Hosts at Home with Alice Naylor-Leyland

Let’s take a trip to the English countryside and inside Mrs. Alice’s wonderland.

WORDS BY
Elise Etem

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Welcome back to Hosts at Home, a new column here on The Social that’s all about modern entertaining and the people who’ve turned gathering into an art form. Join us as we get to know the hosts (and their tips ‘n tricks) who love a good party and beautifully set table as much as we do.

Alice sittin’ pretty in her gorgeous home.

Next up is wearer of many hats—including party— Alice Naylor-Leyland. Alice is the founder and CEO of Mrs. Alice, a London-based tablescape brand that we love (and are endlessly inspired by) here at Social Studies. She’s also a designer, Vogue contributor, wife and mother of three (!).

Born in Switzerland and raised in London, Alice’s whimsy, elegance and English charm echo throughout her designs and hosting style. Here she is in her own words…


Where did your love for entertaining come from?

It was definitely something I grew up with. My mother is the most creative person I know and I remember her entertaining a lot when I was younger—the attention to detail was amazing! For example, she used to tie different coloured ribbons to glasses to differentiate sparkling and still water and she would always have the most beautiful flower arrangements. I remember it all very clearly. 

How did your upbringing influence the way you entertain today?

I think it’s safe to say that the table was always laid beautifully when I was growing up. Whether it was breakfast, lunch or dinner, there would always be placemats, napkins, little decorations and so on. This definitely had an influence on me and whenever I lay a table I still use the same method I saw my mother use: tablecloths, linens, flowers, etc.

Host tip: Coordinate your outfit and table for full effect.

What about the ritual of setting the table is most sentimental to you?

I do it so often that it’s almost become therapeutic! The most special moment is actually seeing my guests walk in and appreciate the table—that never ceases to make me smile! As a ritual, I adore bringing out my beloved festive decorations that pop out of my store cupboard: flamingos, polar bears, swans, giant rabbits at Easter, glitter skulls at Halloween… My decoration store is definitely a bit mad!

Host tip: More is more. Especially when it comes to bunnies.

What are some host tips that you swear by?

I love to personalise place settings in some way, which always goes down amazingly well. I think the most important part of being a good host is being attentive and making sure your guests always have what they need. I also try to always put my guests at ease and make them feel as relaxed as possible.

I think the most important part of being a good host is being attentive and making sure your guests always have what they need.

Alice Naylor-Leyland

How frequently do you host at home and what does a typical gathering look like at your place?

We tend to host at home quite regularly as we live in the English countryside and like to invite friends up to visit. The amount of people changes on the occasion, but we often have a house overflowing with people, Covid-permitting of course. When we have guests, we mix it up: lunches are normally served family-style and dinners are slightly more formal. If it’s a special occasion or a holiday, we like to go all out on decorations, food, and the dress code!

Alice, dressed to the nines with her stunning pink table.

What is your favorite meal to serve when hosting at home?

I have to admit that my husband Tom is actually the chef, but we do the menus together! I think when hosting, the easier the dish the better. We often go for a slow-cooked leg of lamb with feta and pomegranate seeds, big salads with a few bits as add-ons. I love Tuscan pasta dishes, baked Moroccan eggs, simple grilled chicken with aioli or perhaps a whole baked fresh fish with salsa verde (which is delicious and adds a little drama, too). 

What is your all-time favorite dish to cook and can you share that recipe with us?

A dish that really sticks out in my memory is a tuna fish pasta that my mother would cook each Sunday for me before I went back to my English boarding school.

It’s certainly not super sophisticated but I remember it being so comforting and delicious. I actually adored going away to school and this was one of those special rituals I shared with my mum.

If you could invite any person to one of your dinner parties, who would it be and why?

Her Majesty The Queen. I think she is one of the people I respect most in the world. Besides her hugely impressive work ethic and dedication to her family and country, I feel like she must have some truly wonderful stories up her sleeve!


Keep up with Alice on Instagram @mrsalice.


DATE
September 24, 2021
CATEGORY
PHOTOS BY
Serena Nancy & via @mrsalice

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