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05/03/2013 15:30 | By Chris Pople, contributor, MSN Food

Having people over for dinner means a dinner you've made, not your local takeaway

Is serving takeaway food at a dinner party the height of bad manners or a natural response to entertaining guests on a tight deadline and as part of a busy lifestyle?


 

Having people over for dinner means a dinner you've made, not your local takeaway (© Getty Images)

The latest edition of the Debrett's etiquette guide has, for the first time, said it is acceptable to serve delivery food as long as the plates you serve it on have been warmed first, and that - crucially - you don't pretend you made it all yourself.

"…why even bother with anything as extravagant as a delivery Chinese - just put a Chicken Cottage Family Bucket on the floor and let people help themselves"

Phew! That's a relief, isn't it? No more messing around making an effort and being a generous host - just give the local Golden Dragon a ring and kick back with a glass of red until they all show up.

In fact, why even bother with anything as extravagant as a delivery Chinese - just put a Chicken Cottage Family Bucket on the floor and let people help themselves. With any luck you'll even persuade them to chip in for the bill, and by the time they've all left, any untouched bottles of wine will even mean you're up on the deal.

"To resort to outside catering is … an admission of failure as a host"

Or maybe - and here's a thought - we know better than a publication founded in 1769 the best way of running events in our own homes.

We can decide ourselves the best way of hosting a dinner party, and for most people I'm guessing the idea of unceremoniously dumping plates of takeaway in front of unsuspecting guests is a horrifying prospect. Dinner parties are opportunities to show how much you value your friends' company, to bring people closer together in a warm and generous environment and - yes - perhaps an opportunity to show off your cooking skills. To resort to outside catering is not only an admission of failure as a host but displays a remarkable contempt for other members of your social circle.

"If you don’t have the time or inclination to make dinner for your friends every once in a while, maybe you shouldn’t be hosting dinner parties"

Perhaps it's too easy to scoff at a fusty old publication like Debrett's. The surprise permission of takeaway food reflects a wider change in our attitudes to eating and entertaining and is maybe just a concession to the lifestyles many of us lead, which very often leave no room for hosting a dinner party at all never mind spending most of the day preparing for one.

But you know what? If you don’t have the time or inclination to make dinner for your friends every once in a while, maybe you shouldn’t be hosting dinner parties. Book a table at the pub, have a picnic in the park, go see a movie. Inviting people over for dinner means a dinner you’ve cooked yourself, and it will only take a portion of reheated sweet and sour chicken for your nearest and dearest to realise just how much you think of them.

Chris Pople is a food blogger who charts his food experiences online at his blog, Cheese and Biscuits.

Follow Chris Pople on Twitter: @chrispople

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK? IS IT ABSOLUTELY FINE TO BRING IN TAKEAWAY WHEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE OVER FOR DINNER? 
  • OR IS DEBRETT'S CONFUSING A DINNER PARTY WITH A SATURDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY-AND-FILM NIGHT?
  • LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW OR VIA TWITTER USING THE HASHTAG #SOCIALVOICES

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