Rather than hosting your friends for a traditional sit-down meal, try getting creative with a progressive dinner party. Whether you’re celebrating moving into a new apartment with a housewarming party or want to host a Galentine’s Day with your best buddies, there are plenty of progressive dinner party ideas you can try out. Read through our guide to learn what a progressive dinner party is and tips for hosting your own.
A progressive dinner party is an event where guests enjoy a multiple course meal, but each course is at a different destination. Progressive dinner parties are a fun way to split up the effort of hosting. Each host is in charge of only one part of the evening.
During a progressive dinner, one person hosts drinks and appetizers at their home and then the group transitions to someone else’s house for the first course, like soup or salad. When it’s time for the main course, the group progresses to the next house. The night will finish with dessert at the last person’s home.
Hosting a progressive dinner party will take some planning. If the logistics aren’t discussed ahead of time, you may spend too much time at the first home and not make it to the main course. To make sure your night is seamless and enjoyable for all, be sure to plan for the following:
The rights hosts are people who are willing to invite people into their homes. Unlike having a traditional dinner party, hosts will only have to prepare and clean up after one course. Ideally, these people will live in the same area so that it’s easy to travel between the homes.
A progressive dinner party is perfect for any group of people who are willing to try new things. Invite your close friends or acquaintances that you want to get to know better.
When inviting guests, it’s best not to invite too many people. Large groups are difficult to cook for and will make transitioning to the next home a challenge. The optimal number of people to invite is 10-12.
Progressive dinner parties are known to take up a lot of time. Plan on spending at least an hour for each course. If the hosts live far apart, you’ll want to account for travel time as well. It’s best to start in the afternoon so that you’re not sitting down to your main course at 10 p.m. (unless you want to embrace the European culture!).
Establish an itinerary with specific times for each stop to keep you on track. You may end up taking more or less time at each place, but this will give you a good guideline.
Planning your transitions ahead of time will alleviate confusion later on. If the homes are close together or in the same apartment complex, you can simply walk to the next location. Another option is to bike in between the locations. If the locations are spread out, you’ll want to designate specific drivers to be sure everyone has a ride to the next destination.
Now comes the fun part — choosing a theme. The theme will tie the party together and give the hosts inspiration for what to serve and how to decorate. An easy theme idea is basing the party on a country.
For example, a French theme might feature Bordeaux wine tasting, a selection of French cheeses as an appetizer, a cassoulet for the main course and macarons for dessert. Guests could dress as their favorite French character and hosts could transform their homes into French cafes.
Meet with the hosts ahead of time to decide what each person should make for their course. Suggest options that can be prepared ahead of time or have a quick cook time.
This is especially important for the person hosting the main course. If they are roasting a chicken, they won’t have the time to enjoy the rest of the stops because they’ll be consumed with the meal preparation. Instead, consider making something in a crockpot that you can easily let cook while you’re enjoying the other courses.
It’s also helpful to decide on a budget as a group. Having a designated spending limit for each course will make the hosts feel more comfortable, especially those who are preparing the main courses.
Now that you know the basics of hosting this unique type of dinner party, planning the details is up to you. To get you started, here are three dinner party theme ideas you can try out.
Experience the culture of foreign countries in the comfort of your own home. Each host picks a country that they can base their meal and decorations on.
Galentine’s Day is a celebration of female friendship made famous by the TV show Parks and Recreation. If you and your friends celebrate this occasion on February 13, try making it into a progressive brunch. Each lady can host a different part of the brunch at their home.
Looking to spice up date night? Try out some new spots in town with a progressive dinner date night. Plan each course of the meal at a different local restaurant.
Now that you have an idea of how to host a progressive dinner party, you can get started planning your own. Try it out in your neighborhood to get to know your neighbors a little better.