As the success of Come Dine With Me proves, not only is hosting dinner parties a national obsession, but we’re secretly critiquing our hosts throughout every course. So it’s important to get every step right.
Establish your guest list. You can invite several people who all know each other well, or several people who know nobody very well, but not some people who know each other like conjoined twins and some who have never met, that just isn’t a fair dynamic.
Then plan your menu. The simpler the better, think about what can be prepared hours before and left to chill in the fridge. Unless you’re a culinary show off, and don’t mind having a soufflé-induced meltdown whilst your guests are quaffing their way through your entire drinks cabinet.
Speaking of which, as every Come Dine With Me Contestant knows, alcohol is very important. Keep it coming, in large quantities. It will cover all awkward pauses and stop anyone noticing the tomatoes are not merely blushed, but downright embarrassed.
Etiquette says that guests should be made to sat alternately male/female, but actually you’ll find people are a lot more relaxed and open to talking if they just sit wherever they want. And presumably you’ve not invited any crashing bores that everyone wants to avoid being near anyway.
Finally, the music. Sticking your ipod on shuffle is never a good idea – that dance remix of Beyonce’s Single Ladies sounds great at a club, but less so when you’re discussing Middle Eastern Problem