Dinner Party Tips by Lauren Santo Domingo
For those with a penchant for tableware, you might want to take a seat: Moda Operandi and Cabana magazine have just dropped their second homeware collaboration, and we want it all. After the sell-out success of their debut collection, dotted with Murano glass vases and bamboo cutlery, Cabana’s Martina Mondadori Sartogo and Moda Operandi’s Lauren Santo Domingo have buddied up again for round two, a collection full of richly patterned tablecloths and crockery.
We wouldn’t expect anything less: singularly admired for her astute taste, no coffee table is complete without the latest copy of Martina’s magazine Cabana, where her championing of the world’s most beautifully layered interiors is infectious (Gucci’s Alessandro Michele is a fan). So too, LSD, whose reputation not only rests on her spearheading of an instant catwalk-to-closet retail experience via Moda Operandi, but also her legendary entertaining at her Hamptons home. On that note – who better to advise on hosting at your own home?
Here are Lauren Santo Domingo’s top tips for a winter dinner party…
What is the optimum number of dinner party guests?
16 is the perfect number.
Are seating plans a thing of the past?
People complain about seated dinners but they complain more about unseated dinners. Personally, I like to be shown to a seat otherwise it feels a bit like Lord Of The Flies. I think the trick is to have a seating plan but not to be too serious about it all. Unless it’s a state dinner – then by all means do have a formal placement.
Do you have an illustrator do your placements?
Fin Fellowes is my go to illustrator for everything.
What do you serve as an aperitif?
People are exhausted when they arrive – chatty Ubers, long flights of stairs – and whatever the ailment, water or wine should be available within moments of arrival. Anything more than that is just showing off… which I’m all for. (See below)
What’s your signature dinner party dish that never fails?
Twice baked potato with caviar.
What music do you play?
My husband has a record label and makes seasonal playlists. He also cooks. Feel free to hate me.
Any tips on what to do if there is a conversation lull?
Vodka. And married couples love to talk about people going through divorces. Also, speculating about closeted celebrities makes for a lively discussion. Scientology is another fun topic.
Are after-dinner games irredeemably naff?
I recently had an impromptu arm-wrestling contest at my apartment during Paris Fashion Week. Bianca Brandolini and Poppy Delevingne are stronger than they look. Another night Cara Delevingne taught us a fun game involving a cereal box and a spelunking helmet. But as a general rule, I like them after dinner, sometimes even during. I try to have a White Elephant (a gift exchange game) for holiday parties.
What should a guest bring for the host?
Nothing says “I don’t care” like a candle.
And the best “thank you” you’ve ever been sent?
A nurse with an IV drip.
What is the best hostess gift you’ve sent?
I recently found a beautiful set of vintage linen napkins monogrammed SM. I sent them to Sienna Miller.
What are your table setting tips?
It’s like getting dressed for a party, one needs to consider the occasion and the guest list. I once served tubs of BBQ short ribs in beautiful silver bowls with Battenburg lace linens. It was a beautiful high-low moment, and I was pretty pleased with myself until the cleaners told me the linens were permanently stained. I now work backwards from the menu.
Who would be your ultimate dinner party guests of all time and why?
I would invite special prosecutor Bob Mueller, the gentleman investigating Trump. To my left, I’d have Robert Massie the great Russian historian. And I’d ask Nixon to join for drinks after dinner.
Any tips you’ve picked up from friends along the way?
My sister-in-law, Vera Santo Domingo, throws the best parties. She always strikes the perfect balance and I often consult her when planning a party.
And when you’re ready for all fun to be over, what’s the best way of asking guests to leave?
I just sneak up to bed.