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Here are 12 rules to follow to ensure that your dinner party doesn’t suck:

1. Invitations

No group emails. It should be a mystery who else is coming.

2. Guests

A dinner party has no fewer than eight people. Not all should be friends – too predictable. And not all should be strangers – too corporate. No trust. Not all should be married but, of course, all can be single. No children allowed.

3. Dress

Anything from trousers with heels to a cocktail dress. Men should wear some kind of jacket/ blazer.

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4. The Timing

8 pm for 8.30pm, with dinner being served at 8.45. Serving the food later than 9 pm is unacceptable. Leaving before 11 is to be avoided, unless by prior engagement.

5. The Welcome

Never ask a woman in heels to take her shoes off when she enters your house, however plush the carpet.

6. Food

No one cares [about it]. Not really. Any guests with any kind of vegan tendency or intolerance should eat before and never mention it.

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7. Table

Round is best for conversation. Long and thin is best for flirting –women along one side, men along the other. Try it. It’s better. A long linen tablecloth hides all number of indiscretions. No big centrepieces that people have to peer over.

8. Conversation

Be it religion or politics, be careful to guide the discussion so that it remains respectable and calm.

9. Smoking

If you can bear it, let people smoke. Those are always the best dinner parties. Otherwise, you’ll have everyone smirting [flirting and smoking] outside.

10. Town and Country

Wherever you are geographically, it is appalling to ask women to retire to the drawing room. Those times have gone.

11. Ting-ting

Make a brief speech if you must, but on no account go around the table asking guests to hold forth. Never say anything that starts with “I thought it would be fun if.”

12. Goodie bags

Absolutely none allowed.