Plan A Progressive Holiday Dinner Party


holidaydinner1The holidays conventionally suggest entertaining, which can sometimes translate into a distressing burden. This year, ease the angst of entertaining and assemble a crew of your closest couple friends for a progressive dinner. A trendy variant on a potluck dinner, this safari supper divvies up the duty and relieves the pressure of entertaining. Rather than guests bringing food to your home, this is a traveling party where each successive course is eaten at a different host’s house. The guests progress from house to house en masse for each course. Largely popular in the 1950s, progressive dinners declined in the 80s and 90s when disposable income was common and catered affairs were all the rage. Reemerging as a cutting-edge, low-cost entertaining option in today’s economic climate, we’ve got the inside scoop on planning your very own safari-style supper.

A progressive dinner is a nice way to share the spirit of the holidays with a group of friends. It can double as a gift exchange, which can be the experience of the dinner itself, or a collective showering of gifts among friends at each host’s house. When taking pencil to paper to plan your progressive meal, decide what kind of event you want to have: a laissez-faire occasion, a family fun feast where
kids are king, a formal affair in which dusting off the china is required, a decadent desserts only delight, or a themed cuisine evening (Italian, Mexican, classic comfort food, etc.).

Determining your fellow hosts will in large part be based on the chosen direction of your progressive dinner party. Let’s face it – we all have situation-specific friends that we love dearly for the niche in which they fulfill. We have our kid-friendly couples, our let’s get our party on cohorts, our dinner and a movie companions, our…well, you get the idea. It’s important to consider cohosts that fit the focus of your dinner. Typically, 3-5 hosts work best. Hire a designated driver to move everyone from house to house if need be. Collectively compile a guest list of folks to invite.

A traditional layout looks like this: Host 1 serves hors d’ oeuvres and perhaps a signature cocktail. Host 2 serves a first course of soup or salad. Host 3 serves the main course with sides, perhaps paired with wine. Host 4 serves dessert, or perhaps a tasting menu of a variety of desserts. Host 5 offers an array of after-dinner drinks and specialty coffees or espresso. Consider the talents, preferences, and home layout of each host when designating courses.

Schedule the stops and stick to it. Allow a 10-minute “head start” for the succeeding hosts to depart the current host’s house. Hosts should pre-set tables and have décor in full glory prior to the start of the evening, and most importantly, make their courses ahead of time leaving only finishing touches upon arrival. Remember, progressives are about movement and participation with the focus on friends, food, and fun, so get creative with your crew and come up with unique ways to spice up the night.   Written By Heather Reagan