But standards have changed so much that serving takeaway food at a dinner party is now officially considered acceptable.
Phoning for a Chinese meal, curry or pizza is no longer simply the preserve of ordinary families but is catching on amongst the higher-echelons of society too.
However, the latest advice from Debrett’s, which has been the social authority on etiquette for almost 250 years, comes with one condition.
Anyone too busy to cook or surprised by the arrival of unexpected guests must always serve food on china plates – and that the plates have been warmed up.
The new guidance appears in the forthcoming Debrett’s Guide to Entertaining Etiquette and represents a major concession to custom and practice in ‘polite society.’ Another faux pas that remains out-of-order is any attempt to pass off takeaway food as your own and asking guests to pay anything is also frowned upon by the Debrett’s authors.
Johnny Roxburgh, a party planner at society caterers The Admirable Crichton, said serving takeaways to guests allowed hosts to focus on other duties to make the event go well.
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