Easy Dinner Party - Planning A Progressive Dinner
Plan A Party
Progressive dinners are a great way to get together with a moderate size group while dividing the hosting responsibilities. This can make hosting a party a lot less overwhelming. It usually takes one person to spearhead the whole operation though. If you are good at organizing, you may want to start this sort of party in your neighborhood. Neighborhoods are a great place to have this sort of party because of the short distances between homes.
First of all, you will need three or four people to volunteer to host. You could send out a flier in your neighborhood stating the date and time of the proposed party along with a place to sign to either host a section or bring a dish for a certain course. Usually there are four courses: appetizers, soup and salad, main course, and dessert. In our neighborhood, we do this annually, we cut out the main course since the other courses provided more than enough food!
Hopefully, you end up with enough people signing up to host. If too many people volunteer to bring a dish to the same course, it would be up to you to make phone calls and changes. Obviously, these parties work best in neighborhoods of fun, party-loving people!
If you had just a small group of say three or four couples interested, then each couple would host a course and be responsible for all of the food served. So basically, the more people you have involved, the less everyone has to make. And, the less people, the more you make. Ideally, you would have three or four choices at each course.
Usually you would spend one to two hours at each home, depending on how many courses you do, with the most amount of time spent at the last house with dessert. I quite often like to host the dessert phase. We have a large finished basement with a kitchen which works out perfectly. At one end is a game room with a pool table and air hockey. Since we are not in a rush to go to the next house, a game of pool is always in order. I like to have a music on and a fire in the fireplace so everyone can relax and start to unwind.
Depending on the group you are having the party with, you may want to include alcohol. At our parties, everyone brings their favorite bottle of wine to share. These start being opened with appetizers and then are carried from house to house.
The person hosting appetizers may also want to serve a special drink. Whether it be a favorite margarita recipe or maybe cosmopolitans, this can be a fun party starter.
By the time you get to the dessert phase, people will probably be ready for coffee. Decaf is usually best for late at night. However, sometimes people want a little dessert drink. I like to serve chocolate martinis when I host the desserts.
Since everyone is walking home, there is never a problem with driving.
Cooking For A Crowd
Appetizers, I feel, are the easiest foods to serve and eat. There are so many choices of finger foods. With several people bringing a choice, there is always a variety. It is a good idea, as an organizer, to find out what each person is bringing so there won't be any duplicates. Some suggestions are: chicken puffs, tortilla pinwheels, meatballs, bruschetta, etc.. All you need is a large counter space or table. People can just stand around or you can set chairs around conducive to conversation. You could set out either hard plates or nice paper plates depending on how formal you want to be.
Soup and Salad Course
This course requires a home that has room for seating with tables and chairs. The host will need to set up enough seating for everyone. Salad plates and soup bowls are needed so you want to make sure you have enough. The people bringing soups may want to drop them by before the party starts. A crock pot works wonderfully for this. Some soup suggestions are: minestrone, vegetable, broccoli cheese and clam chowder. Salad suggestions: taco, pasta, ceasar, garden, potato...
Again, this requires a home with room for seating with tables and chairs. Depending on how much you want served at the first two courses, you may want to skip this course. Otherwise, the sky's the limit on what you serve.
Yum, yum...the best course of all. This course is another informal one. Set out the desserts on a large table or counter and let everyone go at it. People are usually ready to sit and relax so a comfy seating area is nice. Make sure to have coffee on hand. Some suggestions are: a chocolate fountain, death by chocolate, creme brulee, pie, cookies...