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A tribute to the unsung heroes of the dinner party

I recently wrote a post that basically outlined the easiest way to entertain on a Friday night after work. I sited my friend D’s way of coping as a great example of how to deal with weekday entertaining without losing your mind. The piece itself was generally well received. That is with the exception of D’s spouse, who pointed out that he had been instrumental in the success of the evening yet failed to rate a mention. This started me thinking about the role played by most non-cooking spouses and friends in the execution of the perfect dinner party on any night of the week.

When I first started entertaining in what I consider to be a grown up fashion, my spouse used to leave the house for the majority of the prep time. In his defense that was because I was quite manic. Having honed my entertaining skills over the years he now doesn’t feel the need to flee the premises. However he is still very much on call for any and all of the following:

1. Last minute trips to the store – No matter how organized I am there always seem s to be something that I forget and everyone I know who entertains says the same thing. To all spouses or friends who pick up all the bits we forget, I say thank you.

2. Table setting – My spouse typically does not do “pretty”, flowers, centerpieces etc, but the boy can get crockery, cutlery and glassware onto a table at record speed. To all spouses or friends who know where everything is and more importantly, where it goes on the table, I say thank you.

3. Drinks – Here’s a tip, when the drinks flow freely, it can make up for a multitude of sins if the meal is less than perfect. To all spouses or friends that keep glasses full and bottles chilled, I say thank you

4. Clean up – You know the feeling, when the last of your guests leave and you survey the scene of destruction that is your home, it’s good to know you won’t be tackling it alone. To all spouses or friends that understand that washing up requires more than just a running tap, I say thank you.

It is perfectly possible to entertain alone. But today I wanted to take time to salute the support staff of a dinner party, those who hover in the background while the chef receives all the accolades. We could entertain without you, but it would not be nearly as much fun.

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