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Progressive Dinner Party

Created January 10, 2017
Organize a progressive dinner party. It’s the perfect way to enjoy a cooperative meal and get to know the folks down the block.


Admit it: You’ve been talking about getting together with the neighbors since you moved in. Now it’s three years later and that cookout still hasn’t materialized. Solution: Organize a progressive dinner party in which each neighbor offere a course at his or her place. It's the perfect way to enjoy a cooperative meal and get to know the folks down the block. Plus, you’ll finally get an inside peek at the outrageous but gorgeous kitchen remodel you’ve been secretly spying on while walking the dog.


Try a tactic people used in the olden times: Walk to a neighbor’s house, ring the doorbell and invite said neighbors. You could even throw together a flyer for them to stick on the fridge.

If you’re looking for a few more hosts, reach out via email or phone. Showing up on someone’s doorstep and asking them to host a course not only puts them on the spot but may be downright annoying.

Tips & Tricks

  • Progressive parties work best on foot. That way, you don’t have to worry about anyone getting lost, left behind or designating a driver for the night.
  • Be realistic with number of venues. Sure, it’d be fun to go to seven places, but eventually it becomes a chore to uproot a boisterous group. Select three to four homes. If more people want to join in the fun, ask them to team up with one of the hosts on supplemental eats and drinks.
  • Unless you have a dining room table à la Buckingham Palace, anticipate that many guests will likely eat while standing. Chips and guacamole = easy to eat while standing. A pork chop and twice-baked potato = more challenging.
  • Communicate with fellow hosts about the menu. There’s no need to be too strict with a theme, but the meal should build from one location to the next.
  • Rely on dishes that can be prepped ahead of time so that when the time comes to head to your house, you can enjoy yourself. Consider options like cold appetizers, slow cooker entrees and easy-to-assemble desserts.
  • Don’t serve too much or too many types of alcohol. That’s just asking for trouble.

Break the Ice

If your group is sizable and mostly unknown to one another, orchestrate an icebreaker. Try Did You Know? Bingo, where each person receives a bingo card (made ahead of time by the host) with fun facts about each guest written inside the boxes. For example: “practices yoga,” “loves coffee ice cream” or “collects obscure porcelain figurines.” The more bizarre, the better! The challenge is to identify the partygoer who pairs with each fact. Fill your card with five across, up and down, or diagonal, then yell “bingo!”

Warm Weather

A rockin’ taco party satisfies guests and can add a fun element of competition. Ask hosts to cook up their favorite taco-inspired recipe. Partygoers then vote on their favorite recipe. The winner gets a homespun trophy or bragging rights.

Cold Weather

That first snap in the weather brings on insta-cravings for comfort food. Kick off the night with warm appetizers. Focus on hearty sweet-and-savory combos on your next stop. Try cooking up a larger piece of meat that’s not too thick, like a tenderloin. It’s easy to cut into shareable bites and doesn’t take a whole lot of time.


Grazing items work well for holiday parties. Have each host serve three to four appetizers at each location. Coffee drinks, spiced cider and glögg work especially well here. If there are any chemists or mixologists in your group, put them on homemade Tom and Jerry duty, which involves equal parts cooking and science know-how. They’re unbelievably delicious and work as both a drink and dessert. Multitasking!