Alexander Moments: Date Night
Making your own Alexander Moments at Home: Date Night – By Elliott Wakefield
Isn’t it remarkable how without our usual routines, very quickly we can be left pondering what the day of the week is? I’m a stickler for routine and luckily I’m well versed in homeworking and am fortunate enough to have a dedicated space to focus in when I am, but I too have been feeling the effects of the lock-down that seems to be a shared experience right now across our country. Aside from the quick wins – getting up at the same time, going to bed at a sensible hour, MAKING the bed – getting out of your PJs (etc.), the experience of this lock-down led me to wonder how we can punctuate the endless days.
In the hotels, one of our main 2020 campaigns is focused around creating our ‘#alexandermoments’ – be it a surprise in your room, that special table in the restaurant that catches the sunset, a tour of the kitchens – you get the idea. When this is over, you’ll have to check in with us to have your own Alexander Moment!
For now though, we’re left to our imaginations at home. When I started my career in hospitality, it was in restaurant management and I still enjoy little more than hosting a good dinner party. Obviously, they’re rather small soirees for the time being – just my husband and I. With him working in the NHS and working even longer days than usual, our suppers, like many other families I suspect, have turned into constant TV dinners – so I decided to surprise him with a special spread which brightened the week for us both.
Firstly, the table set up. I’m more maximal than minimal, and love hunting for special and quirky pieces of crockery and glassware in charity shops and little boutiques. Mixing and matching is a straight forward way to give your table some va-va-voom. I love charger plates, and think it’s a generally the mark of a stylish restaurant, so to recreate that at home I’ve set our place-settings with dinner plates, topped with bowls for our starter. When shopping for these pieces, if you’re after a maximal look, go for coloured glass, metallics and textures – and try and get at least x6 of each piece to let you experiment with mixing and matching without it looking like you’ve broken a glass and don’t have the whole set (been there…!).
The side ‘plates’ I’ve used are bronze pineapples, which actually are soap dishes! Of course we don’t put them through the dishwasher and don’t use them for food per-se, but they make a nice addition to the table and tie in with our giant pineapple ice bucket centrepiece.
The little bevelled-edge glass blocks beneath our knives are knife rests. I found them in a vintage shop in Amsterdam and couldn’t resist – by candlelight, along with the metallic pineapples their edges catch the light beautifully.
I always like to put out two or three glasses for a proper dinner – one for water, one for wine and one for fizz. However, to jazz up this ‘date night’ supper I decided we’d go for cocktails instead. Years ago a friend gave us a beautiful little Smythson notebook, intended for you to fill in cocktail recipes from travels around the world. We love the book but usually forget to take it anywhere with us – but not tonight! Sitting on a pretty mirrored tray (also gifted) I explained to my husband that this evening we’d be making concoctions from the drinks cupboard and recording our successes and failures – hence the cut-crystal martini glasses and gold-edged champagne coupes (both Soho Home).
The giant pineapple is an ice bucket which we used for making the cocktails as we went.
Finally, in setting the table I didn’t want there to be negative space left where guests might usually be, so I decided to make an arrangement of candles, flowers and objet d’art. I had lit a beautiful White Company ‘NOIR’ candle an hour or so before dinner but snuffed it out when we’re eating – so the room smelt lovely when we sat down but whilst we were eating there wasn’t anything to confuse the aromas of the meal itself.
Carrying on the metallic theme, I swapped the vase this lovely white bunch of blooms was in for the base of a copper cocktail shaker we wouldn’t be using that evening. Incidentally, the flowers were also gifted through the post by another lovely friend this week.
For me personally, I take pleasure in setting up beautiful arrangements and scene settings – it’s after all a major part of my job! – but when my husband was surprised with the scene (and the subsequent meal which was alright too if I do say so myself) he was delighted. It felt almost like we were going out for dinner – and it definitely broke up the week of TV dinners – AND we came up with some inventive uses of Midori too!
We can’t wait to create more Alexander Moments for our lovely guests when we’re able to re-open the hotels in earnest and for now, hope you enjoy some of our tips at home! – Elliott
Pineapple ice bucket – John Lewis
Cutlery – Glazebrook & Co
Crockery – Sophie Conran
Pineapple side plates – Next
Glassware – Soho Home
Knife rests – Unique find in Amsterdam