She’s the one people turn to when they yearn for a stylish living space, and the houseproud will know that Hong’s decor store, Affordable Style Files (ASF), in Dempsey Road, is stocked with gorgeous furnishings to add instant chic to any home.

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Hong moved to Singapore from Australia in 2015, and lives here with her husband, David, and two children, Miya, aged seven, and Charlie, five. Between shuttling the kids to extra-curricular activities and running ASF, the vivacious 35-year-old enjoys entertaining at home.

“We normally have friends over for dinner twice a month,” she says. “What I love about being a host is I get to style the table, make some delicious meals and then we all get to sit, mingle and enjoy the setting!”

Here are Hong’s top ten tips to throwing a stylish and stress-free dinner party at home:

1. Pick a colour scheme of around three colours which your decor will revolve around. 

Hong went with green and muted pink on a white base. “Pink and green combinations are very on trend at the moment,” she says, as they’re in line with the botanical theme and “jungalow” type of home (that is, a home decor style that heavily features indoor plants and natural textures and colours).

Tip: Create a stylish and soothing centerpiece by placing fresh flowers in vases of varying shape and height.

2. Freshen up with flowers and plants.

“Plants are an inexpensive way to decorate a space, as blooms often cost more. Green leaves can last a long time as well,” Hong adds. But you still need fresh flowers to brighten up the space and add colour to it. “Buy flowers the day before so that you can arrange them, and make sure they’re in full bloom for the party,” Hong recommends. Opt for a variety; you can’t go wrong with hydrangeas, tulips, roses and small filler flowers like statice, gyp and feverfew.

READ MORE: 10 Fresh Ways To Update Your Home Decor With Lush Botanical Prints

3. Keep unnecessary stress at bay by prepping food ahead. 

“Sit down and write a menu and grocery list to make sure you have everything before the party. And prepare foods the night before or first thing in the morning, if possible. Often, preparing desserts the night before or morning of the party helps them taste better, as time allows the flavours to sink in.”

4. Know your guests’ dietary needs. 

“Make sure all guests are catered for, as there’s nothing worse than serving all meat at a dinner when some guests are vegetarian. Also, make a note of any allergies your guests may have,” Hong advises.

5. Consider displaying dishes on a separate table or on your kitchen counter beside the dining area.

“This style works for us as when guests arrive, we don’t necessarily sit down at the table right away. We make lots of finger foods for everyone to enjoy first,” Hong shares. “It’s also nice to serve from the counter if you have a great array of food; but for a more formal dinner, food can be served directly on plates at the table.”

6. Style up your serveware.

“Wooden platters and chopping boards help create beautiful displays for your food,” says Hong. It’s a simple trick but instantly turns simple plates of food into a gorgeous spread. (Here, the dishes were prepared by Hong’s good friend, food blogger and author Terri-Anne Leske.)

7. Pay attention to ambience.

Once the food and visual decorations are in place, how does your home feel? The kind of atmosphere and mood your home emits can make or break the party, so you’ll want to create a warm, inviting and comfortable environment.

READ MORE: How To Set The Right Ambience For A Stylish Party, According To The Experts

Tip: Greet guests with a drink dispenser filled with refreshing cold water, fresh lemon slices and mint leaves!

8. Mood lighting is essential.

Hong says, “Rather than turning on all of your main lights, dim the lights a little and add some softer lighting with table lamps. Light some scented candles as well, and this will not only create a welcoming scent but candle light is always nice and calming. And then, put on some ambient music before guests arrive to build a relaxing mood.”

9. Prepare a bar area at or near the entrance of your home.

Welcome your guests and help them feel at ease. “Have a glass of champagne ready to serve chilled once your guests enter. This will help create a lovely mood,” Hong says.

10. Wind down in the living room. 

When the meal is over, encourage your guests to continue conversation in the living room where they can sit back and get more relaxed. Hong adds, “We often put on music, serve more wine and move into the living area.”

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Text: Elizabeth Liew
Photos: Veronica Tay, assisted by Sherman See-tho / Art Direction: Christina Lim