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Expert Tips On How To Dine In Style And Celebrate At Home This Valentine’s Day

We sit down Cora Mina Floral Boutique, The Daily Butlery, The Forewoman, and Metro Home host Anton Barretto to get some professional design tips


Many of us may be celebrating Valentine’s Day differently this year—away from the crowded restaurants and malls, and safe within the comforts of our home.


But celebrating at home doesn’t have to be any less special. In fact, here is where you can unleash your creativity and passion to create a celebration that’s more personal and meaningful to you and your loved ones. The love month is more than just the gifts and flowers and expensive dinner dates. It’s all about spending time with those who matter most to you, and putting in that extra effort to make them feel loved.


To give us creative ideas on how to spend Valentine’s Day at home and help us design our homes and tables, we talk to design experts Zayra Bulawan of Cora Mina Floral Boutique, Sanj Licaros of The Daily Butlery, Metro Home host Anton Barretto, and “The Forewoman” Jet Acuzar.



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Zayra Bulawan

Zayra is the owner of Cora Mina Floral Boutique based in Quezon City, a flower shop that does not only supply fresh and dried blooms, but also offers event styling services.


How do you usually celebrate your own Valentine’s Day and how differently are you doing it this year?

Usually, it is just a simple lunch or dinner celebration with my parents, sisters, and my beautiful niece. These days, I make quality time for them in the midst of the season’s rush at Cora Mina, while giving our best to make all the beautiful arrangements for our clients. 


This year, aside from family time, I’ll continue what I’ve started last year: creating something which speaks more to myself. I want to create a different kind of poetry and try to live unlived stories. Below is a photo for the piece I created in February 2020 entitled “What is Left.” It was part of an exhibit, “LoveNotLove” at Kondwi.



Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating love—with your partner, your family, and your friends. How important do you think is celebrating these small moments in the midst of a global pandemic?

It is a life reminder and a much-needed affirmation that we are all loved and capable of loving, and we should let the people around us feel that. Considering what we are all going through, radiating all the love and positive energy from one another is a gift we have to share, be it through a simple or grand gesture.


When you hear the word “love” or “Valentine’s day,” what are some of the design elements you quickly associate with it?

I usually associate love with beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the sound of the rain, the smell of flowers—even in its decomposing state—and basically anything that breathes nature. Not a specific physical decor or color, but intangible elements which remind me of what it feels like to love and be loved.


I take inspiration from these memories and intertwine all of these with our clients' own stories and concepts. After all, it is their love and life events that we are celebrating through our work. It is always a juxtaposition, making the right edits and sealing the work with its own magic.


How is your business doing nowadays, taking into account the pandemic challenges and the opportunities presented by Valentine’s Day?

Business is now thriving and we are blessed to be continuing all our services, but with careful observance of health and safety protocols. We did launch three series for our Valentine's Day catalogue, to give our clients a wide array of choices for this month's celebration. It is our simple contribution for the season, to share love and positivity.


Visit Cora Mina on Instagram at @coraminamanila. For orders, event styling, and inquiries, e-mail coraminamanila@gmail.com.

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Sanj Licaros

Sanj is the owner of The Daily Butlery, a service that provides butler style training and consultancy for private homes and businesses locally.


How do you usually celebrate your own Valentine’s Day and how differently are you doing it this year?

I usually have dinner out with my husband, but this year, we will have dinner at home with our children. My husband will prepare a tapas-style dinner for the family, which I will serve in the living room instead of the dining room.


Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating love—with your partner, your family, and your friends. How important do you think is celebrating these small moments in the midst of a global pandemic?

It is very important to celebrate these occasions. It assures not only our children, but my husband and I as well that life goes on and that there is always something to be thankful for.


Even though much has been taken away from all of us in the past year like traveling, hosting gatherings, and the freedom to go where you please with your family, I realized that these experiences can be recreated at home. For Valentine’s Day dinner in the time of pandemic, the saying “Home is where the heart is” literally holds true.


When you hear the word “love” or “Valentine’s day,” what are some of the design elements you quickly associate with it?

Valentine’s Day will always be associated with flowers, candlelight dinners, chocolates and heart-shaped items. When I work, I usually have elements of the theme, whether it be the pantones, food, music, or the ambiance that I want to create.


For dinner this Valentine’s Day, ditch the dining table and set up a beautiful picnic blanket or a grazing table in your living room. Add a small electric grill on the side for some easy-to-reheat dishes and finish it with a fun, interactive dessert. Instead of a box of chocolates, do a fondue station.



How is your business doing nowadays, taking into account the pandemic challenges and the opportunities presented by Valentine’s Day?

Business slowed down for me, but God is continuing to show me that He is in charge and He is listening. Many people now have the time and are taking extra care of the details at home. People want to learn and do all sorts of things to improve themselves and their home life. That is where The Daily Butlery comes in. I feel very fortunate to teach people ways to improve themselves through everyday etiquette and make their dining and daily moments in their homes special.


The Daily Butlery is on Instagram at @thedailybutlery. For inquiries, you may email welcome@thedailybutlery.com.

