Flora Watkins

The dos and don’ts of hosting friends

  • From Spectator Life

According to the Yale sociologist, Professor Nicholas Christakis, we are on the verge of a second Roaring Twenties. Just as the 1918 flu pandemic ushered in an era of excess, so too will Covid, as people ‘relentlessly seek out social interactions’. This could take the form, he believes, of lavish spending and ‘sexual licentiousness’. Or at the very least, changing out of the bottom half of our pyjamas. 

Under the next relaxation of lockdown restrictions on 16 May, groups of six will be able to meet indoors — prompting many a wag to tweet that they’ll need to start finding excuses to stay in again. After more than a year without normal social interaction, in which so much has changed, having friends over is fraught with difficulties. What have we got to talk about, other than box sets and weight gain? How much physical contact is acceptable? Will a peck on the cheek be greeted with screams? We could do with a reminder of even the most basic social niceties (one friend who’s just held a dinner party in her garden texts to say that she had to stop and think hard about how to lay a table). So here’s how we ease ourselves back in… 

Don’t overdo it 

Plenty of people have spent lockdown dreaming of decadent, Jay Gatsby-style parties, which require several servants ‘to toil all day with mops and scrubbing brushes and hammers and garden shears, repairing the ravages of the night before’. But dive in with the alacrity of Oliver Reed at a free bar and you risk going big — and going home. Post-lockdown, our internal wine sponges may not be as good as they were pre-isolation. The same goes if you’re the host. Over-excitement combined with the desire to have a memorable evening risk creating Beverly from Abigail’s Party — aggressively foisting Demis Roussos and cheesy-pineapple on your hapless guests.

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