the perfect guests

Dinner Parties – The Guests


While you can set the scene, dress the table, and serve wonderful food and wine, the truth is that ultimately, the success of the evening rests with the guests. They have to sing for their supper!

Therefore, who do you invite to create the right mix of people who will sparkle and stimulate?

Here are some of my tips about how to put the perfect guest list together:

1. It’s vital to invite the right mix of people. The wider range of jobs they do, the less likely they are to “talk shop” . In cities you can mix people much more than in the country where they feel more comfortable with their own types. In towns,  you can sit an hereditary peer next to a working class hero. Both might be surprised to discover how many interests they have in common.

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Dinner Parties – The Guests

5. Don’t invite Ex-es unless you are 100% sure they are still on good terms with one another.

6. Try to inject new blood into to your guest list. Old friends have heard your stories time and time again. Invite a new neighbour, a distant acquaintance, or someone you met on your last holiday. I have recently been to a very entertaining evening where each guest was asked to bring someone the others wouldn’t know. Think outside the box.


7. When possible, each guest should be placed next to someone they know on one side, and someone they don’t on the other. Don’t seat children at one end of the table and oldies at the other. Mix them up. You’ll be surprised how much they enjoy each other’s conversation.


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2. If you are confident enough to handle the fireworks, include someone controversial to spice up the conversation.

3. Your best friend married a bore, invite someone with a boring partner and sit them together. You could be pleasantly surprised! 

4. If your friends have children, try to avoid inviting them with singles.  This has often been my “bête noire”. Parents want to repeat their kids “bon mots”, the problems finding the right schools etc… The singles want to boast about the great parties they have been to and the good times they have had On the way home, each set will complain how boring the others where “all they wanted to talk about was their bloody children.”

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8. Nowadays, the boy-girl-boy table plan seems anachronistic since couples may be of the same sex.

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9. In these days of casual invitations, obstacles can await: You are asked “are you free Friday evening?” Having said yes, you discover who the other guests are. You are not too fond of them.  Too late to retract. A better approach for both parties would be “on Friday we are inviting X and Y for dinner, and we would love you to join us. Are you free?” This allows time for that face saving excuse.

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10. In today’s global world, serious socialites require some understanding of the international codes, if they want to “cut the mustard”.

The French never bring a bottle, unless it’s from their own vineyard. And they are offended if they are being served plonk. They will discuss food, art, but never sex.

Italians will turn up one hour late, with half their “tribe” following.

Greeks  love to pretend they are Italians, and will arrive even later.

Americans  men talk dollars, their wives about their shrink and their diet.

Germans don’t do small talk. They stick to sports and politics.

As for the English, they go on and on about the weather! Men discuss sports and cars, women, where to buy the latest discounted fashion.

and no Brexit or Donald talk please!

Dinner Parties – The Guests