Q. When going out to dinner I’ve found some people will send everyone a list of the other guests so we can avoid the ‘What do you do?’ questions. I’ve now taken to doing it myself. I like this approach. However, when I asked a friend to tell me who my fellow guests would be at her dinner party, she became very angry and refused. As a result I missed talking to someone I really wanted to meet until we were putting out coats on to go. Is it very naff to provide pre-lists?
J.T., London W11
All guests would much rather know who else is coming, what they do and what the gossip is — but to circulate an advance list is a bit unsubtle and smacks of networking. Instead you can deliver the data chattily by tricking your guests into probing you about who will be present. Ring them up on the pretext of giving, for example, parking advice, to say their dogs will be welcome, or to enquire whether any real or imaginary food allergies are at play. ‘I can’t get through to Gerry Farrell at the moment — he’s coming. Do you happen to know if he’s allergic to anything?’ ‘Gerry’s coming! How exciting. Who else will be there, if you don’t mind my asking?’ Then the chatting can commence.
Q. I am worried that my twenty-something daughters are not meeting enough new men. They both live in London and have plenty of friends, including plenty of male friends. But these they have known all their lives — how can they meet new men who might hold romantic prospects? Neither works in an office.