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Anton Barretto

Anton has been an authority on style and design for last 20 years, having been the editor-in-chief of the home and lifestyle magazine Metro Home, and host of Metro Channel TV show of the same name, Metro Home.


How do you usually celebrate your own Valentine’s Day and how differently are you doing it this year?

For years now I’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day with my single and married friends. We normally enjoy a homecooked meal or when no one offers to cook, then a caterer comes to feed us.


I guess this year will be different. Covid-19 dictates how we celebrate these days but with all the necessary safety protocols and my on-call home service testing team. I’ve mapped out my Valentine’s day dinner celebration.


I’ll be in a garden, a big table with socially distanced chairs, no buffet, and I’ve ordered face masks and monogrammed pouches to keep the masks in while eating. So far I have 4 close friends who have agreed to go. I’ll limit to a maximum of 6 so whoever the lucky 2 are, then we all get to enjoy a 4-course meal prepared by my good friend Joy Lim of the famed Yogi Brunch. She will also curate a special mix of her bottled products as my giveaway.



Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating love—with your partner, your family, and your friends. How important do you think is celebrating these small moments in the midst of a global pandemic?

I think it’s a good idea to celebrate Valentine’s Day, after all, it is a day dedicated to show our love and affection to each other.


Since we really should be staying home, celebrate with your family (or who ever you live with) and spread the love! Cook a special meal or order food from your fave restaurant or home chef.


If you’re single and ready to mingle, keep in mind that you need to be safe, as well as considerate, to the person or people you will invite. If privately, ensure everyone will be safe. If in a public place then choose wisely; there are many establishments that have outdoor seating, so you should call for reservations in advance and ask them about their safety protocol practice.


If you can’t (or don’t want to) celebrate with people, there are many ways to send a greeting of love! If you have time on your hands (literally) try making a homemade card, bake a cake, or look up a quick DIY gift for valentine. Something handmade and personal is always appreciated. If you are busy, then the usual flower arrangement from your florist of choice will delight the recipient. Another gift that will surely (I hope) be appreciated, drum roll...a potted plant, in keeping with this whole new plant fixation.


The choices for gift giving have blossomed because of the pandemic. We have witnessed and tasted a lot of products from home cooks and creative people—and they are all just a text away so order in advance.


When you hear the word “love” or “Valentine’s day,” what are some of the design elements you quickly associate with it?

Valentine’s Day to me equals flowers and chocolates, hearts, and the color red.


Flowers in general are a perfect way to say I love you on Valentine’s Day. I must say, I have many friends young and old who expect to receive flowers on Valentine’s Day. 


I’ve been asked to style Valentine events—big and intimate. I just follow what the client wants and if asked to suggest, then I’ll give my creative input.


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Jet Acuzar

Jet Acuzar is also known as “The Forewoman.” She launched her website and social media page to chronicle how anyone can practice a little creativity within their home. The website is about decorating and leisurely ways spend time in the comfort of one’s abode.


How do you usually celebrate your own Valentine’s Day and how differently are you doing it this year?

Usually, we celebrate by going to a restaurant. I insist on braving the traffic despite my husband’s protests.


This year, we are celebrating Valentine’s Day at home and the first thing my husband and I will do to prepare is an antigen swab because my husband works and goes out and we socially distance at home. The swab is usually done by Dr. Maxine or Dr. JP Lin. That’s probably the most different thing about this year.


My husband will likely cook, steak I'd imagine. And my kids will probably be running around super noisily.


Valentine’s Day is a time for celebrating love—with your partner, your family, and your friends. How important do you think is celebrating these small moments in the midst of a global pandemic?

Oh it’s so much more necessary these days! It’s tricky because I understand people who want to go all out and celebrate life (of course with all the necessary tests, quarantine, and precautions). I can see how that is wonderfully inspiring and a strong “life must go on” message, but I also understand how some people can find posting so publicly about enjoying ourselves too much at a time like this, in poor taste.


It’s a tricky one because I love posting about fun things myself. And I am always scared of where to draw the line. But I think as long as you keep health and safety a priority, that’s the most important thing.


When you hear the word “love” or “Valentine’s day,” what are some of the design elements you quickly associate with it?

I think love is such a personal abstract concept. I don’t think anything in particular comes to mind. My family perhaps? But really, in terms of decorating, I associate love with sentimentality. In the table setting, for example, I did a chef's table kitchen countertop scheme.


This is because my husband loves to cook and we often crowd around the kitchen island as he prepares anyway, so I thought I would dress up the kitchen countertop. I don’t think I’ve seen a tablescape in a countertop or kitchen island before so this was super fun considering the vantage point of the seats is only towards the chef!


@theforewoman | The Forewoman


When will we see your products and services?

I’m launching my very first collection sometime this year because we’re still prototyping. We’re making sure that we test every product we sell so when I come out with the homeware line, I know that I believe in what I sell and I can answer all of my clients’ questions. The goal really is to make it affordable and have really good quality.


Check out The Forewoman on Instagram at @theforewoman or visit her website at www.theforewoman.com.



Check out the gallery below for our comprehensive compilation of tips on how to style your home, dine in style, and celebrate Valentine’s Day from Cora Mina, The Daily Butlery, Anton Barretto, and The Forewoman.


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