I'm a frustrated English teacher who wants to be a writer when she grows up.
Published June 12th 2012
A progressive dinner is a great idea for an inexpensive, low-stress social event for a group of friends. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves the whole group moving from one home to another, enjoying a different course at each location. With a group of three to four couples, each couple provides one course.
Beverages could be handled in a couple of ways. Either each host could be asked to provide the beverage most suited to the course he/she is providing OR you could ask guests to BYO, with each host providing tea, coffee and soft drinks.
It takes the pressure off one person or couple providing the whole meal; instead, any preparations- and costs- are shared. One person or couple is not cleaning up an entire three or four courses worth of dining utensils.
The cons: Every host must prepare his or her home for receiving guests. Every host must clean up his/her home afterwards, although, of course, this could be a pro as well, as there isn't as much to clean! It may be difficult for everyone to move on to the next home when the party is in full swing. The host for the next course needs to leave the present venue early enough to prepare the course for which he/she is responsible. (This is relatively easily overcome by careful selection of the fare: a slow-cooker would take care of this aspect for the main.)
Tips: The participants must live in relatively close proximity.
• Set your table prior to leaving for the party. That way, when it's your turn to provide the course, you walk into a house that is ready for guests.
• Select recipes that can be made ahead and simply require reheating or refrigerating
If you like the idea, you might like to organize themed progressive dinners- think Christmas in July, Halloween, or select a cuisine from another country.
Above all, have fun, and remember: the whole idea is for the evening to be low-cost and low-stress. Bon appetit!