Let’s Plan a Progressive Dinner Party

Do you hear the words “dinner party” and immediately think it’s going to be some boring or stuffy event? Do you have visions of food you’ve never heard of and probably will not like? Maybe some dinner parties are like that, but a progressive dinner party doesn’t have to be that way.

A progressive dinner party is a moving dinner that has you visiting several people’s homes for different courses of a meal. And it can be a lot of fun!

plan a progressive dinner planWhere to Start

While a progressive dinner is a lot less work and stress than a traditional party because all of your friends are going to help, it still requires some planning. Perhaps you can designate one person to take the lead or have a brief get-together to work out the details.

Start by recruiting your other co-hosts for the dinner. If you’re looking to expand your friend circle, reach out to some of your neighbors that you may not know very well. Or, stick with friends in your social group for your first progressive dinner.

Typically a progressive dinner has 6-10 people involved, but it can be as big or small as you are comfortable with.

Then you need to pick a theme. You can start simply by saying that all of the dishes for the night have to be of a certain cuisine – like Italian. Or, if there is a holiday coming up that could be your theme. Be creative!

Then assign your courses. Think about who would like to prepare appetizers, soup and/or salad, main course, and dessert.

Invitations should be sent out after all of the big decisions have been made. The invitation should include the name of each host, where they live and a telephone number in case people get lost. It should also include a time for each course so that guests know the schedule for the evening. And be sure to account for travel time if you’ll be driving or walking from home to home.

The Dinner Itself

You may want to consider setting a budget for the meal. Certain courses may prove to be more expensive than others, but perhaps you set up a rotating schedule to accommodate for this.

Be sure you have asked your group if anyone has food allergies or diet restrictions. This will help with menu planning for everyone.

Be sure to prepare as much in advance as you can. This will allow you to be able to enjoy the progressive dinner as a guest, too. Make sure you have drinks available for your guests when they arrive. Set the table if needed or set out appetizer plates and silverware.

When it comes to food, prepare things ahead. Choose appetizers that can be made ahead and warmed in the oven or choose those that can be served cold. A soup course could be held in a crockpot so it’s hot when everyone arrives. Main courses might be prepared in a crockpot or, if your oven has the capability, you can set a time to heat the main course while you are at appetizers.

Keep cleanup simple. Set the tone by helping with clean up at each place before moving on to the next home. A quick rinse of plates and placing the silverware and glasses by the sink can make things infinitely easier for each host when they return home.

Progressive dinners can be a lot of fun and you may find that your group makes it a regular part of the social calendar. Have you participated in a progressive dinner? How did it go? Did you have fun?

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