Rent a Dinner

On the road to adulting, we’ve heard that Millennials, or Gen Z or whoever, want to rent things, have “experiences” and not own stuff. Recently there have been a couple of articles about the return to having people over for dinner and if your “hosting game might be feeling a little rusty” you can now rent tablescapes (ok boomer, you know it as tablesettings). Yes, they exist, and it will cost you.

The irony of it is that we’re not talking about having a big dinner party (where you might need to rent dishes etc.) but just a few friends over for a meal. Maybe I’m a terrible hostess, and no one will tell me, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about how I’ve laid a table.

Like Rent the Runway for clothes, you can now rent everything you need for a dinner party except the actual food. But be careful what you wish for…

A company called Social Studies has “styled rental looks,” including a collection called NSFW (Not Suitable For Work) which includes a dinner plate with a photo of someone’s derriere with a 2 of spades sticking out of it. Not to be a prude, but what do you serve on a butt plate? Sausage and peppers? Something that will cover it until the photo is revealed? This will set you back $52 per person plus $30 shipping for butt plates, floral plates, a very unsexy table runner, but maybe the black napkins can double as blindfolds.

If you feel like experiencing the South of France for $42 a head there’s a Provence kit where “Timeless elegance meets natural refinement for every celebration.” “A subtle mix of marbleized melamine and white ceramic plates is echoed by the gray and white linen napkins and warmed by white-dipped gold flatware. Tea lights flicker from within matte porcelain lanterns, casting a glow on rosy agate coasters. Dress up. Light the candles: It’s going to be a very special night.” Bien sûr, melamine (plastic) plates and agate coasters just scream Provence to me (but hey, I’ve been to Provence). If you’re not opposed to owning things, a set of 4 melamine plates with a “Provençal” look could be yours for under $20 at Target. Just saying.

Social Studies does have a retail section, where you can purchase a set of placemats that look suspiciously to me like vinyl records without covers. $40 will get you a set of 4. Album covers not included—maybe you could DIY and make a table runner with some…

It must be that their ideal client is smoking a lot of weed. How else to explain the $695 plastic tabletop lighter that looks like a sandwich with American cheese, lettuce and tomato?

Sadly, if you want food to go with your rent-a-tablescape, you’re going to have to purchase it and you might even have to cook it. But Goldbelly does have a large selection of sausages.

When you want to pack everything up and call it an evening, just whip out that guest book that Food and Wine suggests you A) own just for fun, B) pass around and C) don’t require that the guest “write anything particularly meaningful” in it—kind of like this post.


The photos are from Stencil with the exception of the NSFW setting which is from the Social Studies website. Didn’t have any nude plates to photograph…



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