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How To Have A Cool Party At Home, According To Maja Gamboa

When you enter Maja Gamboa’s home, you immediately feel a cozy, homey atmosphere. Its whitewashed walls and dark brown motif are the perfect canvas for her multicolored trinkets, gathered over the years from her travels around the globe. Yellow and Mediterranean blue-colored accents are obvious favorites, which she uses to fantastic effect as home accents. Parrot prints on yellow throw pillows, bright blue-colored plates from Turkey, and differently colored cloths from India are but a few of the items she uses to accentuate her home. In this feature, Maja Gamboa played hostess and showed how she entertains family and friends in her beautiful home.


The hostess loves to match the theme of her table setting with the food she serves. The distinctly oriental cuisine of the food from Azuthai gave the hostess the perfect opportunity to bring out and use the tablecloth she got from her trip in Rajahsthan, India.


What is your top tip in hosting parties?

Be attentive to the needs of your guests: prepare your menu, confirm how many people are coming, and then just keep the alcohol flowing. In place of red or white wine, I discovered that gin and tonic is also an excellent drink for guests; it’s easy to make and very refreshing. Plus, you can reuse gin, unlike wine—once you open it, it begins to degrade immediately.


On a corner in her dining room is a native tea/coffee cart.


Who do you usually invite to your house parties?

Friends and family, mostly.

What food do you usually serve?

I usually just order food when I am hosting. Azuthai (+63 2 813 0671; San Lorenzo Village, Makati City) is my favorite, it’s my go-to restaurant when ordering food for my parties. Of course, when I need to prepare food at home, my husband, Chef J. Gamboa, is a huge help in developing the menu.


Maja loves serving her guests food from popular Thai cuisine restaurant Azuthai. The Massaman Lamb Curry dish is a dinner party favorite.


How do you conceptualize and create the design of your table setting?

I like to match my table setting with the food. Here, the food is from Azuthai, so the motif of the table setting is a little earthy and oriental-ethnic. I put leaves and flowers on the table as accents. I just pick from our garden. I love using things that are already available at home; it forces me to be creative. When I need more flower choices, I go to Market! Market! in Taguig.


It's all in the details! This tablecloth is a perfect match to her earthy and oriental-ethnic table setting.


Tell us more about your table setting. What notable things did you use in creating it?

I have a rolling store named Kala. We sell fabrics and other home stuff from India. We have tablecloths, bed sheets, and pillowcases; the tablecloth that I used in my table setting is from a trip in Rajasthan, India. They are hand blocked Indian prints. They print the fabric with wooden blocks one by one, by hand; woodblock printing in India is a very old practice. I just love the designs. It’s easy to maintain, and the fabric is really hardy; it can stand a lot of rewashings.


An Indian block-printed tablecloth provides the festive colors for this table spread. Complementing it are wicker chargers and fine silver.


Where did you get your glassware and silverware?

The glassware has been in my mom’s family for a very long time, and so is the narra table. I got the silverware from a little shop I discovered in London.


This cabinet in dark wood holds her collection of glassware and other dining essentials.


What music do you play when hosting a party? 

Casual music, also jazz or classical music. My guests can tinker with the music as much as they want.


Maja's home is exploding with colors and patterns, giving her home warmth and delightful eccentricity.


How about coffee? What kind of brewing method do you prefer to use?

To satisfy the caffeine needs of my guests, I use a large-sized Bialetti coffee percolator (available in Rustan’s department stores). Just fill it with freshly ground coffee beans, put it in the stovetop for a few minutes, and then you’ll have coffee good for 5-6 people.


Photographs by Jar Concengco, courtesy of Metro Home & Entertaining