Who would be at your fantasy dinner party?

I was at a great dinner party last week. Ok, it was two steps away from an actual dinner party – it was a group of us on Zoom, talking about who we’d have at a dinner party, but it was still great fun and very interesting.

Our basic rules were a) no-one had to set up, cook or clean unless the they wanted to b) the guests could be living or dead, real or fictional c) there would be at most 10 guests Although I love to cook for smaller numbers, my preference for a larger group would be to have someone else do the cooking and cleaning, so long as I got to be involved with the set up and could make creative favours. What options would you go for? Would you want to show off your culinary skills, organisational prowess or domestic superpowers?

The shortlist

Of course the usual eye-candy suspects were mentioned (we all have our favourites) before conversation went deeper and we started making our shortlists. Potential guests fell into a range of categories: childhood heroes, teenage idols, favourite authors / sportspeople / actors / musicians, beloved characters, scientists, entrepreneurs, leaders and influencers, philanthropists, activists and generally nice people (aka the Terry Wogan category). Many fell into more than one category. Who would be on your shortlist?

When we started to narrow the list further, we started to ask more questions about whether someone would make the cut: Is success or achievement enough? Is it ok to respect and admire someone but not want them on the guest list? Would some of the potential guests intimidate us? Dominate the dinner? Has anyone dropped off your list?

So who’s coming?

Looking at my final list I was able to see that it was made up of people who I felt brought the sorts of things I want my life to be filled with (and some weren’t bad to look at either) – love, laughter, fun, adventure, music, courage, nurturing, intelligence, strength, calmness, integrity, and the list goes on. I realised that I’m very fortunate to have friends and family who embody these things (although maybe not all of them at once), and that I can spend more time connecting with them. There are also books, podcasts, blogs, TV, music, radio, the internet etc where I can find all of these important things.

Similar to “you are what you eat”, the company you keep will have an impact – laughter and fun can lift your spirits, friendly competition can drive you forward, someone else’s courage may inspire you too, to name but a few. And the opposite is also true, where negativity can drain your energy, anger can cause you upset, jealousy can take the sheen off an achievement. What do you want to be surrounded by and how can you avoid what you do want to have? Who are the people you’d like to spend more time with (even if it’s by virtual means) and how else could you spend your time?

Why the company you keep is relevant for someone who is supporting a partner with mental health challenges

Someone recently described the time when their husband had been suffering from depression as like “a dementor from Harry Potter”, where the situation had drained all their energy. It can be emotionally and physically exhausting. While the person you love and are supporting may not be able to prevent their feelings and how they can impact you, you can consider the other people you surround yourself with – do they understand, support and uplift you? Great. Do you feel further worn down trying to explain, argue, justify? What can you do to minimise the impact?

When my other half was signed off work with stress, my life was turned upside down too. These blog posts are based on the things that helped me, the lessons I learnt the hard way and what I realise with the benefit of hindsight would have helped. I’ve collected some of the other key learning points and tips and made these available to download at

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