After a number of false starts and considerable frustration, I’m relieved to finally be able to share a palm leaf and birds of paradise tropical tablescape.


Consider this setting plan Bee. Or, maybe it’s C or D? I had to come up with a new table styling plan when my initial vision didn’t pan out. Finally, a lovely bird of paradise stem provided new inspiration and direction.

Hosted by Chloe of Celebrate and Decorate, today’s post is part of the Late Summer Tablescape blog hop.

I’m really excited to see what so many talented and clever table stylists have to share. With several weeks of August still left, I’m in no hurry for summer to end. Are you? I especially like the opportunity to dine alfresco.

Come on and join me, outside, on the covered porch. Imagine a paddle fan circling overhead, creating a cool breeze while you sip a refreshing, frozen concoction.

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Palms at the Heart


Initial inspiration for a tropical tablescape began late last summer. That’s when I scored six palm-print, melamine plates on clearance (Pottery Barn). Too much of a steal to worry about storage!  Besides, I’d always wanted to set a Palm Beach style table.

Fast forward to May, when I came upon a package of six palm leaves (Hobby Lobby). I figured they’d bee perfect placemats for the tropical tablescape.


Later that same afternoon, I found darling plastic parrot glasses (Home Goods) on clearance. Aren’t they fun?’


Back then, I figured my tropical tablescape was well on it’s way to coming together. And the price had been right too!

Because we were on a Provocative Peru Trip for most of the following month, I had to miss June’s patriotic tablescape hop. I figured I’d have all of July to gather everything else together for August’s party. You’d think right?

No to Flamingo

Shortly after July 4th, I started shopping for flamingo accent plates. I wanted them to add a pop of pink and whimsy to the tropical tablescape.

They’d coordinate well with the pink tablecloth, napkins and glasses I already had. You can see them in Vintage Easter Table and Alice in Wonderland Table and Party Favors.

Plus, I figured it would be fun to Play Flamingo Croquet after dinner.

Before we had gone vacation, I had mailed all kinds of flamingo theme tableware as a housewarming gift to a friend. But, when I went back to Dollar Tree, everything was fall and Halloween already! I was kicking myself left and right that I hadn’t picked up more of the melamine flamingo plates before. Dumb, dumb Debbee!

So, I expanded my search to also include plates decorated with pineapples. I went all over town; from Tuesday Morning to Pier 1 to William Sonoma. Nothing!

Switching Gears

With August fast approaching, I briefly considered using a completely different table that I was styling in the dining room.

A Greek Tablescape & Olympic Torch Napkin Fold was another table nearly a year in the making — ever since  a trip to Amazing Ancient Athens.

The formal setting didn’t really fit the blog hop theme for a Late Summer Tablescape. And, I’m ever the Queen of Theme, LOL!

After retrieving faux olive trees from basement storage, I decided to reorganize my seasonal decor and tableware downstairs.

See the detailed post, how I Pack and Store Holiday Decorations, Tableware.

That’s when I happily came across two forgotten sets of clear, fish-shaped plates. Fish are in tropical waters, right? Even better, I’ve never shared them in a tablescape post before. 

But, clear plates weren’t going to provide a pop of contrasting color. So, I came up with a new table styling plan. Another trip to the store for faux palm and bird of paradise stems (Target) — also on clearance — put me back on track to create a tropical tablescape.


Still, challenges continued to plague the tablescape I envisioned.

Tropic Troubles

As pretty as the tropical tablescape looked on the covered porch, it proved to be stubbornly unphotogenic.


All the bright light surrounding the glass tabletop, clear fish plates, water-filled vases, and plastic stemware created a lot of reflection. I tried taking pictures from different sides of the tropical tablescape at various times of day — to no avail. Still glare!

See what I mean?


After I photographed the tropical tablescape, I also realized that ironwork of the pedestal and chairs made for a cluttered view. A tablecloth would have helped with both problems. But another wasted, half-day shopping excursion left me empty-handed again.

Bee that as it may, let me show you around.

Styling a Tropical Tablescape

Palms Down

Initially, the dinner plates completely obstructed the palm leaf placemats from view. So, I played around positioning the leafs, which were smaller than I realized.


