How to Plan a Progressive Dinner
January, 2011 · By Coryanne Ettiene
Winter brings colder, shorter days and also that hung over feeling caused by over stretching our holiday glee. The idea of hosting a dinner party or even a small cocktail party leaves even the most jovial of hosts reaching for the remote control, but with a fresh look at casual entertaining, January evenings do not need to be spent glued to the TV.
The progressive dinner is a winter favorite of mine because it carries little expense, requires very little planning and allows everyone involved to share in the hosting responsibilities. The concept for a progressive dinner is simple: You eat and drink your way from house to house of each person “attending” the dinner.
House A: Appetizers and cocktails are served.
House B: The entrée is served.
House C: The dessert (and optional digestifs) is served.
When planning your progressive party, be mindful of the following:
1. Keep an eye on location, trying to avoid spreading yourself across town. This party style works especially well for friends who live close to one another either in a neighborhood or an apartment building.
2. If driving is necessary, plan your transportation in advance by booking taxis or agreeing on a designated driver.
3. Try to keep to a schedule of one hour per course, with the lingering taking place at the last venue. Once you get off schedule, it is nearly impossible to get back on track, leaving all the subsequent courses paying the price.
4. There is no time to fuss about in the kitchen with this party, so be sure to set your menu around recipes that will not suffer if you are delayed in arriving for your next course, and that can be served upon arrival.
5. Set your table before you leave, as this will allow you to arrive ready for service.
6. The most challenging spot to host is the entrée, so be sure to assign this role to a motivated host.
7. Keep it relaxed, engaging and fun. The progressive dinner is casual entertaining at its best.