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Tropical Escape

by elyn_ryn

Whimsical Placemats

This tropical table uses flamingo placemats and a black chalkboard table runner, just like my Tropical Mimosa Table. Look at both tables to see how to get different looks with the same placemats. This tropical table has a very casual look with disposable plates and flatware and is easy to put together.

I used the Tropical Flamingo Placemats from Hester and Cook. These paper placemats come as a pad of 24. You pull off each placemat when ready to use the same way you pull off sketch pad paper. The rest of the placemat sheets remain attached to the pad until you want to use them.

These placemats are whimsical with bright pink flamingos and tropical green leaves. To keep the flamingos visible, I slid the placemats closer to the center of the table, leaving a wide margin around the table, as shown below. Then I placed the plates lower on the placemats to leave more of the placemat design exposed. You can also offset the dinner plates to the side of the placemats and opt to cover only one side of the placemat. When placemats are this eye-catching, you don’t want to hide them!

Disposable Plates

I used pressed palm leaf plates, which complements the tropical theme. They are sturdy plates, and you can see the leaf imprint across each pressed plate. The plates are made by a process that starts with naturally shed palm leaves. They are heated and pressed into plate shapes without using chemicals or additives. Because they come from shed leaves, no living tree is cut to make them, which makes them a more sustainable choice.

Depending on what you serve on them, you can reuse these plates by wiping them with a damp cloth.

Disposable Flatware

I used rose gold-colored metallic disposable flatware. It is an inexpensive alternative to buying real cutlery when you want a different look or color for a party. The good news is that there are lots of realistic flatware choices in lots of colors. Additionally, you can wash and reuse plastic flatware so that it lasts longer than one party.

Napkins and Napkin Rings

I used handmade raffia-wrapped napkin rings, but any basic plain wooden or metal ring will work, as well as rattan napkin rings. I used a blush-colored ribbon to tie together a fern leaf, mimosa leaf, and a faux orchid in a blush-colored ribbon that matched the napkins. Then I spread the napkin flat and gathered it in the middle, pulling it into a cone shape. I slid the napkin ring around it and stuck the tied flower and greenery in between the ring and napkin.

Flowers and greenery are a pretty way to dress up napkins. You can also make the flower bundles a day ahead of time. Then place them into a sealed plastic bag and keep them in the refrigerator. Also, you can use real orchids from a grocery store plant if you don’t want to use faux orchids. A bonus is that the orchid plant will eventually bloom again.


This table has pink reed-wrapped stemless glasses, which are trendy now for casual and tropical-themed tables. Although glasses made by different manufacturers have different names, such as seagrass, cane, reed, wicker, and rattan, most of them have a similar appearance. When buying these types of glasses, look for ones you can remove from the wrapping because they are easier to wash.

These types of glasses come in different colors, including white, pink, blue, and natural–which is the most popular and easiest to find. You can also get a pink look by putting a pink drink in a natural-colored wrapped glass.


I used colorful roses and mimosa leaves that look like ferns for the centerpiece. I picked the roses based on the colors in the flamingos on the placemats. When choosing flower colors to match flamingos, look for warm colors such as pink, salmon, peach, and orange.

I mixed real tropical leaves with faux orchids and berries because I couldn’t find orchids in the colors I wanted, and none of my orchids were blooming!

Mix real and silk flowers to get the look you want. Many silk flowers are hard to tell from real ones. Orchids are an especially easy flower to substitute faux flowers for, as they naturally grow in perfect shapes! I placed the silk flowers in with the real ones in a vase of water. The water can fool people into thinking that all the flowers in the vase are real flowers.

Cut the flower stems short and place them in small water-filled vases in the center of the table.

For the best color impact, place three to five flowers of the same color together in a vase and line the center of the table with them. The short flowers and vases add lots of tropical colors but are not in the way when guests talk to each other.

Watermelon-Flavored Macarons

I used watermelon-flavored macarons on this tropical table because I associate the pinkish-red watermelon color with colorful flamingos and the pink and green placemats.

These macarons have watermelon-flavored buttercream filling and vanilla-flavored shells. They take a little practice but are not difficult to make. You can find the recipe here.

Tall Arrangements

Tall arrangements look pretty on the table but can block guests from talking to each other across the table. Sometimes I place tall flower arrangements on the table before the meal. Then I move them to the food table or bar cart right before the meal starts. That way, your guests can enjoy a decorated table before the meal, and you can use the tall arrangements on other serving tables while everyone eats.

Click here to see a different way to set this table using these same placemats.


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