Is Anyone Coming to Dinner?
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing
Much has been said during
the ongoing economic crisis about increased dining-in and home cooking
for families. But there is a whole other opportunity for retailers to promote
ingredients and recipes – the fine art of entertaining. Sadly for some,
albeit gladly for others, eating at home with friends is becoming increasingly
casual, at least in the U.K. According to an article in The Daily Telegraph,
a recent study shows formal dinner parties are a dying tradition.
Harry Witchel, of the University of Sussex, apparently found, “Dinner parties
are no longer the formal affairs that we associate with the aspirational
middle classes or TV characters.” Instead, he has identified significant
changes in both behavior and attitude with “a move away from the days of
dressing up for dinner, laying the table with an arsenal of cutlery or
waiting for the host to pour the wine – instead diners are increasingly
favouring a more relaxed dress code, with guests serving themselves at
In a less formal response
to the study, another Telegraph piece welcomed the supposed trend.
Depicted as a “middle-class excuse for preening displays of one-upmanship
and pretension, from the menu and place settings to the guest list,” its
demise is a source of relief for some.
“Too much of our lives
has been wasted twiddling napkins, negotiating ranks of cutlery, and trying
to guess which one is the water glass,” wrote columnist Liz Hunt.
she said, dinners have “become a jollier and more intimate affair for friends
and family, rather than for business contacts, colleagues and stellar guests
whom one wants to flaunt” and would prefer not to “endure.”
Some of the
conclusions expressed by Dr. Witchel, described as “a social behaviour
the possibility of a shift to American-style potluck suppers, which would
be a novelty over here. This may be contradicted, though, by the popularity
of a show called Come Dine With Me in which four people take turns hosting
dinner parties in an attempt to win prize money. Either way, dining in
and sharing a meal at home is enjoying an upsurge with myriad possibilities
for hosts, hostesses and those selling the chosen component parts.
Questions: What appeal, if any, does the dinner party hold in the
U.S.? Should retailers and brands be doing more to revive formal
dining? Is casual dining with friends becoming a bigger opportunity
than formal dining ever was?
- Traditional formal dinner party is
dying, says study – The Daily Telegraph
- The dinner party’s over – what a relief!
– The Daily Telegraph