Samuel Muston: Gin. Check. Carpaccio. Check. Santa’s little helpers. Check

I am not the type of person who, when throwing a Christmas party, thinks: “Who shall I get to do  the catering?”

It doesn’t really enter my mind, as I’ll bet it doesn’t enter yours. I’m mostly thinking of things in the run of: Where shall I put the cat? Are six bottles of gin enough? Is there sufficient loo roll? And where can the stragglers sleep when they are seeing dawn from the wrong end?

When I do think about food, it is usually just to confirm to myself that I will, as ever, follow the Nora Ephron School of drinks parties and put a can of nuts on the coffee table.

It is not that I wouldn’t like a chef, bartender and lots of waistcoat-wearing staff doing a minuet with the martinis; quite the opposite. Who wouldn’t want the luxury of pros turning up at your house with the flatbreads already baked, the beef carpaccio sliced and ready to serve, and all the alcohol you are going to need for those disastrously complicated cocktails you plan to attempt? Answer: not many.

The problem is, for most of us, it just ain’t going to happen unless we charge admission. And you don’t have to be Guy Pelly to know that “tenner please”, as you walk through the door is going to kill the festive spirit.

But then I agreed to host the food and features staff of The Independent for a Christmas party that quickly changed. A new vista opened in front of me. One in which it was possible, expected even, that a company would be entrusted with the task of providing all the glasses and ensuring my desk mates weren’t “exceptionally tipsy” an hour in. I was outsourcing my party – and I was quite enjoying it.

An hour before The Independent crew arrived, the Alexander and James “mixologists at home” team was already at work. In came the bartender, Matthew Soares from Cloud 23 at the Manchester Hilton, with the booze.

Then came the food, along with with two nice waiters who would ensure it wouldn’t all be eaten within 10 minutes. Mathew commanded operations in the kitchen like Eisenhower at D-Day. They were models of efficiency. No one got drunk on the toothsome “forgotten classic cocktails” in the first hour; the food lasted right through; I didn’t have to run to the Co-op to buy more mixer.

Playing at being a society host is not without its problems, however. Because when you’re not whirling around the lounge like a dervish making sure everyone has got white wine, I soon learnt you take on a much more exhausting role: conversationer-in-chief.

I found myself unwillingly approximating Truman Capote at his Black and White ball (if only he’d hosted it in Dalston too, we could have compared notes). I weaved around the room, trying to orchestrate absolutely everything, ensure the serve-and-volley of conversation never dipped. “Oh x, do you know such-and-such?” There was no excuse, nowhere to hide, I couldn’t even pop off to “get another bottle of wine”. 

And then there was the staff to think about, too. For most of us, the natural reaction to having strangers in the house is to be hospitable. So, without even thinking about it, I began to worry about them worrying about the party. Were they ok? Could I get them anything?

That base worry about getting enough gin for everyone was supplanted by a different, higher torment which never usually enters the head until the next day: Was everyone happy? Was the party a success?

Playing at being a social lion is fun, I soon concluded, but the roaring doesn’t half wear you out.

Packages from £2,000

Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Neil Warnock
football'New' manager for Crystal Palace
REX/Eye Candy
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Graduate Sales Executive / Junior Sales Exec

    £18k + Uncapped Commission (£60k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Sales Exe...

    Web Developer / Software Developer

    £25 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Web Developer / Software Developer is needed ...

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Day In a Page

    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
    On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

    On the road to nowhere

    A Routemaster trip to remember
    Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

    Hotel India

    Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
    10 best pencil cases

    Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

    Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
    Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

    Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

    Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
    Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

    Pete Jenson: A Different League

    Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
    This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

    The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

    Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Britain’s superstar ballerina

    Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    Berlin's Furrie invasion

    2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    ‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

    Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis