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The question

I love having friends over for dinner and always go to great lengths to prepare a thoughtfully selected meal. But I wonder, if I have raved about a particular takeout spot to my friends, which they haven't tried, would it be impolite to have a dinner party and serve said takeout? With perhaps some homemade hors d'oeuvre and a made-from-scratch dessert?

The answer

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That wouldn't be impolite at all – it sounds like a fun night. At root, a dinner in your home is a chance to show your friends a good time. If you think you can accomplish that with a bucket of chicken, a gross of Tater Tots and a flat of Blue Ribbon, then by all means, give 'er. The key, though, is in matching the menu to the crowd, the occasion and the invitation. While such a menu might work for an impromptu Friday cinq-à-douze with the next-doors and their teens, you might try something slightly more aspirational, say, for that engagement/getting-to-know-you dinner with your first-born daughter's soon-to-be in-laws. The best policy: If you're planning something out-of-the-ordinary, tell your friends when you invite them. That way, if they object to takeout they can choose to stay home and iron doilies by themselves.

Follow food writer and restaurant columnist Chris Nuttall-Smith on Twitter: @cnutsmith. Have an entertaining dilemma? E-mail .

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