Table Talk with Laura Normanton

We spoke to interiors and lifestyle editor and writer, Laura Normanton about entertaining guests at home, with a focus on spring dinner parties. Read on to discover her advice and recommendations.

What are your top three tips for entertaining guests at home?

It may sound obvious, but prepare food as much as possible in advance so that way you can be chatting to your guests and enjoying a drink.
Pre-arrange a drinks tray with a full ice bucket, slices of lemon, glasses, cans of tonic and so forth. Its fun to make drinks in front of guests and saves you dashing back and forth to the freezer to get some ice or find a lemon to slice.
Light candles to create a welcoming atmosphere - place them around a fireplace, on the dining table and perhaps a scented candle in the loo. I also love the room spray from Diptyque; I walk around the house about 30mins before guests arrive and it leaves the most amazing aroma. 
As spring approaches, how will you add elements of the new season to your table styling?
Flowers are an easy way to add colour and interest to your dining table, and I like to stick to a maximum of two colours on the table. For a bit of drama and to add height, try branches of blossom arranged in a large vase - this would also look good on a hall table or kitchen island if the dining table isn't big enough.
What would be on your menu for an early spring dinner party? Are there any chefs/recipe books/favourite restaurants you look to for inspiration?
My husband does the majority of cooking in our house (lucky me!) but I am in charge of pudding when we are entertaining. I adore rhubarb and when its in season we get it from our local farmers market which I roast and serve with stem ginger ice cream and shortbread. Bill Granger, Ottolenghi, Nigel Slater and Diana Henry's recipe books are our frequent go-to's for inspiration. 
What drinks do you like to serve to guests?
Spicy Margherita (if you juice the limes in advance they are surprisingly easy to make!)
Who would be your dream dinner party guests and why?
I would have loved to have had a chat with artist Hilma Af Klint; I saw her exhibition at the Guggenheim and was blown away by how ahead of her time she was and am fascinated by the spiritual side of her work. Muhammad Ali would also be up there, for his raw charisma and way with words. Oh and lets not forget Robbie Williams from the noughties with his energy and that cheeky smile (I had a major teenage crush).
What would appear on your dinner party playlist?
Anything by the The National, Arthur Russell or Bon Iver
Tell us about the most memorable dinner party you've ever attended?
I went to a private dinner cooked by Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson of two Michelin starred restaurant Faviken. One of the many courses in the tasting menu was a poached egg washed down with a shot of warmed cow's colostrum! Surprisingly delicious.
Which 6 Rebecca Udall products would you use to style a spring dinner table?
I love that you can make so many pretty combinations from the RU table table range. I think the Mustard-yellow tones would look pretty for spring so I'll choose the Victoria striped tablecloth in burnt mustard paired with scalloped rattan placemats, Sophie napkins in antique gold, Josephine dinner plates and Charlotte wine glasses. With a Flora ceramic urn filled with seasonal flowers. 

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