30 Dec2013


The first holiday dinner of the season is ALWAYS the hardest to pull off. We have been entertaining less and less formally over the past few years so we are all getting a bit rusty when the holidays roll around… This year, we were so busy with other stuff in November and early December that we nearly didn’t go through with our holiday dinners. But a note on this first. I know a LOT of folks cancelled their holiday merry-making in deference to the recent earthquake/storm disasters, but we took a different stance… HELP storm victims heavily AND continue on with previously made holiday plans. Folks who re-directed holiday funds to storm relief are admirable, but many forget that the funds were taken away from other businesses… in Cebu alone, restaurants have seen patronage plummet, hotels in the Visayas are deserted, farmers and florists affected, caterers saw massive double-digit declines in business, stores are overstocked with unpurchased holiday goods, etc. And some of these businesses have started laying off casual workers, pulling back on their expenditures, etc. In other words, economically speaking, there is some serious fall-out. And it perhaps defies logic for many, but not for me, so we decided to go ahead and continue with holiday plans to HELP get things BACK to normal.

We did go ahead with a much awaited Zubuchon Christmas Party (re-cast as our Annual Employee Appreciation Event) as the caterers were mostly paid, the venue booked and prizes and gifts purchased months ago, and we also decided to move forward with private family holiday events. The best way we can ALL help bring things back to normalcy is to act like things are normal. This year, many of our holiday presents included Boholano broas and ube jaleya, we sent lechon (from backyard raisers all over Cebu and Negros), biko, budbud kabug, and we made it a point to purchase seafood and other raw materials from Northern Cebu/Bantayan as soon as they were back on the market. Folks we know purchased hundreds of baskets from affected towns in Northern Palawan, cashew nuts grown in the area and other native delicacies and basically, bought and gave things that would provide continued employment in the affected areas. If you have been planning on attending a Sinulog celebration but have never gotten around to it, this Sinulog 2014 is the PERFECT time to visit Cebu, the crowds will be less, the hotel rooms more available and you know where you can score some pretty decent lechon to boot… :) And do a side-trip to Bohol, where I hear the deals for resorts (almost completely unaffected by the earthquake) are quite spectacular!


The “logistics” of a holiday dinner is what is increasingly turning people off to hosting them… so much easier to get a caterer or eat out in a restaurant. But I guess you could say we are “old-fashioned” and we look forward to these annual gatherings of friends and family. This year’s table was draped with an off-white linen tablecloth. Note to self… DO NOT PUT HEAVY piles of plates on the ironed tablecloth, as they leave a mark, and you have to iron it again. Iron each napkin flat, before doing a gentle fold… but also so that you inspect each napkin carefully for any stains from previous meals in season’s past.


We used three different sets of plates, copious amounts of cutlery and several types of glasses as well. The flowers were selected on an early morning visit to the wholesale flower market in Dimasalang or Dangwa and I will say upfront that the Teen thought they didn’t look too “Christmassy” at all. :) Festive, perhaps, but not typical Christmas colors.


We set the largest plates used at each setting to ensure that they would fit within the cutlery, then the white plate was removed until a later stage of the meal. There were two appetizers, a main course, a cheese and fruit course and dessert. Additional cutlery was brought to the table later in the meal.


An early morning run to Dimasalang, resulted in a seemingly hodgepodge of blooms, but there must have been something guiding the purchases of roses, carnations, hydrangeas, etc. Set in small ceramic pots, each pot was a different bloom, here beautiful red roses…


…deep pink? roses and fuschia carnations in the back…


…locally grown ornamental cabbages…




…a rather stunning ornamental cabbage (this one imported) that got placed at the center of the table…


…some purple hydrangeas/hortensias/milflores with a really lush grouping of deep colored vandas in the background…


…a partial overhead shot of the table.


We added some low votive candle holders and candles that cast a nice warm glow on the setting. The Teen said it all looked a bit “springlike” and I guess I have to agree with her, but it was colorful. :)


I know folks don’t bother with this kind of set up much anymore, but it is special and it does bring a really festive mode to the gathering. I find it is ALWAYS worth all the trouble to pull it together. I can understand why folks call in florists and caterers, but we actually enjoy doing it ourselves.


The table sits in the glow of the nearby Christmas tree. The lights and candles reflect on all of the glass and china.


We had no massive holiday arrangements this year, like this one or this one or this one, from years’ past, but at the entry table we had some nice white-ish hydrangeas in a crystal vase.


All the leftover flowers from the dining table filled another vase for a side table. Setting done, now time for dinner, up next.



  1. millet says:

    beautiful table, as always!

    Dec 30, 2013 | 9:08 am


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  3. Rona Y says:

    Is that a fish knife (second knife from right)? I love fish knives, but rarely see them.

    and the mother of pearl (I’m guessing it’s a spoon?)… what was that to be used for? I would normally assume caviar, but it’s in the dessert cutlery area, so …

    re: travel–how did areas like Oslob fare? I think we’re going to do Cebu and Oslob (and maybe a side trip to Bohol, now that you’ve mentioned it), but haven’t found much about the conditions in Oslob (or Bohol, till now!).

    Dec 30, 2013 | 9:44 am

  4. Marketman says:

    Rona, Oslob should be fine, though there may be minor damage to churches on the drive South… but the whalesharks should still be there. Cebu is fine. The resorts on Panglao are mostly fine, and offering good deals I hear. You will not be able to see the chocolate hills as they used to be, and several historic churches in Bohol were severely damaged. But the beaches, diving, other sight-seeing and eating should all still be good.

    Yes, it’s a fish knife. The mother of pearl handles are to an antique set of silver fruit forks and knives, for the cheese and fruit course, a gift from Sister from where most of our tabletop stuff comes from…

    millet, thanks.

    Dec 30, 2013 | 9:51 am

  5. Thel from Florida says:

    WOW, as usual Classy setting, beautiful flowers!

    Dec 30, 2013 | 10:28 am

  6. Ken_L says:

    I love the use of ornamental kale as a table decoration – never saw that done before. And you can add it to the leftovers to make the next day’s meals!

    Dec 30, 2013 | 10:42 am

  7. Khew says:

    I used to have a rattan/bamboo tray like that!

    Dec 30, 2013 | 10:59 am

  8. dianne says:

    the ornamental cabbages are lovely!!! would love to have these for my wedding. haha! ;)

    Dec 30, 2013 | 12:51 pm

  9. Mik says:

    Is the third knife from the right a Laguiole? I am saving up for one of their cutlery sets; they are beautiful and such a nice feel in the hand!
    Your tablescapes are always beautiful and have inspired me all year to make my own just a little bit more special, so thank you!

    Dec 30, 2013 | 2:05 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    Mik, yes, the third knife is one of 6 multi-colored Laguiole, purchased at a close-out and we got 2 sets for 12 knives total at say 40-50% off, so a real find. We also got 6 classic bone handled Laguiole’s many, many years ago that are just as good as brand new. We love them and they are worth every penny we paid for them.

    Dec 30, 2013 | 4:14 pm

  11. ami says:

    Anybody know which months hydrangeas bloom in the Phils? In Japan they bloom in June during the rainy season. However it looks like that’s not the case for the hydrangeas we have locally.

    Dec 30, 2013 | 11:14 pm

  12. Marketman says:

    ami, I tend to find hydrangeas some 6 months of the year in the Philippines… they are grown up North, in Baguio and Benguet and seem to thrive in the cool, wet weather there during the rainy season and through to the holidays.

    Dec 31, 2013 | 10:22 am

  13. izang says:

    the glass stands of the red candles are beautiful.

    Dec 31, 2013 | 2:18 pm


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