Am I taking the biscuits?

Dear Betsy

With coffee shops doing wonderful exciting drinks, and everyone baking, is it really enough to offer a plate of biscuits and a cup of builders’ tea for visitors? Is there something simple and exciting I could make? I don’t bake.

Yours, No-gella

Dear No-gella

Please don’t mention this to anyone, but to be perfectly honest with you, there is nothing I like more than a good old shop-bought biscuit. Custard creams, dunked in a hot cup of tea, are one of life’s under-rated delights. Ditto chocolate digestives – don’t you always forget how moreish they are till you have three one? And Jaffa cakes. Oooh… Jaffa cakes.

Similarly, there is nothing wrong with builders’ tea. A nation of builders can’t be wrong. Given how much builders tend to have clients over a barrel, if they thought skinny lattes were preferable to a good strong brew, they’d be asking for it and we’d be providing it, so the fact that they’re satisfied with Typhoo in a cup suggests it’s more than fine.

In short, your friends are visiting you because they love to see you, not because you offer free Wifi and have a convenient city centre loo. (Although if they get their laptops out as soon as they come in, and start complaining about your light jazz, you might want to examine this more carefully.) Why make them feel guilty when they open the door to find you floury and cross, or privately squirmy because they don’t make almond tuiles for guests? The basic rule of etiquette is to treat others how you’d like to be treated yourself, so if you’re happy with a M&S Extra-Chocolatey selection box or a packet of Rich Tea, then they will be too. See it as a chance to indulge yourself: if I’ve got guests coming round I can break out the really calorific Waitrose biscuits, safe in the knowledge that I can have one or two, then force the remainder on my guests before I scoff the lot.

Do make your tea in a teapot though. It’s the little things.



About Bettsy

Betsy Phillimore is the Principal of The Finishing Touches, a very modern finishing school based in Mayfair, London

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