There are few things in life that are as stressful as throwing a dinner party for your friends, all of whom you do love, but not necessarily when they’ve been drinking for hours and are now armed with a knife and fork. Satisfying hunger isn’t enough for the modern host or hostess, and being a student means you have the extra challenge of making sure nobody gets hurt or breaks something (household object and/or limb), or starts fighting with the person next to them.
So. Here are some tips to make sure that even if your dinner party ends up being a complete and utter disaster, you won’t end up crying by yourself in the kitchen wishing you hadn’t bought that world’s best chef apron and drinking wine from a straw in the bottle… actually, forget the straw.
1. Make a seating plan. Not because you really want to show off your best stationery set that you got years ago for your birthday and have never had a use for, but because in the interests of everyone’s safety, make sure that people who don’t like each other don’t sit anywhere near each other. You need buffers and, in the worse case, take a bullet for the team and place yourself as the mediator.
2. Fix the food:people ratio. If you’re having a small gathering, then everyone will say how incredible it was regardless. Mostly because they were sitting right next to you anyway, but if more people are coming then make something carb-friendly from the holy triumvirate: Pasta, Rice or Potato. Basically, just serve any one of these with sauce and you are golden. This is also what you’ll be eating for the rest of the week when your card gets declined at Tesco the next day.
3. Make your timings clear. Because everyone has a different definition to what “arrive on time” means. Plan to serve after half an hour, so that if people are late, they are really fucking late.
4. More is more. It must be a biological thing, or maybe just a fact of being a student, where everyone suddenly develops a huge appetite when the food is free – so serve a mountain. Expect people to go for seconds… no judgment.
5. Don’t expect conversation. Yes, conversation as in people conversing and exchanging ideas – the best you can hope for is everyone yelling over each other until one person will say something spectacularly embarrassing during that quiet lull at the table. The worst case is when one person will get up and yell: “Uuunion!” at the top of their voice, and you know that you now have some serious competition to deal with since you are allowed to run around the Union, and you can’t in a flat.
6. Wear underwear for when you end up dancing on the table. Pretty self-explanatory.
And finally but most importantly…
7. Let Martha Stewart be your spirit guide. She may have been sent to prison but I still bet she would have colour co-ordinated her dinner with orange AND made it look classy.
If you follow these rules you too can have a lovely night just remember to ask someone to take photos: the night could be wonderful, but you may not remember it.
image © Mafalde de Freitas