A Whimsical Soirée by Stephanie Ong

    “I don’t often entertain, but when I do, I like to make the most of it,” says Stephanie Ong. Her favorite menu to serve is Burmese food, a repertoire she is familiar with, and something she knows her friends enjoy. “It’s a general crowd pleasing menu because of the umami flavor,” she says and adds, “gives friends something to look forward to, because I don’t serve the curries and noodles often.”

    When she holds a gathering, be it a Colonial British-India themed baby shower or a birthday party for her son, she usually does them in her parent’s home. When hosting somewhere else, her number one advice is to think very clearly about the type of party you are throwing. “If it’s something like a birthday party for my son, I really try to keep it simple because of the headache that comes with cleaning up large spaces,” Stephanie says. “The festive aspects to the party can be delegated to one corner or table, while everything else is minimalist.”

    Her more recent get-together was a mini lunch for her girlfriends, and featured what she is most known for among her friends. “I love interesting table settings,” she says. “The possibilities are endless. My mom has collected beautiful things for as long as I can remember, as well as received sets from my grandmother. Playing with the settings is fun for us. I learned to do it a day in advance, just to ensure that you can focus on the food and arrangements on the day of the event itself.”

    Her tastes tend to run on items full of texture. “I have a weakness for celadon, old blue and whites and locally embroidered linen countered by something vibrant like colorful lacquerware from Myanmar,” she says. She also likes the look of succulents. “We are big on using leaves more than flowers, like celum or philodendron in large quantities around the dining area.” For a hint of wit, she likes adding the unexpected, like a small animal figurine, “just to throw things off.”

    The most enjoyable part for Stephanie is the preparation. “I like to do the cooking, so I’m standing barefoot in the kitchen all day stirring and marinating with a lot of Nancy Sinatra going on in the background.” For guests, she enjoys mixing new and old friends. “I’m always confident that new friends will get along with longtime ones. Birds of the feather, as they say,” she says laughing. What warms her heart the most are parties with her children, or the kids of her best friends. “Sometimes they appreciate the set up more than the adults do because of all the hidden touches of whimsy with the animals.”

    Celadon, lacquerware from Myanmar and succulents create an opulent set-up

    Celadon, lacquerware from Myanmar and succulents create an opulent set-up

    A tropical garden themed calamansi cake made of three layers of rum cake, calamansi marmalade filling and marshmallow icing

    A tropical garden themed calamansi cake made of three layers of rum cake, calamansi marmalade filling and marshmallow icing

    A tropical version of a tea party

    A tropical version of a tea party

    SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM STEPHANIE ONG’S WHIMSICAL SOIREE… 

    Stephanie’s Favorite Elements at a Party

    Soundtrack: British-Indian crossover tracks from the 70s. I got this great record from Dishoom in London, and I have to say it’s pretty wild. It’s good to keep it interesting. I also like the Trouble Man album, Cole en Español, some Led Zeppelin, Serge Gainsbourg, Bowie and Chet Baker. Glass Animals and The XX make it in there, too.

    Floral arrangements: If an arrangement has an overflowing look to it, I don’t mind.

    The arrangements are made easier by the fact that my parents’ majordoma is a seasoned Dangwa explorer, and a great haggler. She always supplies me with what I need and heads out at the crack of dawn to get the good stuff. We do the arrangements together after. I took an ikebana class once, but I’m really more of a gut feel kind of girl. If an arrangement has an overflowing look to it, I don’t mind.

    Scented Candles: Depending on the season, I’d go with either the Figuer, Verveine or Feu de Bois candles from Diptyque.

    Text by Sara Sigiuon-Reyna 
    Photography by Yukie Sarto 

    READ MORE STORIES ON ENTERTAINING... 

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    2. What's Cooking at Aivee Teo's House? A Hearty Brunch for a Healthy Bunch 
    3. It's All About the Guest List: Ladies Night at Ina Ayala's House 

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