Come Dine with Everyone: Updating the Traditional Dinner Party

With programmes such as Come Dine with Me and Dinner Date still all over our channels every day, you would think there would have been a resurgence of Dinner Parties across the country, introducing a new generation of hosts and hostesses across the nation.    I know, for one, that I am part of that demographic.  Five or six years ago I would never have hosted a dinner party, but now it is at least, when I am home in England, a monthly occurrence.

me paris
Tip for the modern dinner party: plough them down with wine if the food’s a catastrophe!

The 25th of January was (apparently) ‘National Dinner Party Day’ and I read an interesting article from Susan Mactavish Best stipulating the need for dinner parties to be in a more relaxed environment.  Equally the 2012  New York Times article discusses the downfall of dinner parties whilst harking back to many eras ago.   Unless you were Made in Chelsea or are a member of the upper class most people really don’t know the difference between all fancy cutlery and which trays to use.  Instead, I advocate the modern dinner party:  a relaxed and fun engagement with no pretence, where you can eat, drink and be merry,  but also sit and enjoy each other’s company a bit more than ordering a pizza and sitting silently in front of the television.

The modern dinner party should be like a less stressful Christmas day, except with people you have actually chosen to invite, and far more exuberant conversation.    It’s also nice to use the dining room table.   From what I have seen in my own family and of others, more and more people tend to grab their food and sit in front of the television, or when sitting at the table most people have their phones/tablets/laptops out, me included.  I like to sit in silence when eating my dinner at home without straining conversation in a fake environment, but at the same time the acknowledgement of this deeply saddens me.   The dinner table in my house is actually rarely used for dinner.

I also think that dinner parties are one of the best ways of creating memories, as long as you don’t crack the monopoly board out.  One of my favourite dinner party stories is in Bridget Jones where she makes a catastrophic dinner, and I always found it so endearing.  While I am certainly not the best cook it is nice to experiment, and as long as your friends aren’t expecting gourmet cuisine then there will be no disappointment.

Do you ever have dinner parties?  Is eating in the new going out?  Would you rather go to a relaxed dinner party, or a formal do, violin player in the background et al?  Let me know!

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