Got a few people coming round for dinner? Here’s how to make it feel a little fancy with supper club-style touches and insider tips from supperclub host and BBC Radio 1 DJ Alice Levine
If you've ever been to a super club, you'll know that they're hard to beat in terms of ambiance and sense of occasion when having dinner with friends. So next time you've got friends coming round to yours and you want to make it feel a bit special, here's some insider tips from supper club expert Alice Levine. Brought to you by the purveyors of all things party, Ritz Crisp & Thin.
Why do it?
Because it feels a little bit more special than your run-of-the-mill dinner party. You’re merging the cosiness of a dinner party with the sense of occasion of a restaurant meal. And if you’re proud of the food you cook, then why not treat it properly by giving it the exposure and attention it deserves?
Creating an atmosphere that’s welcoming and fun is key. “Have a little rejig of the layout of the living room to make it a bit more communal,” suggests Alice Levine, one half of London-based supperclub Jackson&Levine.
Push sofas and other unnecessary furniture into the corner and cover them with throws. Change light bulbs so that they let out an orange glow instead of the bright white light we’re more used to.
Lamplight has a great effect – not only is it flattering, which makes everyone feel good about themselves – it makes everyone think about getting comfortable and settling in for the evening.
Make a playlist. It doesn’t have to be themed to match the evening and the food (although it could be). Just be wary that silent patches in music that coincide with lulls in conversation can be a little jolting, so it’s nice to have the music sorted.
“We tend to lay out vinyls ready for when a record stops so you don’t have that awkward moment of ‘will someone put another song on?’” says Levine.
If you don’t have the chance to plan out a playlist then tune in to a radio station that you can rely on. “We really like Fip Radio, a French station that you can get online. They play all sorts from pop, indie to jazz and it’s all in French,” says Levine.
Whether you write what you’re going to serve on a board or type it out on coloured paper with dried flowers attached to the top of each one, it’s nice to let your guests know what they’re having for the evening and give them a chance to get excited.
Individual menus are nice because your guests can take them away with them as a keepsake; however, just writing the menu on a blackboard will mean that you only have to write things once… and you can change the menu last minute if anything goes wrong!
Any surface can be turned into a blackboard with a lick of paint, so you can be as original as you like. An old cupboard door salvaged from a tip or a tray from a charity shop would both be quirky and appropriate.
Email invites are easy, but the retro touch can be nice too. Levine says, “We bought a typewriter and we type out invites to send to people in the post, which I think is a nice touch. It’s only the cost of a stamp and actually, in amongst all the bills you get in the post, it’s nice to get something that’s got your name hand- typed on it - beats everything else”.
Candles, flowers and plants can look really special and they don’t have to break the bank. “We sometimes use single-stems like one or two large hydrangea and then you only need three to place on the table along its length,” says Levine.
In fact, nothing has to be expensive. “Head to charity shops; we’re huge bargain hunters so we would never spend a fortune on crockery.”
Falcon enamelware is very ‘in’ at the moment and is super-durable and will last forever. And rather than aiming to match everything, mix it up with different sized glasses, vintage patterned plates and cutlery.
“Everyone always asks us about our napkins!” Says Levine. “We really like those French style linen napkins with the red band that you get in French bistros, but they’re quite a lot of money. We bought Ikea tablecloths that look exactly the same and we use those as individual napkins !” (see above)
A welcome drink and a few bowls of crisps or salty snacks dotted about the place are the perfect way to get guests to relax on arrival. Rather than the usual wine, why not push the boat out with a cocktail?
Jackson&Levine do a signature cocktail with homemade elderflower cordial, Hendricks gin and Prosecco, garnished with ribbons of cucumber and slices of pink grapefruit. Levine says, “get your guests a little bit tipsy and then everyone will start talking”.
Put on the Ritz for all occasions with Ritz Crisp & Thin. Try the deliciously tangy Cream Cheese & Onion, the irresistibly moreish Sea Salt & Vinegar, sophisticated Sea Salt & Black Pepper or pack-a-punch Sweet Red Chilli.