If you can’t say anything nice – well, what do you say?

19th August 2015

You’re leaving the event and know you have to track down your host to say thank you and goodbye.  But you are holding back a bit while you think about getting the balance right between politeness and not perjuring yourself.  It was one of those dos with unremarkable – maybe even dreadful – food served on paper plates in a venue that’s either too hot or freezing and a lacklustre atmosphere.  So what to say?

It’s not too tricky if there are no direct questions.  If you can exit smoothly with a straightforward: “Thanks very much for the invite, lovely to see you”, you’re home and dry with moral compass and civil niceties well-served.  A wave from your host and you’re off.  But when they say:  “Did you enjoy the chicken?” and the truthful answer is: “Not to eat, but it could have made a good stand in for a rounders ball”, it takes a quick tact check to make sure friendship or professional contact don’t take a nosedive.   Double-edged replies along the lines of:  “It was extraordinary, never had anything like it”, won’t fool everyone.  You could get away with: “I love chicken, my favourite, always a good choice”.  You could lie, it is permissible in some circumstances and these might be those circumstances.

In order not to be that host, the one with guests piling out early desperately looking for sustenance, a few rules will help.

1.  No plastic cups, no paper plates unless the oldest guest is under 10.  Hire glasses and plates if you don’t have enough and let someone else do the washing up.
2.  Get the temperature about right.  Freezing or boiling is a party-killer.
3.  If you budget is limited, stick to simple and good – a great cheeseboard and fruit is honestly better than 3 inedible courses.  Soup is really cost-effective and looks great served imaginatively.
4.  Ice.  Cold drinks need to be served cold.  If you’re short of fridge space, hire some chiller bins and an ice/water mix will sort that out.

Then get ready to have a good time.  Always tricky as a host, but if you do, your guests will too.