Angling the placemats to the left at each setting, resolved the problem.

Something Fishy

Next, I layered the larger fish-shaped dish on top of the palm leaf plate; with the tail slightly extending over the edge.


I bought the fish platters before I was married, while living in Washington, D.C. Come to think of it, that may have been the start of my plate addiction?!

They compliment my Kitchen Coastal Decor and mix and match with the seasonal tableware.

Can you make out the curved sides of the fish platters? They’re nice for keeping juices and sauces from spilling over the edges. I often used the fish dishes whenever we fondue.


Fondue was all the rage back in the 1980’s. Because of their popularity, I think we received three or four fondue pots as wedding gifts. I still have one sterno and another electric fondue set. Do you fondue?


Later, I found four smaller fish dishes to use for appetizers or side salads. Little dipping cups fit in the right-hand indentation (circled in orange); good for holding cocktail sauce or melted butter. Since I’m serving a salad  at the tropical tablescape, they aren’t needed.

Bird of Paradise Napkins

Instead, I’ve placed a napkin on each plate, folded to resemble a bird of paradise.


But, they weren’t the pretty tangerine shade or print I wanted, in order to add color to the tropical tablescape. Off I went on yet another shop and purchase mission. But, once again, I came up empty. The only orange napkins to be found had pumpkins on them!

So, I used the dark green cloth napkins I already had. A little boring color wise, I know.

Update:  Subsequently, for the Fun Flamingo Tropical Table, I used the same napkin fold. But this time, I used bright pink napkins that popped.


I was inspired to create the napkin fold from the faux bird of paradise in the centerpiece.


Bird of paradise … is the quintessential tropical flower. It originates from South Africa, where it is also nicknamed the Crane Flower… gets its name from the fact that its flower is made of three bright orange petals and three blue petals which are fused together into a single bud. As the flower blooms, each petal makes its debut and the resulting shape mirrors that of a tropical bird in flight.” FTD

Can you see the resemblance to the flower?


Folding a napkin in the bird of paradise shape was surprisingly easy. Although, a stiffer fabric would have been more ideal. I simply searched Pinterest and found lots of tutorials.

Napkins folded into clever shapes is sure-fire to impress guests. Often, no additional napkin rings are required. Check out, Napkin Folds for All Seasons, Holidays & Occasions for more ideas.

Leafs & Twigs

For the centerpiece, I used a single, large palm leaf placemat in the center of the table. 


Then, I filled a trio of tall, clear vases with water. Next, I inserted a faux palm or bird of paradise stem (Target) in each. I literally tied them together with a wide, palm-print ribbon (Hobby Lobby).

Table Tip: Adding water helps create the illusion the florals are real. But, don’t leave the stems in the water more than a few of days, or you might get an rust stain on the bottom of the vase.


For the flatware, I pulled out my copper twig pattern.


When I purchased the flatware, I envisioned it primarily for  fall tablescapes, like Birds of a Feather Gather Together. But, Moose Toboggan Ride Tablescape Winter Fun, and A Tweet Tablescape to Welcome Spring, extended its use.

Now, with a summer tropical tablescape, I’ll have used the twig flatware year-round.


Sure, bamboo flatware would be ideal, but I didn’t think it was a necessary expense. What do you think, does the twig flatware work in a tropical tablescape?

Parrots Party in Paradise

And, those parrot stem glasses add a little height and whimsy to each place setting.


More green though, doesn’t add much color contrast. But, if you look closely, the clear plastic has a light purple tinge.

Thinking about the parrots, macaws, toucans, and flamingos we saw, Bird Bonding at the National Aviary last week. And yes, no tropical bird plates in the gift shop there either!

Update: A year later and I’ve created another tropical tablescape, Summer Jungle Table & Palm Leaf Napkin Fold. It features exotic animal print plates and a beautiful pop of turquoise in a simple napkin fold. And I found a work-around with the glare issue too!

Related Post Picks

Table Hop Time

It’s a weeklong celebration of summer, with two dozen table stylists sharing their creations. With all the issues I had with the tropical tablescape, I’m sure glad to bee at the start!


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