Although you may be spending the night in, a recent survey has revealed that inviting your friends round for dinner in Swindon now costs a tasty £300 a month.
With shows such as Come Dine With Me, Masterchef and Dinner Date all setting the bar so high, the pressure is on dinner party hosts to create ‘wow’ moments like never before. According to research from Eisberg Alcohol Free Wine, this now means being prepared to spend up to £100 three times a month to entertain guests with food and drinks in your home. But is it worth it? Dining in or out these days can often be like asking yourself how to win at roulette.
Swindon guests have an expectation of entertainment and fine dining wherever they go, according to one in three of the 1,000 people surveyed.
Those between 25 and 34 years old are the most likely to fall into this habit, with half expecting to be wowed, compared to one in seven of the over 55s.
The elaborate dishes served up by hosts keen to make an over the top impression include rack of lamb (16 per cent); beef wellington (16 per cent); lobster (12 per cent); duck (10 per cent), venison (six per cent) and rabbit (four per cent).
Hosts from Swindon regularly spend £52 per guest, compared to Cardiff where the average is a much more modest £40 all in.
Catering for every dietary requirement is also now considered the norm, with one in two saying they always check in advance if their guests have any allergies or intolerances. Making sure every course and every drink has an ‘alternative’ is also important for two in three people.
- 50 per cent ask about vegetarian/vegan
- 44 per cent check for gluten free
- 28.6 per cent check for alcohol free
Sandi Mann, Senior Psychology Lecturer at the University of Central Lancashire, said: “The expectations on a host used to extend no further than opening a bottle of wine and getting some crisps and nuts out when friends came over.
“However, those days are long gone. Come Dine With Me started the trend for event dinner parties where every course has to wow and as a result, the planning and cost involved in being a host has sky-rocketed.
“People feel under enormous social pressure these days to out dinner party everyone else - or at least to maintain the high standards. Hosts can feel that if they don’t hit that wow factor then they will be judged for not being accomplished enough and, in today’s world of social validation when we compare ourselves with others to check that we are up to scratch, no one wants to feel they are not good enough.”
Just as every food course needs to have a wow factor, the same goes for drinking at dinner parties in 2018. Whether alcoholic or non-alcoholic, 36 per cent of hosts admit to creating bespoke cocktails for their event, with a further seven in 10 making alcohol free alternatives.
The most popular cocktails to serve up to impress are a margarita, mojito, cosmo and pornstar martini.
Being the designated driver is still the most common reason for not having a drink at a party, with more men (35 per cent) than women (31 per cent) sticking to alcohol free for that reason.
The wow factor doesn’t end with the dining, either as party hosts confess they even bring out ‘best’ items all over the house to create the perfect impression - favourites are table cloths (19 per cent); crystal glasses (15 per cent); scented candles (13 per cent); napkin rings (seven per cent) and posh hand wash in the bathroom (six per cent).
Andrew Turner, director of wine at Halewood Wines & Spirits, said: “Buying all the ingredients, preparing food and drinks from scratch and being an attentive host might be hard work - but it’s clearly what people expect.
“Just like the TV shows, people will tend to judge a host negatively if all the sparklers are not brought out on the night.
“Additionally, with so many people now choosing to cut out meat and alcohol from their diets, having alternatives that come with a wow factor is as important as keeping the rest of your guests fed and watered.
“Healthier lifestyles are now so mainstream that we know not being a meat eater or a drinker doesn’t mean you aren’t part of the occasion. The savvy host prepares for this.”