How To Host The Perfect Dinner Party With Lay London

Meet Alice Herbert and Jemima Herbert, the women behind LAY London, a rental table scape platform launching this month! As much fun as hosting a dinner party can be, traditionally done it lead to so much waste. Which is where LAY London comes in. Keep the fab, but the loose waste. Our kind of thinking. After we co-hosted an incredible Sustainable Panel breakfast with them at the end of last year, we wanted to learn more about their business, how it works, and what are actually all of the best ingredients for hosting the perfect dinner party. Keep scrolling to read how to host the perfect dinner party. 

HURR: What inspired you to launch Lay London?
Alice: We embarked on a mission to make hosting more fun, but hassle and waste free. What if you could host a beautiful event at the click of a button, without it costing a bomb? I love the idea of having friends over for dinner and surprising them with a showstopping table-setting. This was the inspiration for LAY – making shared moments extra-special.
Jemima: We noticed a significant gap in the market in London, for easy to hire, attractive tableware that didn’t involve getting quotes and unnecessary faff when it should be a fun part of the party planning process.

What has the process for developing Lay London been like?
Alice: It’s definitely been a marathon rather than a sprint, we learnt pretty quickly that good things take time. However, working with a partner (and sister!) makes it that much easier to make important decisions and get things done.
Jemima: So much fun and a massive amount of learning. Especially when we decided to design and produce the china plates ourselves. We have since got to know the wonders of the pottery world in the UK and further afield when sourcing our cutlery and glass from Italy and the majority of our tablecloths from hand block printers in Jaipur.

How have your backgrounds influenced your party planning brand?
Alice: I planned events for luxury brands for four years in London and was always looking for ways to entertain guests with beautiful, shareable moments. I realised how a table-setting can totally transform a space – it’s what brings guests together after all! In my experience, the tableware available to rent was lacking in variety and often items were bought at great cost and used once. There was no service providing rentable tablescapes and I thought – why should amazing table settings only be available for big or big-budget events? This was the lightbulb moment behind LAY!
Jemima: We’ve both grown up with a big influence from creative parents who were always encouraging this side out of us. Making a thing of the table has always been focal to a family celebration so it’s been great creating looks that other people can now enjoy over and over again.

Photo: @chloewinstanleyphotography

Do you have a favourite, go-to theme from your range of collections?
Alice: When I think about why we started – to create bold, bright settings with a sense of fun – there’s one look that sums this up for me – the Fiesta Miranda. It has tropical colours with a floral printed tablecloth, pearl green cutlery and golden lanterns. It’s a fail-safe party-starter!
Jemima: For me, stripes are effortlessly chic, so I love our Secret Garden look and our Candy stripe Red look. I also adore our bobbly white handblown glasses that come with all three looks from “The Blues” collection.

Who would be on your dream dinner party guest list?
Alice: I imagine any dinner party is guaranteed to be a success with Kate Moss in attendance! I’d also love to be seated next to David Hockney, in the hope that he would sketch me something on a napkin…
Jemima: I think Trinny Woodall has the most amazing energy and business brain so I’d love to ask her to dinner, so I could ask her lots of questions. Graham Norton is next on the list as I think he is hilarious.

Tips for the perfect night of easy hosting…
Alice: If you want a party with serious wow-factor and be crowned the ultimate host…I recommend using LAY of course! It’s as easy as renting a dress – you pick your perfect tablescape and LAY delivers everything you’ll need. We know everyone has busy schedules and time is precious, so, if you’re working late or dashing for a manicure, you can choose our LAY-Up service so you don’t need to lift a finger laying the table. Easy peasy!
Jemima: Write lists! Firstly of things to do in advance of your party (like hire your tableware and dress!) and then things to do on the day. It’s so much easier to have the food all prepped before guests arrive so you’re not constantly turning over your shoulder for a chat with the early arrivals (you know the ones!)

What’s your most memorable party moment?
Alice: I went to an event at Annabel’s and ended up in a room where Naomi Campbell was undressing. Diamonds and couture were flying everywhere! Nothing naughty, she was just having an outfit change – with fresh hair and make-up of course. I thought this was genius – a solution to the dilemma of deciding between two outfits for one party!
Jemima: Last year I loved organising my best friend’s hen party but at the last minute the venue cancelled for a celebrity so we had to think on the spot and re-locate. We decorated the new space to the nines and hired in “Magic Betty” a crazy 80-something year old who sings to the piano. Luckily for us, it worked even better than the original plan.

What table settings from Lay London would you use for the next HURR event and which outfits would you rent to pair with them?
Alice: I have a weak spot for blue and white, and love our floral Chelsea Blues look for a lunch party. As I also have a slight fetish for ruffles, I’d pair the look with this amazing blue and white Gül Hürgl one-shoulder dress.
Jemima: For the next HURR event, I would use Fiesta Gloria which has the best mix of juicy colours to brighten up any day, all year round. I would choose the De La Vali ‘tangerine’ dress to wear, which looks like it’s crying out for some salsa-ing!

Follow LAY London on Instagram here.