Short on the time, energy or spare cash to pull off a chic dinner party? Make it a progressive dinner and share the work—and the fun—with your friends. A progressive dinner, which moves to a different home for each course, is perfect for a group of friends living not too far from each other.
It can work for any number of people, but let’s use eight as an example. Four couples or pairs of friends would each host one of four courses in their home: 1. hors d’oeuvres and aperitifs; 2. soup, salad or other appetizer; 3. main course; 4. dessert, coffee, tea and liqueurs.
During the planning, make sure that each host has room for the number of guests. Someone with a smaller home, or without a large dining table, might choose the hors d’oeuvres or dessert course.
Ensuring that your course will be ready on time while you are enjoying another course elsewhere is the challenge for all but the hosts at the starting location. The menu must be chosen with this in mind. Best are dishes that can be kept warm or be quickly reheated, as well as cold and room-temperature foods. At least one of the hosts of the next course will need to leave about 10 minutes ahead of the guests.
Allow about 45 minutes at the first two homes, an hour for the main course and as long as you like for dessert at the final stop. Assign the most punctual person in the group the important task of keeping everyone on schedule.
If the cuisine does not suggest a theme, look to the season for the theme as well as the menu. You and your friends may find the progressive dinner party concept so liberating that you’ll want to do it on a regular basis—monthly, seasonally or annually. This could be the end of solo entertaining!