Opening Doors to Friends and Family

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Cat Chen is one of those women who somehow do it all—seamlessly, miraculously, full of grace. It’s no different with hosting friends at home and she makes cooking an elaborate meal for guests look like an effortless task, smiling through it all. She makes even the tedious process of preparing one hundred dumplings by hand seem like a cinch.

Cat has learned through her work with Amber Lewis, the star designer behind Amber Interiors, that our homes are meant to be lived in, shared, enjoyed, and that nothing is too precious. Whether hosting a sit-down meal or having friends spontaneously pop in for a drink, the idea is to always keep things simple, playful, beautiful, and forever down-to-earth. In her own words, “Dance around and spill the wine. Imperfection is beautiful and life will go on.”

"Dance around and spill the wine. Imperfection is beautiful and life will go on!"

What’s your approach to setting the table and planning a menu for friends, whether planning for a big or small shindig?

I keep my table set-up simple, but it doesn’t have to be boring! I love incorporating pattern and color, and my current go-to is a checkered tablecloth, mismatched napkins, and hand-painted ceramic plates. I place them on the table before everyone arrives, add a few citronella candles in seagrass votives to keep the bugs away, and place whatever flowers I picked that week into a few little jars.

It only takes a few minutes, but makes all the difference. As for cutlery, I grew up only setting the table with chopsticks, so I don’t think twice about knives, forks, or spoons. I just bring them out when the meal is ready!

What’s your approach to setting the table and planning a menu for friends, whether planning for a big or small shindig?

I keep my table set-up simple, but it doesn’t have to be boring! I love incorporating pattern and color, and my current go-to is a checkered tablecloth, mismatched napkins, and hand-painted ceramic plates. I place them on the table before everyone arrives, add a few citronella candles in seagrass votives to keep the bugs away, and place whatever flowers I picked that week into a few little jars. It only takes a few minutes, but makes all the difference. As for cutlery, I grew up only setting the table with chopsticks, so I don’t think twice about knives, forks, or spoons. I just bring them out when the meal is ready!

An example caption and link: Shop This Tablecloth