Do people make fun of fondue anymore? Really?
I don't think so. Most people have finally realized the truth of fondue: It's cheese melted in wine! If people want to shun it, fine: more cheese melted in wine for me!
Also, there is the social aspect of fondue. It's great for a party because it feeds a fairly large number of people (I'd say up to a dozen, comfortably), and it's a very social way of eating. For a three-course fondue meal (hot oil, cheese, and dessert) you can easily spend an hour or more hanging out at the table.
I've pretty much been a fondue fan my entire life, and was making fondue from my mom's fondue book from the 70's. So I've never thought fondue to be out of vogue. But here's my advice if you are throwing a fondue party.
1. Skip the hot oil fondue. Stick with cheese and chocolate. Deep-fried pieces of lobster and fillet might sound good, but you've got a lot of other issues to watch out for--like splattering oil, and raw meat which can cause cross-contamination. Also, if you really want to make the most of your hot oil fondue experience, you need to make lots of complex sauces and batters. It's a lot of work for a small reward, in my opinion. Besides, you can do lobster and filet in many other ways that aren't nearly as time-consuming.
2. Don't overdo it on the dippers or the fondues. Have maybe two or three dippers for each fondue. Even if you're serving a crowd, have only two cheese fondues, and two chocolate fondues, at most.
3. Buy most of your ingredients, vegetables especially, pre-cut, or in bite-sized portions. Most grocery stores have bags of pre-cut, pre-washed vegetables, and baby carrots are the perfect size to dip into cheese. You want to do as little prep as possible for the fondue.
4. Prep your ingredients before guests arrive, or ask them to help. Most everything in fondue can be prepared in advance, and then you combine it all right before you want to eat. Even if your guests aren't terribly handy in a kitchen, most people can chop things into large chunks.
5. Consider doing a non-traditional fondue. Traditional fondue uses swiss cheese and sauternes (a white wine). Most of my friends aren't fond of swiss. So our go-to fondue is cheddar based, and uses beer or hard cider as the alcohol. For dessert, a white chocolate or chocolate-raspberry fondue can be very nice.
6. Electric fondue pots are better. For cheese fondue especially, you need precise heat control. You can get away with a sterno fondue set for chocolate fondue, but you may need to blow out the flame if it gets too hot.
7. Borrow the fondue pots. If you don't have a fondue pot, don't go out and buy one right away. Almost everyone married from 1972 onward recieved a fondue pot as a wedding gift. And, sadly, they probably haven't used it since 1973. So ask your parents, aunt, or friends if you can borrow their electric fondue pot for the occasion.