Now that the global economy means that we can't afford to go out for dinner as much, the simple supper party may make a serious return. There's nothing like sitting around a table with a group of like-minded friends bemoaning the state of the world, the education system and the size of one's interest-only mortgage over a bowl of pasta and a bottle of plonk.
So, in the spirit of saving on hefty restaurant bills, we take a look at dining tables and chairs that will make you feel more like staying in and saving money. After all, it was only last year that one survey found that buyers would rather have a dining room than a conservatory.
Plage round table
Before you get all exercised about the cost of this, remember that you can just use the idea. Buy a cheaper Scandinavian round table from you know where and paint it. Or save up and have this fabulous coloured version. You can buy online or visit the Wharfside shops in London and Surrey. The stool is £480.
From £3,200 (www.wharfside.co.uk)
Petit Toi chair
This rather fabulous baroque-style chair has a special rubber coating so you can use it both indoors and outdoors. Yes, it is pricey, but there's no need to have a full set of six. Save up for one at each end of the table in either pink, black, blue or olive-green, and have chairs in a different style but a matching colour around the rest of the table.
£665 (0844 884 2340; www.dutch bydesign.com)
Dwell is expanding rapidly on the high street, as well as having a good online presence. If you hanker after classic modern design but can't afford the real thing, you can buy a version of it here. This curvy number is a copy of a Panton chair, and comes in black, red and white. It is surprisingly comfortable, which is why the style has endured. A Panton original costs around £100, so it's quite a saving.
£45 (0845 675 9090; www. dwell.co.uk)
Founded in 1995 by a pair of interior designers who couldn't find the furniture they wanted, the Dining Chair Company offers a wide range of bespoke and standard designs. Choose from wooden backed, leather or upholstered and then from dozens of shapes. It's not a cheap option, but as you are probably going to sit on your chairs up to three times a day for at least 10 years, if not more, you need something that will stand up to a good deal of wear.
From £532, excluding fabric (020-7259 0422; www.diningchair.co.uk)
Raft Furniture is a Camden-based company with an ethical manufacturing policy. It is one of only two companies in the world to have FSC certification that it sells only 100 per cent reclaimed teak – many others sell a mix of reclaimed and plantation. If a classic scrubbed pine table and chairs is your thing, this is the place to come. The chairs are made from reclaimed teak and would go beautifully with the company's refectory dining table for £1,295, which seats eight people. Whether you can afford to buy eight chairs – or even to feed eight people – is another matter.
£99 (020-7636 4554; www.raftfurniture.co.uk)
A highly affordable version of a classic dining-room chair. The Orb comes in five colours, including black, red and blue, and no one will suspect that it comes from MFI – unless they, too, have been doing some bargain-hunting.
From £39 for two chairs (0800 876 6990; www.mfi.co.uk)
M&S Maple Veneer
M&S has really ramped up its homewares, and this table-and- four-chair set, with its Arne Jacobsen feel, is excellent value, and ideal for a smaller kitchen. If you just want the four chairs, it's £89 – the white ones would look good around any style of table.
£149 (www. marksand spencer. com)
Despite its name, this isn't the classic Arne Jacobsen Butterfly chair. This one is made by Magis, an Italian company known for its sense of fun. Chose from a variety of colours and stack up the spare ones if space is short. A lively mix of colours a round a plain wooden table is a good way to add a touch of individuality and fun to a kitchen/diner. Alternatively, you could choose chairs that match the colour of the walls or cupboards.
Butterfly chair, £225 for two (0151 285 0975; www.findthatchair.com)