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3 Table Settings that Bring the Feel of Summer to the -Ber Months

For Filipinos, the idea of entertaining is innate in their culture, which is rooted in hospitality and camaraderie. Having friends and family over for a meal is practically second nature. However, in recent years, table settings have become works of art; therein lays the challenge. As host or hostess, you would like to have a set-up that looks elegant yet relaxed, sans the stress of making it happen.


Here, Metro Home & Entertaining editor-in-chief Anton Barretto, interior designer Tessa Alindogan, and events designer Barbie Pardo-Tiangco show their idea of a creative spin to table settings for a fun get-together over food and drinks. For them, you don’t need to rush to your favorite home store for accoutrements every time you have guests over. Just take a look around your home and pull what you need from what you see. You just might surprise yourself.



For Tessa Alindogan, her idea of a brunch setting draws its inspiration from the cheerful color palette of sunshine. She plays around with shades of yellow, orange and red, colors which, she feels, whets the appetite. For a bit of contrast, she uses wooden boards as serving plates and slate flatware on her table.


“Layer your textures to make the table more interesting,” she explains. One example Tessa points out is a wooden maple-leaf shaped placemat that she put on top of a yellow cloth one. The overall effect is “…stylized rustic, yet still casual,” she says. The right lighting also makes a big difference in the ambiance of the space, so get creative with the use of lamps, lighting fixtures or candles. Her key piece of advice for a brunch table? “Keep it simple and casual. Just make sure that it’s cohesive.”


1.  Choose your placemats, plates, flatware, napkins, and glasses carefully. Make sure that they all complement each other and are visually appealing.

2.  Choose the right kind of plates. Do not be afraid to mix-and-match to make your setting more attractive.

3.  Twigs, leaves, or fresh flowers are always nice to have on a table. Be mindful of proportion when making your arrangement.

4.  Cloth napkins always add color to the table. To give each setting a playful and attractive pop, use two napkins in different colors or patterns in one napkin ring.

5. Be creative with your place card holders. For example, reutilize wine corks by slicing a small sliver horizontally to give the cork a flat bottom so it stays in place on the table. Then cut a slit along the cork to fit your place card inside.

6. The table covering can be anything that inspires the palate. Be dramatic and get creative.

7. It is always a good idea to play some music in the background. It will help set the tenor of the soirée or get-together.




Whether it’s planning cocktails for happy hour or a round of drinks before heading out to dinner, Anton Barretto has one rule of thumb: go for a relaxed and happy vibe. “With cocktail parties, you have license to be creative. No need to stay within the boundaries. And always have an element of surprise,” he explains. He does suggest that deciding on a theme for your party will also help you decide on your budget, what you need, and how the room will look.


For this setup, which he points out would be ideal for condo-dwellers, Anton opted for a retro vibe. He brings this to life with the use of earthy tones and interesting textures, and a pop of orange “to give the room some energy.” The main challenge is to maximize the space and be considerate to your guests. So a bit of rearranging is in order. “You need to have sufficient table surfaces and seating for everyone,” Anton points out.


An easy hack? Make use of stools and add trays atop an ottoman. The coffee table also becomes the center of attention, as it gets transformed to your buffet area. Accessories like plants and candles can be used to accent the area around the space. To serve the drinks, Anton finds a bar cart to be a nifty piece to have around, to display your bottles, mixers and glasses.  “…and it’s easy to just wheel around the space.” His key tip to a successful cocktail party? “Just make sure it is memorable,” he quips.


1. There are no set rules in creating a home bar. Home bars for entertaining will need the basic variety of wines and spirits, glasses and garnishing. Keeping it simple will be your best bet. If you’re into mixing and drinking, it’s your call on how elaborate you want to go.

2. You might also want to hire a bartender so think of this option in advance because you'll need time to hire one and coordinate other details. 

3. Pick a spot where your bar will be. If space is a concern for you, make sure the area you choose won't block the path of your guests as they enter or when going to the powder room.  

4. Create your list of liquors, wine, mixers, and soda.  

  • If you want to serve wine, don't go all out and have a big selection; choose one white and one red so it's easier to serve. “You won't need too many glasses, not much left over, and your guests won't have the dilemma of choosing,” Anton adds. 
  • Consider stocking these staples that are common to a self-serve bar: vodka, whiskey, tequila, rum, gin, scotch or bourbon. 
  • If you are serving themed-drinks, buy other ingredients that you will need.
  • Have these mixers on hand: tonic water, club soda, a variety of cola, cranberry juice and orange juice. 


Glasses: White wine glasses, red wine glasses, champagne flutes, Martini glasses, highball glasses, rock glasses, beer mugs, and water and soda glasses 


Tools of the trade: a long spoon for stirring, metal drink shaker, strainer, ice bucket with tongs, tongs for the ice bucket, bottle opener, wine corkscrew, jiggers - small measuring cups  


Garnish: limes, lemons, oranges, olives 




As an events designer, Barbie Pardo-Tiangco often faces the task of creating beautiful table settings for dinners and special occasions. When entertaining at home with friends, she favors a mix of rustic and glam that feels elegant but without the fuss of a formal sit-down affair. “I like a mix of things you can see in a country home mixed with more elegant pieces,” she explains. Barbie also likes the feel of mixing the feminine with the masculine, in terms of her selection of furniture and table settings. “Playing between opposites and a contrast of textures always make the space interesting,” adds Barbie.


For this dinner table, she started with a palette of peacock blue and gold. “It’s an unusual blue. I like how it gives the space a pop of color. Accent colors also don’t have to be so matchy-matchy,” Barbie notes. A stand-out touch would be the mismatched chairs—two dinner chairs at the ends, a two-seater couch on the one side and ottomans on the other—pulled from different parts of the house. The fur throw on the ottomans fill her requirement of using “unusual things.” The plates fill in the glam aspect to the setting, mimicking a sunburst with its gold trim and floral shapes. While she uses tall candelabras for her table, she does point out that their streamlined design will not get in the way of meaningful dinner conversation.


Barbie does share a trade secret when creating her stunning spaces. “Look at your table from all angles—background, foreground, top, bottom. There should be always something to see.” She adds, “Flowers always show that you made an effort.”


1. Mismatched seating always makes for an interesting dining area. Don't be afraid to use sofas, stools, accent chairs or benches even. 

2. It’s always a good idea to mix textures. A wooden accent wall doesn't necessarily mean you have to go rustic or country even. Mix in sleek brass elements, gold accents and Flokati throws to make the overall look intriguing. 

3. Add a pop of color. While an all neutral palette works as well, a pop of color always gives personality to a monochromatic space. 

4. Consider light fixtures. Drop lighting adds to the total dining tableau, so always pick the appropriate size and style for your table.

5. Small side tables are always convenient to have beside the host. It's where you can put the chilled wine for easy glass refills for your guests.


Photographs by Jinggo Montenejo