We collaborated with food historian Dr Annie Gray, 2,000 of the great British public and influencers from the world of food, Aimee Twigger, Anna Barnett and The Meringue Girls, to produce a report on The Art of Entertaining.

We found that the way we host has changed quite dramatically; gone are the days of the traditional dinner party, with a standard three courses, dished up onto ‘guest plates’. It seems that us Brits have torn up the entertaining rulebook, giving us a number of different and much more informal set ups, reflective of the way we live today.

With only a third of people in the UK saying they still lay a traditional table setting for dinner parties and only 25% opting for a full three courses, we’re left with the vast majority doing things a little differently. The remaining two thirds is made up of a number of emerging trends – these are the modern dinner party types we found:


    The tradition of meeting a future partner over the dining table is thriving.

    In the past, dinners were used as good forums for controlled introductions, ideal for parents to cast a beady eye on potential spouses, assessing their manners, their intellect and their conversational sparkle.

    Today, 60% of us feel that dinner parties are much better environments for getting to know people than a bar. With 1 in 10 Londoners and Scots claiming to have met the love of their life at a dinner party, dinner party romance is a hot topic.


    A quarter of us are keeping things very casual, serving food to guests on laps or standing up.

    Denby has seen a dramatic rise in bowl sales with an increase of 40% in 2015 against 9% for dinner plates, reflecting the trend for serving bowl food at dinner parties.


    33% of 24-45 year olds are serving one pot dishes at dinner parties – hearty dishes made for sharing, often served with nothing but good bread on the side for friends to tear, dip and share.


    With some of the UK’s hottest restaurants in recent times (Duck & Waffle, Polpo, Spuntino, Barrafina) opting to serve small sharing plates over the traditional a-la-carte menu, it’s no wonder this trend is starting to filter through into home entertaining – almost 20% of 24-45 year olds are dishing up small but plentiful plates to guests.

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