Debbie Tan-Hao: On Holiday Hosting & Styling

If Debbie Tan-Hao can summarize her annual to-do list, it will have these three: travel, shop, socials. She may have a seat in several of the companies the family owns, but she’s lucky to have her husband and children take the lead. She, on the other hand, holds the rein on matters of the home, including decorating, hosting parties and styling the men in her life. It does help that she loves fashion and shopping.

Invest on good clothes. Buy that dress that you look great in no matter what brand.

December is the busiest month for Debbie, if not challenging. The calendar is marked with social engagements for the family, business associates and the several cliques she’s part of. Most of the affairs may be themed, including the ones she’ll be hosting in her hilltop home with a scenic view of the city. That will require getting creative with the closet and cupboard contents.

How does she keep up? Debbie has several tricks under her sleeve, and she’s willing to share it. 

“I enjoy hosting informal and relaxed dinners. For formal gatherings, which doesn’t happen too often, I go the whole nine yards and give full attention to detail. My aim is to make sure all my guests are well entertained and would want to stay until the wee hours,” said Debbie.

The silhouette should be sleek and uncluttered, a classic look with a twist and accessorized minimally.


Here’s what I do:


Know the guests, their preferences, their allergies. From there, I create my menu. I bring out the bone china and set the theme according to my mood. I can’t cook, but I know where to order good food. 

I always have my mini grazing table for my guests before they enjoy the dinner course. I’m huge on desserts and I make sure I have a good selection, including my favorite M&S chocolates. These are what guests can nibble on to pair with coffee, tea or wine should the party linger until late.

I set the mood with my personal touches—fresh flowers, a nice tablescape, ambient lighting, and a soothing music playlist. On rare occasions, I hire a pianist to play live music, which we can sing along to as well.  More importantly, the powder room should be at its best.

Debbie enjoys hosting relaxed and no-fancy-dressing dinners in her hilltop home with a scenic view of the city.
3.   I prepare in advance to look my best when welcoming guests, that goes for the staff as well. 

On dressing up to any occasion, here are her personal rules:

The silhouette should be sleek and uncluttered, a classic look with a twist and accessorized minimally. The shoes play an important role. Remember, it can make or break the outfit.

Dress your age. You may be able to afford any clothing in whatever trend, but does it suit you? Every season, Marks & Spencer comes up with a good line-up of classic designs women my age will love. Choose the pieces that suit you and bring out the best in you. 


On hosted dinners, Debbie sets the mood with her personal touches—fresh flowers, a nice tablescape, ambient lighting, and a soothing music playlist.

Invest on good clothes. Buy that dress that you look great in, be that inexpensive fast fashion label or that costly brand but of superb quality. If you can wear all the time, over time, and bring out that inner glow in you, then that’s an investment.

Fashion: M&S Collection Autumn/Winter 2018 Collection available at the Marks & Spencer
Photography: Wizbren Ang
Make-up & Styling: Otoy Mercado

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