26 Jan2012

Most of our holiday entertaining with family and friends occurs in the run up to Christmas, for 2-3 crazy, busy weeks where we have dinners, lunches, staff parties, etc. Bucking tradition, Christmas Eve at our home is a very intimate and cozy affair, often just the Teen, Mom and Dad and a couple or so close friends. With all grandparents gone and siblings scattered around the globe with their own families, we do not typically have the humongous family reunions that characterize many a Pinoy Christmas Eve/Noche Buena Feasts. And we like it that way. I recently asked the Teen if we should plan to go away next Christmas on some grand holiday (our 20th wedding anniversary coming up as well) like a villa in Bali, safari, or rural idyll in Europe somewhere, and she immediately opted for the simple “let’s stay at home” version instead. We will take that as a compliment… :)

This past Christmas, we opted for a festive but less formal table setting. You have seen many of these pieces before, they are just mixed in different ways. More casual yellow orange ceramic plates paired with large mother of pearl shells, formal european silver (with steak knives with different colored handles?!) on top of an off-white crisp russian linen tablecloth. Most of these, gifts… the large mother of pearl shells from my mother, the tablecloth, silver and plates from Sister.

Water glass, big red (literally and figuratively) wine glass, white wine glass and thick lead crystal champagne saucers.

I got these multi-colored steak knives from that venerable knife company Laguiole at Crate & Barrel for a very reasonable price… and I was surprised to see that they were made from completely recycled materials…

Flowers on the table were simple arrangements of red roses, with recycled greens from our Christmas wreath project.

Large cotton napkins are French, and purchased at 50% off at a Parisian department store some 7+ years ago (amazing how vibrant they look despite their age).

Large red candles used for weeks before this dinner, re-appear at the table, this time with bits of evergreen clippings lining the glass hurricane lamps. Next up, the luxurious but uncomplicated Christmas meal we enjoyed on this table setting…



  1. wisdom tooth says:

    What can I say…your table setting is always impressive. Simple but very elegant. Hope you don’t mind that we pattern our setting and meals with yours. Wala lang kami ng mga French table napkins. Now i can’t wait to read and behold what you prepared for your Christmas meal.

    Jan 26, 2012 | 7:58 am


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  3. Betchay says:

    I always admire your table settings! much more the food that you prepare…..no matter how simple it will always taste great because you prepare everything personally thus showing how you value your guests!

    Jan 26, 2012 | 7:59 am

  4. ami says:

    Wow, I love those yellow plates. How delicate are those mother of pearl plates? Do they shatter easily when dropped or get grooves when you push in a knife too hard?

    If I were the Teen I’d immediately jump on an invitation to go to Europe. If there’s one thing I will indulge in it’s traveling.

    Jan 26, 2012 | 8:03 am

  5. Marketman says:

    ami, no forceful cutting on the MOP plates, and don’t drop them… You also shouldn’t put vinegar or acid on the plates for long, the lacquer will suffer. They are best as a presentation vessel for light food, like canapes or stuff on bread. The best way to serve caviar too. For Asianfood, small fried lumpia or fresh vietnamese rolls would work on them, or shrimp cocktail perhaps, with sauce in a separate vessel. The MOP plates are special as they were a gift from my mom some 20+ years ago, given when I moved into my first studio apartment in New York, as though I would be hosting fancy dinners for 8 in less than 50 square meters… she was looking ahead, and in fact, I did use them once or twice to the awe of Western guests having cheap caviar on wickedly nice MOP plates. :) They are also special as they are mostly 9+ inches in diameter, quite hard to find nowadays. Though there does seem to be an abundance of smaller MOP plates as a result of it being a byproduct of the cultured pearl trade, I gather. I have always thought them to be supremely elegant, and I try to use them at least a couple of times a year. They make very elegant wedding presents, think of it as the tropical equivalent of silver… :)

    Jan 26, 2012 | 9:33 am

  6. cwid says:

    Love it!

    Jan 26, 2012 | 11:54 am

  7. lee says:

    Mother of Pearl! For someone like me who tend to utter cuss words from time to time, this is a decent replacement. I love the Laguiole knives :) Mother of Pearl!

    Jan 26, 2012 | 2:52 pm

  8. PITS, MANILA says:

    this is so nice, MM! and a happy and content daughter … even better!

    Jan 26, 2012 | 5:20 pm

  9. aisa says:

    Hi MM! Wow! I love your large mother of pearl shells! Where can I get them kaya? I have been looking for some time na eh…

    Jan 26, 2012 | 9:23 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    aisa, Balikbayan handicrafts have MOP plates, usually up to 7-8 inches in diameter, the bigger ones not as consistently nice. the 9-10 inch diameter ones are the spectacular and most difficult to find. I once visited the Davao market eons ago and saw several large MOP plates on offer there…

    Jan 26, 2012 | 9:58 pm

  11. sunflowii says:

    love the plates – both types!
    MM, will you be posting about your months-ago Seattle trip soon? =)

    Jan 26, 2012 | 11:52 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    sunflowii, egads, I completely forgot to do Seattle! Have to dig those photos up! Thanks for reminding me!

    Jan 27, 2012 | 6:59 am

  13. aisa says:

    Thanks MM! I’ll try to go to balikbayan handicrafts.

    Jan 29, 2012 | 1:11 pm

  14. RV Escat says:

    the mother of pearl shells are show-stealer! love it!

    Jan 30, 2012 | 12:22 am


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