Expert advice: how to make your dinner party a roaring success

As party season begins, London supperclub hosts Laura Jackson and Alice Levine share their dinner party tips

dining table with greenery
Jackson & Levine

London’s hottest supperclub duo, Laura Jackson (above, left) and Alice Levine (above, right) have inspired a generation of foodies to open the doors to their own homes and start cooking for guests. We catch up with them to discuss dinner party dos and don’ts, as well as how to create the right mood.

Laura Jackson and Alice Levine
Laura Jackson and Alice Levine

How do you approach decorating a dining room? It’s about creating ambience, which sets the tone for the evening. A few flowers or some greenery and a stylish napkin can transform the most mundane of tables. Be inventive with simple things – we love painting empty mussel or oyster shells gold and using them to hold salt and pepper, or making name cards using mini snow globes or leaves.

What are your tabletop must-haves? Coloured glassware – our go-to shops are Habitat and Zara Home. We’re not precious with wine glasses, we prefer non-stemmed glasses, such as beakers or bistro tumblers. Also, tablecloths are important, they can improve the most unsightly of tables.

‘we love making name cards using mini snow globes’

Do you have a pre-event checklist? You need to make sure the crockery and glassware is clean and organised. It will also help if there is an order for the food to be prepped, cooked and served. Get the playlist ready, drinks chilled and cocktails made (early arrivals should expect to be recruited for these last-minute jobs). Give yourself five minutes to get changed before anyone arrives.

Any advice on what to serve? Our general rule is to choose a cold starter, hot main and a cold dessert. That way, you’re not in the kitchen all night, and you can enjoy the time with your guests – they have come to see you, after all.

Jackson & Levine supperclub setting
Jackson & Levine

How do you create a great party atmosphere? Candles are a must. There is nothing more indulgent than walking into a room filled with scent (although avoid anything too heavily floral).

Are there any essential tips for first-time hosts? Abundance is key – don’t run out of wine. Serve food on communal platters, as it helps to break the ice, and keep your menu simple. If you’re new to hosting, now isn’t the time to be Heston!

Which of your events have been the most memorable?
Last year, we hosted three consecutive supperclubs, tweaking the look each night to a different colour theme – dusky pink, dove grey and navy. Each scheme gave the space a whole new lease of life.

What do you enjoy most about hosting? The cacophony of chatter and laughter, glasses being topped up and stories told.

This article appeared in ELLE Decoration December 2018

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