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.
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…
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.
On September 22nd, the Sun left detail-oriented Virgo and entered flirty, Venus-ruled Libra. Libra season is all about embracing our inner FOMO by focusing our energy on gatherings, romance and partnerships, so pack that social calendar, baby! Libra season also coincides with the midpoint of the astrological wheel of the year (hello, perfect balance!) and the Fall Equinox. There is no turning back now as we head towards the end of 2021. Libra energy wants us to trudge ahead towards a more exciting chapter of our lives but best be sure you are looking fresh to death while doing so. Libra is a hot girl and she does hot shit.
On September 26, Mercury enters retrograde in Libra. We know. You feel like this transit just happened. Familiarity helps prepare us! This retrograde might feel a little stronger as Mercury feels at home in an air sign, so prepare for an extra dose of brain fog. As always, Mercury retrograde has a real knack for bringing the past into our present so don’t be surprised if secrets are revealed or if you finally get an answer to what seemed like a lifelong question. Remain patient, listen to Libra Szn on repeat, don’t impulsively start or buy anything new and remember that Mercury goes direct on October 18th, promising not to eff with us again until 2022.
On October 6th, we welcome both the Libra New Moon and Pluto going direct. Libra hates being stale so use the energy of this New Moon to consider how you can bring beauty and joy into your day-to-day life. New Moons are excellent for setting intentions so focus on what you want to call into your life regarding partnerships, balance and romance. Pluto, the planet of transformation, has been kicking it retrograde since April but now is direct and focused on helping push us into the next phase of our lives. The Moon and Pluto together don’t play so neither should you. Focus on what you want and dream it into reality. With the social Libra influence and Mercury retrograde energy, now is the time to reconnect with old friends or family you haven’t seen a while. Just remember to think a little bit more before you speak to avoid any Mercury retrograde misunderstandings.
On October 20th, we have a Full Moon in Aries. Aries is all about fire and intensity so this full moon is not to be trifled with. In fact, you might feel its energy popping for a few days prior. Full Moons often focus on endings and this one seems to hone in on relationships. The energy might feel volatile, so be kind to yourself. Now is the time for guided meditations, retail therapy, and dinner parties with your ride or dies.
To make the most of this Libra season peppered with Mercury retrograde, listen to Libra’s poster child, Kim Kardashian: “There’s a lot of baggage that comes with us, but it’s like Louis Vuitton baggage; you always want it.”
And just like that, fall is here! Goodbye, summer (and 24/7 AC) and hello cozy knits, colorful leaves, pumpkin everything and yes, festivities in abundance. You may notice your social calendar start to fill up around this time of year, but fear not, we’ve got everything you need to throw epic parties all season long, without the stress. Happy hosting!
Swipe through to browse our favorite Looks for any autumnal gathering or holiday, from Friendsgiving and Halloween to Yom Kippur and Eid al-Ahda. Take note of each Look’s name in the captions and be sure to show us how you make your table uniquely yours by tagging us @socialstudiesparty on Instagram!
More is more this time of year, so don’t be shy when it comes to your party’s decor. Add on one of our seasonal occasion boxes, which add the perfect touch of spook or gratitude to any gathering. Bonus: each box pairs perfectly with all of our Looks.
To help ease any awkwardness—or to simply add a sentimental touch to your next dinner party—borrow a page from host extraordinaire, Dana Cowin’s book and ask each guest to bring a dish that has meaning for them. Then, when everyone’s gathered around the table, each person tells their life story through their dish. This allows each person to share what’s most important to them—anything from work to family to travel.
One of the most important elements of any good party (and subsequent after party) is good music. Instantly set the mood this fall by cueing one of our curated Spotify playlists—we’ve got a mix for every occasion. Just don’t be surprised when said occasion turns into a full-on dance party…
I know I know, pumpkins for fall is a lot like florals for spring. But there’s a reason why these clichés exist and what can I say, the people love a good seasonal duo that can only be described as a match made in heaven. So lean into pumpkins this fall, starting with your food and drink offerings. To help get your menu planning engines revving, consider serving the below salad and cocktail at your next get-together. Click on each card for the recipe!
Welcome back to Another Round, a new column here on The Social dedicated to learning about the drinks we all love and the people who so thoughtfully shake, stir and pour them for us. With their expert cocktail-making and conversation-carrying skills, our friends behind the bar play a key role in making sure a good time is had by all and are the unsung heroes of any party.
Like Megan Jay, the badass Beverage Director at Urban Cowboy who we met at our unforgettable Nashville dinner during The “After” Party Tour. Megan’s humor and hospitality put everyone at ease and I was thrilled to catch up with her after the event to talk drinks and life as a bartender. And be sure to stay till the end for a special cocktail recipe she invented.
I started bartending full time in 2017. I parted ways with a kitchen job and found myself at a fork in the road—so to speak – with my cooking career. If I took another kitchen job it’d be time to commit to back of house for the rest of my service industry career, or, I could do a 180 and try something in front of house. I got a job as a barback, bought some cocktail books, and annoyed the fuck out of every bartender I worked with… watching them and asking questions until I eventually started getting bartending shifts.
I want to say a nice glass of scotch, but since we’re being honest, probably a shot of well tequila. Kinda rude but also fun.
Oh god, one year for Repeal Day, the bar I was working at threw a service industry party that was sponsored by Hendrick’s. If you worked in the industry you got to drink for free, period. Repeal Day landed mid-week that year so we weren’t really expecting a huge crowd but apparently word travels fast when there’s free alcohol, and we just got absolutely annihilated. In the 2+ years I bartended there, I’d never seen so many people crammed into that bar, ever.
Previous O.G. employees who came to the party just walked in and immediately jumped behind the bar, trying to bail us out. The owner missed a gala she was supposed to go to and instead ended up barbacking in an all-white dress and heels and all the guests who came were just eating it up. It was a complete shitshow, but since everyone in the room was service industry, they all knew what it was like getting your ass kicked like that and there was nothing but love and support (and hundreds of shots of gin) going around. It was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Same with the hangover the next day.
One of my whiskey reps brought in this Tabasco-flavored whiskey and wanted to mess around with making an Old Fashioned out of it. I happened to have some hot fries on hand as a snack (it’s a guilty pleasure, please don’t judge me) and he asked me to crush up some hot fries and rim the Old Fashioned glass with the hot fry dust. Obviously I obliged.
If you come to my house, I hope you like beer. Not craft beer, either, like… Modelo. If I’m feeling extra hospitable I might make you a michelada, but couldn’t tell you last time I made a cocktail at home.
I love pretty much everything about bartending, but if I had to narrow it down, the creative aspect is the most rewarding for me. I love taking a few minutes to talk to someone about what flavors they like and creating something off the cuff, just for that person. It’s definitely a bonding moment between you and your guest.
For god’s sake give me your group’s drink order at once. Promise I’ll remember it and the people behind you will really appreciate me making 5 vodka sodas (with a lime) at once instead of you ordering one at a time. That and guys commenting on a drink being pink or served in a “girly” glass. Guys; don’t ever do this, it’s so old.
Every time someone brings a dog into the bar I think about how sick it would be if we got to serve them drinks. I can’t imagine a more fun shift. Think about it.
Make Megan’s White Horse at home or serve it at the next party you host — click here to download the recipe!