisconsin and Massachusetts Ave. NW, carry the oil, along with other scents.