Planning a Progressive Dinner Party

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Upstate New York winters can feel cold and long. It is easy to feel lonely and isolated because most people are hibernating. In the spring, summer and fall, we meet neighbors on the porch, socialize in our front yard, and chat over the backyard fence. But all winter long we bundle up and don’t linger outside. As a way to connect during the long winter months, we decided to hold a progressive dinner party with our neighbors.

At a progressive dinner, each couple prepares and serves one course at their home. The party moves from house to house throughout the night. Even though you’re indoors for the party, you get a change of scenery by visiting different homes. It is a little less work than preparing a whole dinner party, because you just have to make one course. And, as long as your party hosts are close together, no one has to worry about drinking and driving.

We held our progressive dinner on New Year’s Eve. There were four couples and four courses: hors d’oeuvres, salad, main course and dessert. We set a schedule of one hour per house, but it ended up being more like an hour and a half. We didn’t really mind because we didn’t have a strict schedule, but you may want to have someone who is the “timekeeper” to push people along from house to house if your group is more time conscious.

Figuring out what to serve can be fun. I used Pinterest to find invitation and food ideas. Foods that are easy to make ahead and can be plated or warmed quickly will work best. You may have to run ahead and prepare something or move something into the oven, depending on what course you are.

You can invite people who aren’t on the “host” list, just make sure you get an RSVP and perhaps ask if they can bring wine or a beverage for the group.

We had a lot of fun at our progressive dinner party. We were all well fed and we even made it ‘til midnight to watch the ball drop on television! If you want to get your neighbors better or just have a fun time busting winter boredom, try a progressive dinner party!