Is the Dinner Party Dead?

From my earliest memory, Mum would throw dinner parties. We had a formal dining room that was never used apart from her dinner parties. Mum would spent all day making Beef Wellington and Potato Dauphine in between polishing silver and goblets. The “good” cutlery was used and the records were lined up in order of preferred play. Mum would light the long, tapered candles on the table before racing off to get herself presentable.

When the guests arrived everyone played nice until the fifth bottle of lambrusco was cracked and more often than not, they ended up in the pool.


I believe these glory days of sipping punch while listening to Englebert Humperdinck are well and truly behind us. I mean, who has a formal dining room these days?

I bring this up as there was a rather lively conversation on the WoogsWorld Facebook page recently about entertaining. (What do you mean you are not following that page? That’s where all the good stuff goes down. Click here to join).

The dilemma?

My husband and I have what I think is a wide group of friends. We both enjoy entertaining and most weeks host dinner parties with a few friends and at least 1-2 times a year host larger parties with up to 100 friends. I also organise during the school term lunches with mums from schools, coffee dates etc.

However I have begun to realise over the past few years that very few of the friends every reciprocate and invite us over.  Is this normal?

I think there is so much pressure to be perfect that a whole heap of us break out in hives at the thought of trying to impress people with our ability to “entertain”. I think shows like Masterchef are to blame, as we have all become well to aware of what we are serving up to other people. That and fucking pinterest.  I have several friends (Kracker, BabyMac, Caro and Mrs. Goodman to name but a few) who can throw together a gathering and make it look so easy, but these are natural born hostesses. And most people are not.

Here at the house of Woog, we abide by the old rule of dust off the barbie, plonk yourself down, blow the top off a few frothies and whack on ye olde iTunes. Paper napkins? Here’s a stack! Can you grab a bag of ice for the esky darl? Our “dining room” is the car port of our modest 1920’s art deco brick bungalow. If you need to use the facilities, we even have an outdoor thunder box for your convenience! I cannot recall ever hosting a proper dinner party without a million kids running around. I do not own a gravy boat (as I do not know how to make gravy). Our salt and pepper shakers are the ones that you buy from Woolworths.

Now I know that the old school amoung us might disagree, but I do think the traditional dinner party is ovah.

But back to the dilemma that my dear reader has. Personally, I tend not to keep track of these things and more often than not invitations around these parts are issued via text messages on the day of the event.

Hi Guys! Let us know if you are free for dinner tonight at our place. From 6pm. POO EMOJI.

When it comes to entertaining at your place, what is your style?

Do you dust off the fondue set or clean up the BBQ?

  • Jackie

    We had a dinner party a couple of weeks ago, I cleaned the house, got out the vintage china, polished the glasses, however dinner did consist of a couple of chooks on the weber, but there was a potato Dauphine & pudding. It was a fun night, guests got ubers home at about 1am. Living in Adelaide the dinner party is still a big thing.

    • That does sound like a fun night Jackie. I am impressed you managed to stay up till 1am! xx

  • Heidi D

    We live in a granny flat the size of a shoebox so having people over doesn’t work very well, no real space to put anyone unless we all want to stand. Back when we were first married we were in a unit that was bigger than this place & we invited a few people around for a pot luck dinner. Everyone brought something to share, very casual. Since then we have hosted the family Christmas once when we were in a bigger house but apparently I didn’t have the right serving spoons & it was all a bit stressful for mum so we didn’t offer again. We have had a couple of people at a time over a few times but I don’t really enjoy organising anything too formal & at the moment don’t have the space to do anything really

    • Didn’t have the right serving spoons? HOW VERY DARE YOU HEIDI!

  • We are trying to bring it back with a few close friends, but we have so many bloody kids that it always ends up mayhem. I think one reason the dinner party is dying is because we don’t leave kids at home unsupervised (or with the 12 year old neighbour) anymore. Who has the money or energy to organise a qualified, educated, police checked, CPR certified carer for the snowflakes? Not me. Backyard barbies all the way!

  • Donna

    Love a dinner party. Used to host heaps before children. Now just Xmas, Easter, Father’s Day and birthdays. Friends get a barbie, one step above the Bunnings sausage. I did inherit a three tier crystal cake stand and a punch bowl. Love to be able too pull those out one day.

  • tcormack

    Big dinner party people here in Townsville, we entertain all the time. Clients and friends and big family dinners. Last house we had an indoor dining table that sat 12. The house we are in now has a huge deck so we entertain outside. If more then 8 or 10 people we bring trellis tables and folding chairs into the combined lounge and library, straight through the middle of the room. We wack on white table clothes and the air conditioner and have a feast with up to 20 people. If we have a big crowd and its not too hot, we set up the trellis tables outside on the downstairs paved area and even power up big industrial fans, its Townsville North QLD after all. One year we hired round tables with chairs for a combined birthday party we hosted on the front lawn. A friend jokingly asked what the dress code was and for a laugh we said formal. That night we had ball gown and tux wearing guests out in the front yard giving the neighbours red carpet entertainment. We love to cook and so do many of our friends so we love to entertain.

  • FunMumX3

    Your photo reminds me of this site which is (thankfully) still in existence on the internet after all these years. Be warned, you will wee a bit laughing.

    • Kate in Melbourne, Australia

      OMG, WEEPING with laughter! She has a terrific turn of phrase. Very, very funny.

  • Kate in Melbourne, Australia

    I love to throw a dinner party! And to be invited to one. I have a small number of friends who reciprocate, and it’s always a pleasure to attend.

    A recent one we went to was thrown by two dear gay friends (happily married in the British embassy a few years back due to English heritage) who have a fondness for Victorian furniture, a separate diningvroom with candelabra, and a diverse group of interesting friends. Some of whom are move in well connected circles and are happy to goss about it… such fun! Afterwards my husband happily observed that he was the only straight man at the table of eight. I was one of only two women at the table, and seated next to the other one. Mind you, she is my mortal enemy because of a contretemps over a man 24 YEARS AGO! But mine hosts were unaware. We managed to be polite through a thin veil of frost… I’ve told my husband about this woman at other parties but he (of course) forgot and started the evening being charming to her! I had to hiss at him later to stop being so nice (his fatal flaw and greatest strength). Hilarious!!

    They are a lot of work but I love throwing them. Good food, good wine, mood music, candlelight, beloved friends (hopefully!)… what’s not to love! Plus, as hosts people often bring you wine, flowers and chocolates!

  • Cate Lawrence

    I love cooking and having people around for dinner. We have no kids and none of our friends have kids bar a couple with teenagers, which makes it easier. But I tire easily and i find the biggest challenge can be getting people to go home when i want to go to bed!