The dinner party market is booming, according to a survey published by fresh prepared food supplier Geest, with 62% of people in Britain inviting groups of friends over for meals.

Across the UK, over £400 million was spent on food for dinner parties in the last three months. However, 55% of hosts have come unstuck when it comes to entertaining.

Geest, which supplies major supermarkets with fresh prepared foods, questioned 1,000 people across the country about their dinner party experiences.

Among those who have experienced a dinner party disaster, the most common problem (33%) was underestimating the preparation time needed, meaning that dinner was served very late.

Guests, rather than the hosts, are to blame for the second most common calamity: more than one in five (22%) people have had their friends cancel at the last minute, or not turn up at all. Partners also cause problems - more than one in ten (13%) hosts have had guests arrive unannounced as their partner invited people over and forgot to tell the cook!

Women are only slightly more organised than men when it comes to entertaining: 51% per cent of women and 59% of men confessed to a dinner party faux pas.

London is the dinner party capital, with more than three quarters (77%) of those living in the city hosting dinner parties. Meanwhile, just over one in three (38%) people in the North East regularly socialise around the dining table.

Those in the South West are most likely to have a dinner party disaster (49%). They have the rudest guests (18% have had no-shows from guests) and the hosts are most likely to row with a partner, or with the friends that do make an appearance.

In contrast, just 8% of people in Wales have suffered a dinner party disaster. Those in the East Midlands may be best advised to have a snack before leaving the house as 70% of hosts in the region admit to having ruined the food.

"It's great that, at a time when Brits are under fire for not cooking meals or enjoying food, so many people are hosting dinner parties," said Adrian Pickett, head of marketing at Geest. "However, very few have hours to spend slaving over a hot stove, even when they are entertaining. Most people are looking for ways to enjoy dining with friends without spending a fortune or giving themselves too much stress. Being the host is not always plain sailing but there are things we can do to help make life easier."