Tips and Guides

RL Entertaining: Four Simple and Easy Table Settings

Planning a casual get-together for family and friends? Spruce up your table with these interesting decorating ideas

Photography: At Maculangan Pictorial Direction: Joanne Enriquez-Bohol

Read the original article ("Setting Pretty") in the April 2011 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Geometry Lesson

There’s no rule that says you need to use round dinner plate with a round side plate all the time. This setting lets you play with shapes. If you have two or more sets of dinnerware, all you need to do is mix and match. For the accent colors, try two contrasting shades such as violet and yellow.


Consider pairing a square plate (we chose one with scalloped edges) with a triangular soup plate. Underneath, slip a round placemat in a punchy color.

QUICK CRAFT: More than words

Spell out your guests’ names with these cutesy play mats. For a more grown-up polish, form a name using mats of similar color. 


Shopping for a table napkin? You might want to check out men’s or ladies’ wear for printed hankies or bandannas for more interesting pattern options.  


The best things in life are free—and can be readily plucked from the backyard. Make use of exquisitely simple leaves and rocks. To complement the all-natural theme, go for beautifully textured plates made with sustainable materials and cutlery with an organic quality. 


Spread out a sheet of Kraft paper, a renewable material made from wood pulp, for a chic and dirt-cheap makeshift placemat. You need not spend the night eyeing spills and stains with contempt!

QUICK CRAFT: Dear Nature

Pluck some leaves from the backyard; choose ones that are unblemished and have the ideal form. Carefully and legibly write your guest’s name, preferably in cursive, across the leaf with a fine-point black pen. 


Neatly tie the table napkin with a sash of paper twine to secure it in place. 

Summer Lovin'

Sun, sand, waves, and coconut trees of a cool beach getaway are represented on the table by this foliage-inspired plate, a funky coaster that resembles a spatter, a plastic tumbler that’s perfect for nursing a refreshing drink, a shell napkin ring. Ditch your everyday flatware for fun yet sturdy plastic cutlery for a more laidback vibe. 


Turn a pretty rug into a nifty tablecloth? There’s nothing iffy about it if you use a new one! This striped piece brings in color and texture.

QUICK CRAFT:  “Polaroidize” Me

Scatter about your favorite summer photos as accents. Make it interesting; make a fake Polaroid shot! Adhere your chosen picture on a slightly bigger white cardboard. Leave ample room at the bottom for a short note.


In lieu of a shell napkin ring, use that straight-from-Palawan shell of yours to keep a napkin in place. That starfish-shaped pasalubong magnet is another option—just hot-glue it onto a black elastic band.  

Colorful Pinoy

Preparing a feast of Filipino dishes? Give guests a generous serving of probinsya charm with pieces made of familiar local materials, but in surprisingly fresh colors such as light pink and pistachio green. To avoid looking too themed, limit Pinoy items to just three or four.


Here’s a pretty place card holder and token for your guests. Neatly scribble your guest’s name on a piece of paper, punch a hole for the ribbon, and tie it to the fan’s handle.


Raid your closet for some ethnic-inspired bead bracelets you can repurpose as napkin rings similar to this store-bought one.


Add a touch of hue and whimsy to the setting with a bunch of blooms in a capiz vase. If you want to stay true to the running theme, opt for gumamela or santan in a bao used as a vase.  


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