The return of social events with loved ones both inside and out is a cause for celebration and a beautifully set table filled with flowers and surrounded by friends is the perfect antidote to the past year.

Who better to inspire the return to dinner parties than the illustrious Plum Sykes, who, when she’s not contributing to American Vogue or writing one of her bestselling novels, is entertaining with elegance and ease (in equal measure) at on her impeccable estate in the heart of the Cotswolds. Here Plum swaps her love of books and the written word for a glass of Bollinger, revealing her best dinner party secrets.

Lily of the Valley

Dress up or dress down?

I am someone who loves clothes, fashion and designers. Whether I am dressing up or down I just really to try to do both as well as I can. If I’m dressing down I love wearing really fabulous jeans from someone like citizens of humanity with a gorgeous top from Chloe or Celine and great dressy shoes. If I’m dressing up I’ll definitely throw on a dress and some jewellery and a pair of Manolos. I love young designers. My friend Hamish Bowles, who is a work colleague from American Vogue, recently introduced me to the French designer Society Room, which is ‘Demi-couture’. I am just desperate to get one of their navy silk blouses and tiered skirts – for when we can all go out again.

I also love wearing great clothes for riding: another friend, Claudia Rothermere, introduced me to the equestrian line Miasuki which is out of Milan – you have never seen such incredibly chic and technical riding clothes.

Cocktail hour means?

I don’t drink very elaborate cocktails because too much alcohol actually makes me feel rather ill, but I absolutely love a Hendrick’s gin and tonic with masses of ice, lime and fresh mint.

On my playlist?

Mozart’s Serenade in Bb major, the adagio section. I can’t really work Spotify or any online streaming music things, it's too much aggro, so I’m stuck with classical music on the radio, which I love.

My dinner table is never without?

I always start my table with the tablecloth. I really feel that tablecloths are a bit of an obsession for me. I have tablecloths that I have made on my sewing machine using everything from old chintz to vintage liberty prints to French stripes. I have had times in my life when sewing tablecloths by hand has really helped me, because it is so calming to sit and sew – when I was ill a few years ago I sewed masses of tablecloths for my friends! Recently, I helped create a very chic tablecloth with my mother Valerie Goad who is a designer and my sister Alice who works in fashion.

I wanted something that was actually precisely fitted to the dining table and had beautiful lines, with a frill that swept the floor, and Valerie designed the most beautiful, pure cotton floral print tablecloth that has about 300 pleats around the edge, and takes about 15 yards of fabric. It is the most elaborate thing and looks like a Couture ball gown for the table. Valerie has had quite a few orders since my friends have seen mine, and her seamstress, Sue Duddy, who has worked with her for over 30 years, makes them all by hand. Sue Doesn’t complain about a lot but she did message my mother saying that “those pleats drove me nearly mad”.

“I always start my table with the tablecloth. I really feel that tablecloths are a bit of an obsession for me.”
Plum Sykes
Lily of the Valley

Favourite dinner party flowers?

I adore Lily of the Valley. They are so romantic and charming, and of course the smell is absolutely incredible.

What’s for dinner?

I am not a big believer in complicated dinner party food. I love very very fresh, just-cooked meat and vegetables – so things like wonderful lamb sourced locally, lots of different lovely salads, and of course a glass of Bollinger champagne.

Home-cooked or catered?

I have to be honest, I just don’t have the time (or skill) to cook my own dinner parties… But I have found some wonderful local chefs who will come and cook in my kitchen so it feels very homemade!

“I adore Lily of the Valley. They are so romantic and charming”
Plum Sykes

Best kept party secret?

Winter or summer, always have the fire going – it creates so much atmosphere.

Greatest recipe ever copied off a restaurant menu?

The blackberry and apple sorbet from Colbert. Absolutely incredible.

Dream dinner guests?

I love talking to other writers so a dinner party consisting of Ian McEwan, Edward St. Aubyn, Peter Morgan, Cressida Connolly and Jilly Cooper would be a dream.


Truth or dare?


What’s for pudding?

I love a home made lemon sorbet served in the lemon, on ice in a glass dish. It looks gorgeous and tastes so light and fresh.

Herbal tea or nightcap after dinner?

Depends on the party...if it’s a quiet supper at home, it’s Daylesford’s orange tea. If it’s a fun dinner party out and I’ve decided to take the plunge and stay up late, then a glass of pink champagne after dinner always gets me going.

Lily of the Valley




We are pleased to launch our “Dining With” editorial at the peak of the holiday entertaining season with hostess extraordinaire, Alice Naylor-Leyland in conjunction with the launch of her boxed table sets which make her magical tablescapes easy to order for your own holiday entertaining.




As the Publishing Director of British Vogue, Vanessa Kingori MBE is a trailblazer in the fashion industry and an inspirational force in the publishing world. We sat down with her to chat about her love of white flowers, and her childhood memories of hibiscus from her upbringing in the Caribbean.