Dinner party deception: five subtle ways to convince your useless friend that she’s helping

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Jenny absolutely killed it last week. Four courses, cocktails, the works. Everyone’s needs were catered for. And how did she get those gluten-free gluten bites to taste so gluten-y? She sits atop the throne of Dinner Party club…for now. Tell Jenny to keep that seat warm, it won’t be hers for long – it’s your turn to host. You’ve booked three days off work for adequate prep time. Ingredients bought. Invites sent.

But oh God. Oh God no. Out of stupid, reckless politeness you asked a friend to come over early and help out. She said yes. You’re not allowed to say “yes”! And it’s Lucy! She’s useless! And she’s outside! She could ruin everything for you! You need to make her think she’s helping while not allowing her to do anything at all. 

Hey Lucy, you could…


From a painstakingly curated playlist that you also control from your phone.


Not the actual drinks, obviously. Water jugs. Actually maybe fill them up yourself first, she’ll spill it. Oh God, she’s putting things in the water. Cucumber and mint…and lemon? Is she salting the water? Throw it away at your earliest convenience and insist that all guests partake in a dry fast. There will be no water.


Again, obviously not. Just make sure all the spoons are painfully a little skew whiff when you lay the table (I know, shh shh baby, it’s okay) and then ask Lucy to make sure everything looks straight. You may have to supervise her. Make sure all the pointy cutlery has a cork on the end.


Obviously not proper fire candles . In fact, hide all flammable things from Lucy. Fish out those spoooooky little fake electric tea lights from Halloween and get her to set those out. Tacky? Yes, uncharacteristically so. Chance of 3rd degree burns? Low. Phew.


She surely can’t mess this up. There are three bags of crisps, there are three bowls, all she has to do is…obviously not put the Twiglets in with anything else. Oh wonderful, prawn cocktail crisps and twiglets in the same fucking bowl. Aesthetically it’s like a crisp fever dream, taste wise it’s Marmite prawns. Or…maybe you could Spanish it a little bit…¡patatas fritas de gamba marmita! Lucy, you GENIUS.

Alex Nash

Alex is a 25-year-old comedy writer from Brighton who refers to himself in the third person to feel important. He is the writer for, and performs as one half of, comedy duo Yes Mama!. He is an NFTS grad, and is known the world over for his tiny eyes and his love of sleek, long, nervous looking dogs.