Meredith Etherington-Smith: Why the dinner party tradition has skipped a generation

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The Independent Online

There is nothing better than getting round a table with a few of your chums and having a lovely supper. It's not about matching china and perfect crystal, something young people have realised.

Even the manufacturers have caught on. Wedgwood now makes a lovely set of Jasper Conran dinnerware which looks like creamy pottery rather than china.

I went to a young dinner party recently where the guests had to bring their own chairs. There was none of this "Noah's Arky" seating of boy, girl, boy, girl. Everything is much more relaxed.

These dinner parties are a reaction against my generation, their parent's generation. When we were growing up in the Sixties we rebelled against our parents, and the way they had dinner parties.

We hated mahogany dining tables and candelabra and matching wedding-present china, and having dinner to impress Sir from the office.

So we didn't have dinner parties; we sat on beanbags and sucked everything through a straw. When the Sixties generation of women had children, they didn't want to be tied to the kitchen, and a lot of young people now were brought up on Marks and Spencer's ready meals, telly dinners and the like.

They don't remember their mothers cooking, and they react against that by reviving the dinner party.

They are not cooking their mothers' recipes, but their grandmothers', almost as if the dinner party had skipped a generation.

Despite this relaxed attitude, I noticed, when I was doing The Dinner Party Inspectors on Channel 4 that people still like to make an effort. They like to make the table look good, and to dress up. Maybe it's another reaction - they don't want to slop round in jeans all the time.

The only thing you really need for a good dinner party is lots of drink, liberally applied.

But don't start drinking before your guests arrive - and it is probably best not to serve them huge rum cocktails before they eat.

Finally, I can't think of a better place to get off with someone than a fabulous dinner party.

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