8 Steps to Creating a Progressive Holiday Dinner Party
November 31, 2014
From our partner Jen Burg, The Suburban Mom
During the holiday season, there is a lot of pressure to throw big, over-the-top parties. But sometimes less is more, especially when the real goal is spending quality time with family and friends.
Instead of taking on the duty of party host all by yourself, divide party responsibilities with your closest friends and throw a progressive dinner party – a traveling party where guests move from location to location for each course. Because a different guest hosts each course, the best part about this kind of party is that everyone has a chance to be involved in the planning, and everyone gets a chance to sit back and enjoy. It is like four mini parties in one evening, and you only have to plan one.
1: Recruit co-hosts – The most important part of a progressive dinner is recruiting co-hosts. You will need at least four hosts, so talk to your friends about who might be interested in participating.
2: Divide and conquer – Most of these traveling parties include four stops – appetizers and drinks, soup and salad, main course and dessert. Often the hardest part of throwing a progressive dinner party is deciding who will host each course. Meal planning as a group can help take the pressure off the main-dish host and also help coordinate the meal.
3: Set the mood – During the holiday season, most homes are already decked out to the nines with holiday décor. This makes decorating for your portion of the party as simple as setting the table — which makes cleanup a breeze, too.
4: Pre-prep meals – The beauty of a progressive dinner is the ability to sit back and enjoy the other courses. So it is important to encourage fellow hosts to pre-prep as much of their assigned course as possible. Dishes prepared in slow cookers are a perfect solution and allow hosts to enjoy early rounds without rushing off to check on their course.
5: Keep it moving! – While guests may lose track of time and want to linger, it is important to keep the party moving. Sticking to a pre-determined party schedule helps hosts plan the timing of courses. If need be, designate someone to be the schedule keeper, nudging guests on to the next location.
6: Plan the kids’ evening, too – Whether or not you choose to include kids on the guest list is up to you. But keep in mind that if a host has kids, they will likely be at that stop. If you are looking forward to an adults-only party, consider including an extra stop on the party rotation – a kid drop-off house. Hire a couple of babysitters to watch the kids at one home, and then let the kids have their own party while the parents have some adult time.
7: Make cleanup a breeze – Whether or not you decide to serve guests on paper plates or fine china, invite guests to pitch-in for quick cleanup at each stop. With a little help, each host should be able to move onto the next portion of the party without the dread of coming home to a mess. (Another progressive dinner party plus!)
8: Make it a tradition – At the end of the night, everyone should be able to sit back and reminisce on a good time. Who knows, you might even find yourselves planning your next progressive dinner party!
Tip – Share this article with friends to give them an idea of what you are planning!