New Rules of
Staying In-In

Staying in in: not going ‘out-out’, but not just staying ‘in’ either

See your common etiquette queries and how our expert would tackle them

Stoves is rethinking the art of eating and celebrating the joy of not going out. Instead of settling for the ordinary, we’re encouraging people to turn their backs on take-aways, indulge their love of cooking, savour the planning and preparation of their own culinary masterpieces and go the extra mile for their guests and themselves.

From finding the best ingredients to trying challenging recipes and cooking techniques, it’s all about celebrating restaurant-quality cooking in the comfort of home with friends and family – not just staying ‘in’ but ‘staying in in’.

An image of food

Engineered for food, Stoves has been making clever kitchen appliances for almost 100 years. With true cooking benefits such as multifunction cooking and even self-cleaning ovens, our collection of built in ovens, hobs and range cookers help even the most ambitious night in become a triumph.

Going ‘out out’? We’d rather stay ‘in in’.

Our new research has revealed that ‘staying in in’ is the new going out with half of people preferring to stay in and cook for their friends rather than go out for meals. Indeed the average household throws at least one soiree a month and – meaning as many as 720 menus planned, tables carefully prepared, and meals cooked for our nearest and dearest in our adult lifetime. And with this new trend comes a new set of rules to live by…

We surveyed 1,500 people and asked them about the new rules of ‘staying in in’:

  • 42 percent agreed it’s crucial to have everything prepared for when guests arrive
  • 41 percent said you should always check in advance for guests’ allergies
  • A third said cancelling after you have invited people is a no-no
  • Almost one in five said they’d always offer a vegan option
  • One fifth said talking politics should be avoided at all costs
  • 18 percent said letting guests help with the cleaning up was a faux pas
  • One in ten recommended ending the night before midnight - nothing good happens after then!
  • Sitting guests boy / girl / boy / girl is out of favour with only seven percent of people saying they’d create their table plan this way
  • A laid back 14 percent said they’d expect guests to be fashionably late
  • And the same number said they’d take the time to create a custom playlist for their guests
  • One in ten would only post flattering pictures of their guests online, and 16 percent said posting photos of your own food wasn’t the done thing
  • Favourite meals to serve included show-stopping beef wellington, hand-made pasta and lobster thermidor
  • Vegan options included Middle Eastern meze such as grilled aubergine, falafel, seitan kebabs and steamed peppers

Ask our etiquette expert

So, with the ‘rules’ of the modern dinner party constantly evolving, how can you make sure your next kitchen supper is the talk of Twitter – in a good way? We’ve been working with etiquette expert Jo Bryant to answer your burning questions. Is it okay to send invites via Facebook, and how do you deal with guests who may have enjoyed themselves a bit too much? You've been busy submitting your questions, and the answers are in. See below for some common queries and how our etiquette expert would tackle them.

Q) I'm an adventurous cook and I know my favourite dishes aren't always to everyone's taste. Is it okay to ask them to step outside of their comfort zone, or should I play it safe?

A) A dinner party is the perfect time to push the boat out with daring and adventurous dishes that leave your guests amazed, however take into consideration who you're cooking for. Try to strike a compromise, where the main element of the meal is a statement crowd-pleaser that you know everyone will like, but introduce different flavours and lesser-known ideas into the side dishes and accompaniments.

Let guests help themselves, giving them flexibility on how experimental they want to be and how much they want to try. Your unusual cuisine will be a conversation starter – plus you get the chance to show off your unique cheffing skills!

Q) Is it ok to ask people to contribute food and drink if there are a lot of guests coming to a gathering?

A) Asking for contributions really depends on who and how many people you have invited.

For a group of guests the majority of whom you don't know very well, you should provide all of the food and drink yourself. For a large group of close friends, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for contributions. Be sensible, plan well and have the confidence to politely ask people what you would like them to bring. For example, you could ask a one friend to bring cheese, another to bring a salad and another to bring a pudding etc to avoid repetition.

It is worth pointing out, however, that as the host, you should provide the main element of the main course of the meal, and that contributions should just be accompaniments and extras.

Q) What should you do if the conversation turns political and people start falling out? Is it acceptable to provide guests with a list of topics to avoid?

A) Dinner parties are a combination of personalities, experiences and opinions – an exciting mix that can make or break an evening, especially after a few glasses of wine. Prescribing a list of banned topics of conversation would most likely cause surprise, awkwardness or, if your guests are particularly strong-willed, even provoke people into disobeying your wishes and sparking debate...

Instead, as a host, be on your mettle and steer the conversation from the outset to try avoid any divisive issues. Keep chat general: upcoming holidays, latest box-set binges etc. If you are very worried about fiery tempers, you can humorously set some rules at the table and – ensuring you keep your tone fun and jokey – announce that debating politics and religion, for example, is not allowed.

If things to start to get intense, you can then cheerfully and light-heartedly remind people that heated discussion is banned, and move things swiftly on to safer ground.

Q) I love having my friends round for a nice meal but there are one or two that always outstay their welcome. How can I subtly let them know that the evening is coming to a close without sounding a 'last orders' bell?

A) If you know you have invited some night owls round for dinner, you need to be prepared to compromise. Be realistic in the fact that you will have a later night than you may wish, but also try to tactfully manage their expectations from the outset.

It is wise to casually drop into conversation that things may wrap up earlier than they might expect. Provide a sensible and decent reason, for example that you have an early start in the morning or are tired from a busy week. Hopefully, at the end of the evening when other guests on their way, they will also follow suit.

If things are getting late, however, a good trick for getting guests to leave is to close the bar and stop opening bottles, along with dropping some not-so-subtle hints such as 'is that the time! I had no idea it was so late...' A more drastic action might be to offer to order them a taxi – but turning off the lights and heading up to bed is probably a step too far.

Q) What's the etiquette around seating couples and single people if your guests are a mix of both? If you're inviting all couples, should you split the couples up?

A) In Britain, couples traditionally sit separately at seated dinners, whether it is a dinner party or a wedding reception. Historically, the exception to this rule was that they could sit together if they were engaged or during their first year of marriage (as it was assumed that the woman would need her husband's support and guidance!), but it is safe to say that this idea is now out-dated!

So, when putting together the seating plan, it is still good form and usual to split couples up. However, consider carefully all of your guests, look at the different personalities at play and aim to strike a balance: mix quiet with loud, introverts with extroverts and the socially confident with the shy ones.

Think about who would get on well, who have something in common and even try some surreptitious matchmaking... As a host, you want the evening to be social and convivial, and a well-designed seating plan is a key element to success.