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We had such a great time at our first Gathering Table: Table Styling & Home Gatherings Workshop! It was the third in a series of workshops we’re doing about “The Art of Homemaking,” and quite possibly the most fun of them all! Once again, Mateo’s Garden Cafe was our lovely venue for this afternoon workshop with Boqueria Lifestyle Market, who have collaborated with Make it Blissful in the past for our Blissmakerie and our Francophile lunch with some Instagram friends.

My reason for asking Steph and Lady Badoy to collaborate on this workshop was really because they started their business out of passion and a natural skill for entertaining at home. I remember visiting their family home in Cotabato waaaaaay back then, and it was so well appointed, and we were so pampered and taken care of as guests. Their mom, Tita Pennie, passed on her knack for home decorating and hostessing to her daughters, and their styling business has just grown from all this.

We started the gathering in the afternoon, since we were also thinking it would have the best natural light for all the photos we’d be taking! Thank you so much to Jonathan Justin Keh of Oak Street Studios (@oak_st_studios on Instagram) for taking our photographs for this gathering.

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For the workshop, Steph and Lady taught us the basics of a “wabi-sabi” style of table decorating, which is a Japanese method that has risen in popularity thanks to design blogs and Instagram. You may recoginize it as being a minimalist, earthy style, with a focus on imperfect objects coming together to form a pleasing table setting or vignette.

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The girls used an assortment of plain, ordinary pieces found in most home storecupboards: white plates, old soup cans (which they sprayed gold), odd-shaped tumblers and glasses (you know, the old kind your grandmother keeps in her dining room display?), everyday utensils, and foraged greens from the garden. The result was a simple yet eye-catching and intimate table setting for a casual dinner. Wonderful, simple, yet inviting!

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When the demo by Steph and Lady was over, we had a chance to view the finished product, make our observations, ask questions and get tips on how to style our own tables for our home gatherings. Some tips we learned were:

  1. Start with what you already have. You’d be surprised at what’s lying around in your home that can be used for decorating your next home gathering. For example: If you keep those amber-colored beer bottles, you can reuse them as vases for ferns and flowers. You don’t need to buy new vases. Same with old jam and mason jars, you can use them as tealight holders and dot them around the dinner table (just make sure to use smokeless candles, which are a bit pricey, but hey, you’re not buying new candle holders!)
  2. When purchasing everyday plates and utensils for your home, plain and simple is best. Plain colored ceramic or milk glass plates in neutral and plain colors can go a long way in home entertaining! You can get inexpensive yet good quality ceramics in flea markets and bargain sections inside department stores. It’s good to get those in one color, so that you can play around with other textures.
  3. Have a signature style in mind, so that you can easily work with what you have. When you buy a set of plates, make sure you’ve thought about the different ways you can work with it. The simplest way to
    know how to work with your basic dinnerware is to keep them within a style. An easy style is the wabi-sabi style we learned, which is to start with a blank canvas, like a set of white plates, good quality utensils, and plain colored, neutral table cloths and napkins. Then you can add a theme using minimal accessories, like a fancy candle holder or tealight holders, or napkin rings and flowers.

Each table was grouped into three or four and were tasked to style their own tables and photograph them for Instagram. Boqueria made available an entire “props buffet” of their own styling materials, flowers, and accessories. It was so much fun!

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To keep things fair, each group had three minutes to scour the props buffet for articles they needed for their table setting. Mateo’s provided the utensils (because naturally we were going to use them for our meal afterwards!), and each group was expected to create a theme, based on their choices. Here’s what everyone ended up with:

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First, start with a base. Boqueria had provided so many tablecloths, it was a challenge for everyone to pick just one! But the base is super important, because it is the canvas of the entire setting.

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Next, everyone gathered their decor and accessories and made them work with the themes they had in mind. This table was a Hampton’s-inspired brunch setting with lots of sea blue-greens and handmade elements. The chalkboard place settings double as ideal party gifts for guests — nice touch!

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Next up was a minimalist setting for a holiday dinner. I admired their knack for making several patterns work— that is not easy at all! But they managed to keep things to a color palette, which made things come together.

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Lastly, we had a summer-themed “Florida Keys” setting, which was meant for a fabulous party. This one kind of blew us away, because every element was well thought-out and being the last group to select their items from the buffet, they really had to work with what was left. Pretty great, huh?

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What a relaxing and fun afternoon! Thank you also to the brands who supported us: Bebeng’s Kitchen for her cookies and cuppies, Origins for the skincare, and NiQua for our custom aprons and on-site embossing. Boqueria Lifestyle Market also sent all the ladies home with a stack of pretty table napkins.

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