The approach of colder months can only mean one thing (no, not Christmas)… it’s officially dinner party season. From intimate gatherings, to grand three-course affairs, staying in with friends old and new is more appealing than ever at this time of year. So whether you’re flooded with invites already, or simply want to impress on a special occasion, we’ve teamed up with the entertaining experts at Grey Goose to bring you SL’s official etiquette guide for dinner party guests…
WHEN IT COMES TO… The Invite
First things first, courteous guests know to RSVP as soon as they can. While you may assume your BFF knows your presence is a given, or think your old co-worker invited you just to be polite, it’s always worth letting someone know if you’ll be coming or not.
This is also the ideal time to make your hosts aware of any dietary requirements – it’s no use springing your mushroom allergy on someone when they’ve just spent five hours making beef bourguignon. And if you want to be particularly perfect, you could even offer to bring your own ‘version’ of a dish you can’t eat to save them extra cooking effort.
WHEN IT COMES TO… Bringing A Bottle
There’s that unwritten rule with dinner parties. If you fail to do your part – fail to Bring. A. Bottle. – you might as well forever relegate yourself to social purgatory and have to drink Karen’s vaguely warm Chilean Chardonnay all evening long, still dusty from the back of the cupboard, because you didn’t bring a bottle and no one else is sharing theirs.
Alternatively, you could Bring A Bottle but deviate from the traditional bottle of white or red with a spirit instead. We love the idea of taking Grey Goose vodka for a cocktail-making session or unique drink and dish pairings – why not reinvent the third course with a Grey Goose L'Espresso Martini, or try a sparkling Le Fizz with canapés? When it comes to vodka, top shelf is a must, and Grey Goose has a truly smooth taste (it's produced in France's famous Cognac region and made with pure spring water).
The Espresso Martini gift box (exclusive to Harvey Nichols) is a serious showstopper, so prepare to be your host's new fave. And if you really want to go all-out? Book in for Grey Goose's just-launched Cocktail Concierge service – a bartender, complete with glassware and ingredients, will arrive at your home and proceed to whip up rounds of cocktails for up to 30 people.
WHEN IT COMES TO… Dinner Party Chat
Keep it positive. That means no complaining about Geoff from accounts, your rocketing rent, or how the new London buses don’t have any windows and are essentially now just a huge metal hot box of sauna-like hell. We’ve all been stuck next to the negi person at a dinner party, don’t let that be you. Be positive about the food too, even if you hate it.
If you’re one of those people (read: sane, normal people) who find awkward lapses in small talk a form of physical torture, come armed with stories and anecdotes to regale other guests with. If you’re stuck for fun facts to reel off, this podcast is particularly useful, and pre-making a ‘dinner party playlist’ on Spotify is a must – suggest putting it on in the background if the conversation ends up drier than the bourguignon.
WHEN IT COMES TO… Making Your Exit
Knowing when to leave is an important skill to master. As soon as the host starts talking about how early they have to get up in the morning, that’s your cue. Plan your route home in advance too, so you don’t miss the last train and have to stay on their sofa.
On the other hand, if you want to leave and the party’s showing no signs of winding down, try softening the blow by making your excuses and offering to do the washing up before you go. If your host is at all a decent person, they won’t take you up on the offer.
WHEN IT COMES TO… Saying Thank You
Sending thank-you cards is in serious danger of becoming a lost art. Along with a thank-you text on the night, there’s something to be said about receiving a physical memento from people who like you enough to pretend they enjoyed your cooking.
If you didn’t take flowers on the night, sending a bunch is a thoughtful extra touch – there are plenty of ‘letterbox’ flower options that can be delivered without requiring your host to be home (or full-on embarrassing them at the office).
Drinkaware: please sip responsibly