If I am facing a heavy work week, I’ll often rely on deli’s for the above, piling bowls high with marinated artichokes, charred bell peppers, stuffed olives, preserved lemons, smokey aubergine dip, vegan spanakopita and herbed flatbreads to tear and share.
I always find that at dinner parties, it’s great to have lots of smaller dishes on the table centred around a show stopping piece, it encourages conversation and sets a relaxed but still lavish tone for the evening.
One pot dishes and tray bakes are also perfect choices for a main course for larger groups, think warm winter squash tarts with a rich nutty bases, or spiced roasted vegetable tagines, served with fragrant tabouleh and mint from the garden.
Whilst I don’t pick a theme for the evening itself or the dress code, I simply can’t resist setting the table with an inspiring theme in mind. I start with an object that anchors the tables cape in my mind, it could be crockery I have found at Notting Hill market, a new Reed design sample that has just been made up or wild flowers that caught my eye on a walk. Whatever your inspiration piece is, make it your focal point and design the rest of your table around it.
I love layered colourful table designs in winter, start with a good tablecloth, our Cavacus table linens have a distinctly feminine and heritage feel too them, or strike a bold and classic note with our Milford design. Our generously sized napkins lie beautifully on the plate or can be starched so that they stand to attention. Make sure your guests have linen hand towels or huckaback serving cloths at the drinks station and piles of Reed hemstitch cocktail napkins next to the tapas starters.
My only rule for flowers, is keep the arrangements low so that guests can see and talk with one another. Another quirk of mine, is I don’t like the table scape to have to work around bottles of sparkling water, bubbly and wine.
I always set up a self service bar for guests, whether it’s breakfast, brunch or dinner! An ice bucket, jugs of water with mint, cucumber and lemon, sparkling water, mixers, wine or bubbly and a bowl of lime wedges will mean guests can keep themselves topped up and happy throughout the evening.
Lastly is ambience, a dinner party should be food for the soul and a feast for all the senses. I like naturally scented soy candles to perfume my home with a scent that reflects the season, sexier more floral or woody notes for chilly evenings, mandarin and cinnamon for Christmas holidays and fresh lime and basil notes for summer soirees.
A few final touches and you are ready, make sure your powder room has a fresh pile of Reed linen hand towels. Dim interior lights and light lanterns outside even in winter, to create a sense of occasion. Spritz your entrance hall with an invigorating room mist and light the fire.