There are so many potential socials that you can take part in at university, but the most common seems to be some variant of going to a club. You go out, you get drunk, you get loose and you let everyone see your fun side (in theory, anyway) then the next morning you all chat about it and you become closer. It’s a tried and tested formula! Unfortunately for me however, whenever I get drunk I become an imbecile and I have a rather alarming tendency to spend more money than I actually have on drinks I don’t need. Generally speaking, upon inebriation, my IQ effectively equals my age. So I don’t know if you’re the same, but on occasion I quite like to show my friends that I do in fact possess more intelligence than a stick of celery. So this leads on to the second most common social in my experience: food socials…

The food social…

A less common social than going out to a club. The venue chosen is frequently a well-known place that everyone’s heard of (i.e. Hooters, Red’s, Peachy Keens) or the result of a google search. A massive table is booked well in advance giving the waiters hopes of huge tips! These are quickly dashed as they become aware that we’re students and are commonly wrestling with our overdrafts for dear life… small tips, I’m afraid, if any at all. We sit at the line of tables and glance at the menus. Now, a few people will look at the menu for a new dish that they’ve never had before while others will instantly go for the safest option and these are safe for a reason, that reason being that they are damn good! The issue I see is that these meals often aren’t that hard to make; you can look up a fairly quick recipe for that dish and make it yourself and it generally works out cheaper, especially if you make enough for guests.

My proposed case for why nights in should be more common is quite simple…

Now let’s get right into this one: I love having the occasional night in with friends, I think it has so much potential, especially regarding the members of sports teams and societies who perhaps aren’t that interested in getting zonked every week (such as the PhD students). You don’t even necessarily have to cook if you’re truly that opposed, you can simply get Netflix on the TV, get some sweets and crisps and let the conversation flow. However I do believe that providing a dinner is perhaps the best way to truly get to know the people that you study with because as soon as you put down a plate in front of them and get a couple (or more) glasses of wine down, the conversation just flows. People get more comfortable while eating dinner and this is the time during which you’ll see people’s true colours: their opinions, their humour, their ambitions, all that jazz and who cares if you aren’t a Michelin star chef with the world’s most prestigious repertoire of culinary delights! Just choose a simple recipe (a Bolognese, a cottage pie, perhaps) from the internet and serve that because your guests WILL appreciate it.  It’s homemade, it’s genuine and it’s got a bit of heart. Get your guests to contribute some wine or a dessert or just pitch in a couple quid for the ingredients and congratulations my friend: you are hosting your very own dinner party.

So for the larger societies and sports, I’m aware that having 20 or so people at your house to eat a homemade dinner prepared by yourself is about as exciting an idea as enthusiastically testing how sharp a knife happens to be with your hand but isn’t there a similar quandary regarding predrinks before a night out? Yes. And how does that get sorted out? In a large sports team, for example, for an organized pre’s, the team is split up into smaller and more manageable groups. The members are forced to meet new people in these small groups and they’re shuffled for each social. A similar deal could then be done for nights in, whether they be chilled Netflix nights or “come dine with me”-esque dinner parties. Brilliant, sorted, what more could you ask for? As long as you don’t poison your guests (which I’m sure you won’t) I guarantee you’ll be better friends as a result. And you’ll actually remember it because your brain won’t be swimming in paint-thinner generic brand vodka, which is to memory, what a ‘shart’ is to self-esteem.

Jake Tenn


Image from Flickr by Swamlnathan

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