When we first moved into our new house one of my neighbors suggested throwing a Christmas progressive dinner party (which has become an annual event in our hood). At first I had no idea what a progressive dinner party was. So I started looking for progressive dinner ideas. Let me tell you right off: it’s all the fun of a dinner party without all the work and cost on you! So, What is (and How to Throw) a Progressive Dinner Party?
Be sure to check out our extra little goodie at the bottom of this post (free printable invitations to personalize)!
Simply put, a progressive dinner party is a dinner party shared among houses and families. The dinner can be as many family or friends as you want; five courses will about cover it. If you invite four families to participate you will be going to four different houses over the course of a party, including yours.
Here is how you throw a progressive dinner party:
First, figure out who you are going to invite. I know, duh. I suggest walking distance if you are serving alcohol, which is going to happen in my circle of friends.
Second, pick a theme. Here are some progressive dinner ideas:
- New Years/January
- St. Patrick’s Day/March
- Cinco de Mayo or Mardi Gras/May
- End of Year (school)/June – who doesn’t love that!
- Forth of July/July
- Back to School/August
- Labor Day/September
Think of it like this: holiday themes are times when you find yourself having dinner with friends and family; it can be anytime you have a get together really. Throw a progressive dinner for a girls night or any sports like Super Bowl.
Third, assign meal courses. One of my neighbors is deserts and another is appetizers. I’ve tried to bid for those in the past; it doesn’t work, so I usually end up with a side(s) or soup and salad.
Try these categories:
- Soup & Salad (combine with house one for “Starters & Spirits”)
- Main Course
- Sides (bring to number threes house)
Drinks are optional. I find cocktails with Number One, Three and Five to work well. A five course meal can last for hours especially if you are visiting and plan to play a game/gift exchange.
Finally (optional), throw in a gift exchange. There are ideas for all occasions; limit gift giving to households/couples. For Christmas you can do a themed gift exchange like:
- Laughing Games Only, which is where I first learned to play Cards Against Humanity
- White Elephant Gift Exchange (you can find great gift ideas under $20 on there site too.)
- Cocktails Only (e.g., a set of wine glasses or a nice bottle of wine, etc.)
Other Theme Exchange Ideas:
- Host a small Adult Easter egg hunt during April
- Beads and More during Marti Gras
- Super Bowl t-shirt Exchange and so on….
Keep if fun and plan around gift ideas that you know all the participants will enjoy.
Invitations might be the biggest part of hosting a progressive dinner.
Because you are cramming a lot of “together-time” over several hours the dinner needs to be organized or you will start to lose track of time. Games or gift exchanges are time extenders….like children when you are trying to watch a movie as my husband would say.
The first year we had our Christmas progressive party we spent most of our time chatting and eating ALL the appetizers. If you are planning the dinner, it will be your responsibility to keep things moving!
Backstory: a neighbor of ours has a Bocce court. As a result, after a few hours of cocktails and eating, we are more then willing to blow off desert after being caught up in a game of Bocce Ball. That being said, be mindful of the time and pad some for games or gift exchanges. Gifts and games work best at the end if you don’t want your guests to feel rushed.
Here are some cute invitations or print your own free Progressive Dinner Party Invitations by signing up below, you’ll also get access to all of Domesticating Scout’s project ideas and resources!
If you’re having trouble getting it all done check out this post with the life hacks for the best multitasker!
Photos by: Annie Spratt, Michael Browning, Yutacar, Sam Manns & Pineapple Supply Co. of Upsplash.
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