The Death of Come Dine With Me: The Curse of the Dinner Party

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Brits claim hosting at home takes too much time and money, according to research conducted by Bookatable.

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Despite passing into the zeitgeist thanks to its colourful contestants, outrageous culinary creations and witty commentary, Come Dine With Me has failed to inspire a nation of perfect hosts. A study of over 2,000 UK adults conducted by Bookatable found that a whopping nine in ten people will avoid dinner parties at all costs, blaming a lack of time and money, as well as the risk of arguments with friends.

Cost proved to be a major factor in restricting our hospitable habits. At a time when supermarket prices are reaching record highs, one in four women and one in five men said that dinner parties are too expensive. Time and effort claim a close second, with nearly a quarter (24%) of people believing there’s too much work involved. A third of Londoners claim they simply don’t have time to fulfil the role of the perfect host and increasingly choosing to eat out.

Elsewhere, previous bad experiences were blamed for curbing our enthusiasm. Nearly a quarter (23%) of people based in the south of the UK say that previous dinner parties have led to an argument with a friend or loved one, whilst almost one in five people (19%) had been given food poisoning by dishes served at a dinner party. Some respondents had been left with more than dirty dishes at the end of an evening’s entertaining: 18% of those in the north of the country said that a dinner party had been the cause of damage to their furnishings, while 18% of Londoners know someone who got injured while cooking and 10% who had even caused a fire.

Joanna Juneja aged 31 from London recently had a bad experience playing hostess, ‘I was pressurised by friends into doing a dinner party at mine earlier this year and it was an absolute nightmare. Before people arrived, I ended up arguing with my husband because of being left to do all the cooking and tidying our flat. If the atmosphere wasn’t bad enough, the meal was a disaster – one guest was a vegan so ended up only being able to eat bread and vegetables. I wouldn’t do another dinner party again in a hurry.”

Celia Pronto, Vice President Marketing at Bookatable comments, “With the dining deals economy worth an estimated £135 million every week, eating out in the UK has never been more affordable. Many restaurants are pushing great discount offers this time of year, which makes it easier and cheaper for people to treat themselves to dinner out with friends. Our research has uncovered some of the horror stories associated with cooking at home, so it’s not surprising people are shying away from the pressures of being a dinner party host.”

According to the research, the British public are turning to eating out with friends as a way to unwind, often letting down their guard down perhaps too much. 91% of those surveyed think friends are more likely to get drunk in a restaurant and almost 75% believe they are less well behaved. 94% also claim to argue more when eating out with their partner than when eating at home.

Some companies are taking advantage of dinner party fiascos, by providing home delivered, chef cooked dishes to those reluctant to cook themselves. Mary Lewis, Head Chef at The Mount Street Deli explains: "Since launching we've had lots of interest and orders from people wanting a dinner party without the hassle. People want to host more relaxed 'kitchen dinner parties' nowadays rather than a 3-course formal affair, so that the host can enjoy the evening with their guests as opposed to slaving away in the kitchen. Our best-selling dish is the shepherd's pie from The Ivy - it is a popular and iconic dish in the restaurant and great comfort food for home."

About Bookatable:

Bookatable is Europe's largest online restaurant booking website, operating in 9 different languages and across 19 countries. Bookatable enables visitors to make free, real-time restaurant reservations - quickly and easily, 24/7 with instant confirmation online or on your mobile.

Bookatable is owned by Livebookings Holdings Ltd, the leading global online reservation and marketing service for restaurants. Livebookings is the trusted choice of over 8,000 restaurants in 23 countries, delivering over one million diners every month, and growing, to the world's premier independent and chain restaurants.

Bookatable enables users to browse restaurants based on location, cuisine and price. Those requiring inspiration can use the interactive map, which shows the most popular restaurants in any particular area quickly and easily. Diners can also access great discounts and special deals for desirable yet affordable dining experiences.

Restaurant information available on Booktable includes the address, average price, photos, opening hours and a detailed description of what to expect from your experience. Bookatable includes honest and impartial consumer reviews and advice, so diners can be sure they are choosing the best option when they book.

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Sally Brown