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?
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.