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Host a Progressive Dinner Party

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Tired of being cooped up on chilly nights? Gather your friends and go progressive!


A progressive dinner is simply a party where each course is eaten at a different host’s house in the same evening. In other words, the guests progress from house to house. Think of it like a potluck, but extended across three or four locations.

Progressives are fun because they allow several guests to showcase their homes or cooking skills. And giving your dinner party an “itinerary” transforms a basic meal into an engaging activity that invites participation.

Here are some ideas on how to plan this festive evening of food and friends.

friends dinner party progressive

Logistics:


Try to have at least four houses involved. The first home opens the evening with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, while the second home continues with salad and soup. The third home presents the entrée, and at the fourth house, you close with dessert.

Progressives work best when guests can walk or easily drive between locations, so hosting them within neighborhoods is ideal and very popular. Not an option for you? See if everyone can pitch in for a van or taxi to safely take you to and from each destination…together.

Schedule the stops—and stick to the schedule, both out of courtesy to the hosts and to make sure all food is served in a timely manner.

Prepping meals or dishes beforehand is key to enjoying time with your guests, and enables you to be a guest as well. You wouldn’t want to miss the other stops because you’re still assembling your salad or entrée!

Keep the guest list minimal. Take into consideration all the houses involved. Can they comfortably host the same amount of people? How many guests can efficiently move between houses and not upset the schedule? You want a lively group, but also one that can pick up and go when it’s time to move on.

Invitations:


 

Progressives are about movement and participation. Take your invitations a step up from everyday email and get clever! For example, on a blank piece of cardstock, sketch the front entrance of each house, and below each print the address and what will be served at that address. Gently roll the cardstock into a scroll and tie with a decorative ribbon before delivering to guests.

Decorations:


 

Minimal is the way to go. The real decoration comes from enjoying each home’s style and the way hosts present the food. If you’re feeling ambitious, each house could have a different palette of color to entice creativity, but the focus is on the friends and food for this type of party.

dinner progressive menu ideas

What to Serve:


Here are some perfect Tablespoon meals and nibbles for your progressive.

blood-red sangria

House #1: Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres

How about sipping on…

Blood Red Sangria Cocktail

Pear Cosmo

Crantini’s

Watermelon Gin Cocktail

shrimp cocktail appetizer

…while munching on:

Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail

Cheesy Herb and Beef Bites

Guacamole Appetizer Bites

Meatball Poppers

Easy Mini Quiches

new england clam chowder

House #2: Soup and salad

You could try:

New England Clam Chowder

Italian Sausage Soup

Shrimp Bisque

Gazpacho

Candied Walnut & Gorgonzola Salad

Greek Salad

Caesar Salad

pork tenderloin

House #3: Entrée

Here are some sure winners:

Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Spare Ribs

Vegetable Lasagna

progressive cheesecake recipe

House #4: Dessert

Don’t get too full before this stop! Try these mouth-watering treats:

Frozen Peanut Butter Cheesecake

Fudgy Brownie Trifle

Lemon Cheesecake Tarts

Sugar Kissed Apple Pie

What's your favorite way to dine with friends?

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