Since the cost and work are shared, you'll find that a progressive dinner party is an inexpensive, easy, and fun way to entertain.

For a progressive dinner party, each course is served in a different location. For example, you might serve appetizers at your house, then move the party goers to your neighbor's house for the main course.

Here are some tips to make your progressive party a success:

Women @ Potluck Party with a Plan
Sharing the work increases the fun.
  • As a group, decide which courses you'd like to have for your progressive dinner. For example, you might plan to have appetizer, salad, main dish, and dessert courses. Or, if you prefer, plan an appetizer party with nibbles and beverages at each stop.
  • If you have more people than courses, let the extra people "sign up" for food preparation only and take their foods (such as a bread or soup) to serve with the featured dishes to round out the meal.
  • Allow some time for each person or couple assigned to a course or accompaniment to think about what they'd like to prepare. Since hosts and guests will arrive at the second and successive houses at the same time, choose foods that can be made ahead and assembled or reheated quickly at the last minute. If a dish won't reheat successfully, forget it and choose something that will or that doesn't require heating at all.
  • Meet to see whether the complete menu works well together. Look for a balance of types of foods, colors, textures, and flavors. Discuss what kinds of beverages will be served and who is responsible for providing them.
  • Allow each person or couple assigned a course to decide what serving setup works the best for them. Appetizers, salads, and desserts can probably be served buffet style, while you may want to serve the main dish as a sit-down course.
  • When the food permits, set out the ingredients and let your guests assemble or cook their own food.
  • At the last stop, plan to have everyone linger over a variety of freshly brewed coffees served with the dessert course. Serve the brews in small coffee or demitasse cups and embellish each serving with whipped cream.


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