The end of the dinner party? Why most guests say they are happy with a ready meal - and can’t be bothered dressing up

A recent survey suggests the formal soiree might be on its way out

Name: The dinner party.

Age: Dead.

Oh, I’m sorry. That’s OK. It was kind of past it, to be honest.

This isn’t about The Dinner Party, the epic feminist installation artwork by Judy Chicago, is it? Nope. Nor the 2020 movie. Though they would be – sorry, would have been – good topics for discussion at a lower-case dinner party.

We’re talking about those things that happen in Islington, then? Mostly north London, it’s true, although they have been known to occur in other places.

Where you go round to someone else’s house for tea? Well, yes, dinner, or supper. Two or possibly even three courses.

While engaging in repartee? You can talk about anything – politics, football, art, Matt Hancock …

Sounds like a nightmare. But they’re over, you say? Dying, certainly. A survey of 2,000 Brits found that 80% considered even the term “dinner party” to be passé.

Can I not go round to a mate’s house to eat? You can, but don’t bother dressing up; Seventy per cent 70% say they wouldn’t make any special effort.

Trackie bottoms? Fine.

Bring a bottle? Unnecessary, say 80%.

What about food? Lower those expectations. Nine in 10 say a host shouldn’t slave away in the kitchen and they’d be fine with a ready meal. A spokesperson for Stoves, the firm that commissioned the poll, suggests: starter of olives, hummus and pitta; a microwaved main; and ice-cream and berries for pudding. A few minutes to prepare and as little as £20 for four.

Oh, the glamour. Still, tough times and everything – sounds good to me. What does Stoves do? Stoves, in a word. Plus, other kitchen appliances.

Isn’t that a bit self-sacrificing, a kitchen appliance firm finding you shouldn’t bother spending time in the kitchen? A bit turkeys voting for Christmas? It does microwaves, too. And, you know, trends come and go. Just a couple of years ago, another survey by Stoves found pretty much the opposite: that dinner parties were on the rise.

Anyway, back to the current demise. Any reasons why we’re making less of an effort? Well, economics has certainly got a lot to do with it. But one food writer, Rose Prince, has also suggested that Come Dine With Me might be to blame.

The long-running TV series? Yes. She reckons it has turned everyone into a critic, and would-be hosts are simply “too frightened of what others will think”.

Is that why I can’t even boil myself an egg without hearing Dave Lamb in my ear, mocking? Yes it is.

Do say: “I’ve got pizza in the freezer – come over whenever. We’ll have it in front of the telly.”

Don’t say: “More ossobuco, anyone? Pass the polenta will you dear, but save a tiny bit of room for pud, I’ve made Cointreau souffle. Did you all see Newsnight, OMG …”

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
The bear truth: why happy pandas can’t be bothered to find a partner
Researchers now think pandas’ notoriously low libido is because they are too comfortable to make the effort to search for a mate

21, Sep, 2021 @3:48 PM

Article image
Tickets, passport … picnic? Why you may have to rustle up your own in-flight meal
Staff shortages mean many short-haul and even some long-haul flights could take off without any catering. Is it time to bid farewell to the mile-high bloody mary?

11, May, 2022 @3:56 PM

Article image
Early-bird special: could eating your dinner at 5pm help you lose weight?
According to a new study, having your main meal in the early evening can help the pounds drop off – and it might also make you bang on trend

05, Oct, 2022 @12:29 PM

Article image
Jaw-dropping news! Eating with your mouth open makes food taste better
Researchers suggest this habit actually makes for a more enjoyable meal – so it could be time to rethink your manners

25, Jul, 2022 @1:07 PM

Article image
Forbidden fruit: why vegans are up in arms over Tesco’s oranges and lemons
What happens when you treat citrus fruit with animal products like shellac and beeswax? They get lovely and shiny – and unsuitable for vegans

22, Aug, 2022 @3:53 PM

Article image
Lidl Tories v Waitrose Tories: which shop best represents the Conservative soul?
MPs love a political shorthand – remember Mondeo Man? Now Liz Truss has suggested a new identity for her party’s essential voter

05, Oct, 2021 @2:46 PM

Article image
The milkman is back! Can the smutty jokes be far behind?
Doorstep milk deliveries have soared under coronavirus. Let’s not revive the old gags about oversexed drivers and desperate housewives

08, Mar, 2021 @4:16 PM

Article image
Waiter, there’s a pearl in my dinner! The New Jersey couple who were served up a valuable gemstone
Michael and Maria Spressler’s surprise could be worth $10,000. That’s a cut above the mice, frogs and condoms that diners have discovered elsewhere

03, Mar, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
How the espresso martini became the world’s most notorious cocktail
It can now be found everywhere – in cans at Asda and in cakes on The Great British Bake Off. But the caffeinated classic certainly isn’t popular with everyone

11, Oct, 2021 @4:01 PM

Article image
It’s a Scandi scandal! Why has social media turned on Sweden?
A Reddit post said Swedes don’t feed their children’s playmates when they visit. But why – and why has it caused an uproar?

01, Jun, 2022 @4:03 PM