Tropical Xmas Holiday Entertaining

It’s December and the sounds of parang are filling the air around the clock. The streets are jam-packed and people have that frenzied look that comes with too much shopping still to do, and not enough time. Whether you are a Trini, or looking to add some twists to your traditional festivities, this tablescape is sure to have something Caribbean Glam for you icon_smile-2657225

For this setting I was heavily influenced by the sounds of parang and colour of poinsettias. No cotton wool ‘snow’ scenes or ceramic Santas here. As a child growing up in the hills of the scenic Northern Range, my mother grew large poinsettia plants. As the temperatures would start to dip, it would trigger their leaves to flush bright red, a process I found endlessly fascinating. Red is also our national colour, and it ties in beautifully as well with the costumes of many paranderros. When dealing with a colour as strong as red you want to keep patterns and contrasts to a minimum. Work with subtle additions of gold (added here through a poinsettia centerpiece, votive candle holders and napkin rings). Patterned napkins work wonderfully with single-tone napkin rings, solid napkins with multi-toned rings.

As you’re enjoying the company of loved ones and great food put on some CDs of Trinidadian Christmas music, as well as music from the other islands, and light some strategic tea light candles. Having the cases on side tables is sure to trigger conversation, trips down memory lane and musical requests .

Speaking of Caribbean Glam, last week I attended a local soireé last year that epitomized the concept. I include some images of that evening here as further inspiration for your own home entertaining this season.


The best holiday parties share a flair for ambience and flavour. With a table setting like the one above, it’s easy to see that this was a hole in one. Fluid gold detailing was the perfect frame for a menu which included stewed peas, caramelized plantains, mini pastelles, and some of the most delicious salmon I’ve had in recent memory. Dark earthen tones, allowed the lustre of the dishes to become even more evident under the glow of clean-burning oil votives. Warm tropical nights are made for congregating outdoors, and this evening was no exception. Enveloped by lush foliage guests mingled under gently flickering Japanese lanterns.


Continuing the theme of re-imagining and re-presenting local holiday delights the dessert course (prepared, as all the food was, by Khalid Mohammed’s Chaud) offered this surprising Biscotti with Pots de Punch de Creme which I am determined to reverse engineer for my own offerings *smile*. Punch de Creme in custard form? Yes please! Also turning up were squares of traditional Black Cake, made new when flanked by melt-in-your-mouth handmade marshmallows and macaroons.