Nights out with your work colleagues or friends usually follow the exact same recipe: dinner at some place where you can only really have a good chat with the person sitting beside and opposite you before heading home or onto a bar.
It's a foolproof "nice" option, but I recently did something a bit different and absolutely LOVED it.
At Pinocchio Restaurant in Temple Bar not only do they do the full whirl of Italian dishes for dinner, they also do team cookery classes where you whip up your own meal while having a few drinks along the way.
Coming up to Christmas I reckoned it was the perfect time to force the rest of my lovely Lovin Media Group colleagues to some good ol' fashioned team bonding, so we booked in for a cookery challenge at Pinocchio.
The result? A night out that we're still chatting about.
It's hands on cooking your very own three course meal - from starter right through to dessert
The cookery challenge is €60 per person and includes a bruschetta antipasti while you're getting set up, a starter, main, dessert and one bottle of Italian wine for every four people.
Not bad for a private cookery lesson AND your full dinner (with leftovers!)
You get stuck into making the chocolate custard crostata first so that it can bake away while you cook
We split up into two teams of four and began the frantic challenge of seeing who would win the award of best chefs.
Our expert Italian teacher for the evening was Giuseppe, who had us all in stitches as he went around and made fun of our desperate attempts to roll out dough, while at the same time skilfully showing us the right way to do it.
A chocolate custard crostata was popped into the oven as we moved on to making our starter...
I put a Pi sign on my pie and NO it didn't win the best pie for some absolutely ludicrous* reason
*Completely fair because the other team had an outrageously great seaside pastry design
For starters we made Treccia, a plaited Italian bread stuffed with meats and cheese
Treccia (literally 'plait' in Italian) is a long snake of plaited dough that we stuffed with salami, mozzarella cheese, grilled courgettes and roast red peppers.
All hands were on deck to pound and roll the dough into shape and make sure the plaits were stretched over just right. Sipping away on some vino, it was just like having mates over in your house cooking up a storm together.
The main dish was the best: handmade pasta made the traditional way
For the tagliatelle dish we made our own pasta right from scratch - just egg, flour and water. I'm still shook that we did this ourselves.
You stretch the pasta out through a hand cranked pasta machine before rolling it onto a Chittara machine, which slices through the pasta sheet in an instant to make long fresh strings ready to be cooked by the real expert chefs in Pinocchio's kitchen.
The best bit about this is that you get to do all the fun stuff, while the chefs physically bake your savoury treats and cook your pasta so that it's guaranteed to taste delicious.
The two teams coming together to eat all the food we cooked was gas - everyone joking and comparing how theirs was better than the others.
Never mind the craic, this is quality food. Creamy carbonara pasta and a tomato Amatriciana pasta gave you the best of both worlds, and I already have plans to make the Treccia for family over Christmas.
We had so much grub left over which meant we were sorted for lunch the next day too, so everyone was even more thrilled with that, and Giuseppe sent us on the recipes for everything the next day.
If you've got a big group of mates or want to do something fun with your colleagues that doesn't involve heavy boozing, I can't recommend this enough.
They also do a variety of themed cooking classes that you can book into on your own too, if you fancy brushing up on your Italian cooking skills by your lonesome.
We left Pinocchio with full bellies and that lovely glow you feel when you've had a really great just wholesome night with good food and good company.
'Tis the season for catching up, and there's no better spot than this.