I have always been a people person. I adore hosting dinners and drinks and ‘making a meal of it’ with friends and family. But more recently, I've found both comfort and joy in simply doing me. I am as starved as social interaction as the rest, desperate to see those I love, but there really is something to be said for making an effort when you're alone. Cooking for one is as much a form of self-care as having a bath, and hey, it gets you away from those dismal news broadcasts. In the comfort of my own home, I find solo dining liberating.
Any thoughts of it being a depressing carry on long gone. Instead I revel in how easy it is to bring joy to the mundane. Let's face it, we don't have much to get excited about at the moment, so it's important to elevate the simple things. The smallest bit of effort can make the mundane feel ceremonious. Healing, even.
I’m talking about getting dressed up (the dress you’ve been dying to wear for ages… paired with slippers – the dream!), putting the music on, and getting out your best crockery and cutlery. You can pick a cuisine and re-create a restaurant-worthy setting on your counter-top. If you love dim sum, like me, why not cook and dish them up in a bamboo steamer, which doubles up as a great centrepiece for the table. Pizza for one? Create a makeshift trattoria with a gingham tablecloth, serving platter, a linen napkin and a candle. Having a glass of vino while picking from a little bowl of olives is the key to prepping for this...take it from me.
From flower arrangements to the way you fold a napkin, the table decor is just as big a part of the evening as the food. I love using flowers to create impact for table settings - check out Palais Flowers and Worm for inspiration. I'm not a fan of whole bouquets on tables. To me they feel imposing and a bit OTT. I much prefer a single stem in a vintage bud vase. I've actually had my eye on these faux dried poppy stems – just one or two will enliven a place setting no end.
I must stress that I truly do practice what I preach. Last week I had a night to myself and cooked fresh scallops for one. Divine! And when my husband, a vegetarian, is away for work, I seize the opportunity to get a delicious cut of sustainably sourced meat from HG Walter, my favourite butcher. Or if I'm feeling like low effort comfort food, I'll stick a jacket potato in the oven, though it's always accompanied by a platter of potential toppings, displayed like a Michelin starred meal and drizzled with a herb infused butter.
If you do want company for Valentine's however, why not arrange a virtual date night with a friend, family member or loved one? Just like a dinner party of yore, it takes some organisation, but the rewards are worth the effort. I know many are suffering from Zoom fatigue but I promise you, there's always an "Oh wow, that cheered me up" message afterwards from someone in the group. That alone makes it worth it!
Pre-order Laura'S Hoste x Moët & Chandon Galentine’s Make a Meal of It Box, £55 HERE. (Meat and vegetarian options available).