Party in Progress: How to Host a Progressive Dinner Party

This past weekend, I, along with a group of 9 wonderful hostesses, threw a Summer Progressive Dinner Party. A What? You may ask? If you have never been a “progressive”, fear not, below is your “how-to” for hosting one!

Party in Progress: How to Host a Progressive Dinner Party
First & foremost, a progressive dinner party is “a party where each successive course is eaten at a different host’s house — the guests progress from house to house”. I like to call it, a “Party in Progress”. Nevertheless, it’s a unqiue event that is also affordable and easy if you follow the guidelines below.

  1. Hosts, or Hostesses. This is probably the most important part of the dinner. If you decide to organize one of these, you’ll need a handful of hosts to help you. We had 3 official stops, with 2-5 hosts at each stop. This helps cut down on the prep work and cost for each stop. This also helps to bring a little variety to each course with different groups prepping and deciding what to serve. (Our party went something like this… Stop # 1- “Starters & Spirits” (appetizers and cocktails), Stop # 2- Supper Soiree (salad and dinner) & Stop # 3- Cordial Endings (desserts) with wine in between!)
  2. Proximity. These dinners work best when each house is close to one another. This could mean within walking distance or just a short drive or cab ride away. We planned ours in the same general neighborhood and it worked out well for everyone involved.
  3. Guest List. The guest list is important for any party, but especially important when RSVPs start rolling in and deciding what to serve. Make sure to get input from all the hosts on who they want to invite and plan your menu around the number that RSVPs “With Pleasure”. Our dinner ended up being close to 50 girls (yes, FIFTY!) and based on that, we decided to serve a variety of lasagna as I am not sure that our ovens could have held 50 chicken breasts. Don’t stress if you don’t have large dining table, it’s a “progressive” dinner and people can “progressively eat” around the house. Hey, we had a little picnic going on in our living room at one point!
  4. Theme. While we had no official “theme” (aside from lots of pink), a lot of dinners are planned with themes in mind. This could be a certain genre of food (think Italian food or American only) or an “Around the World” type of theme with each stop being a different country. Our unofficial theme was “Party in Progress” with wine bottles that seemed to have endless refills.
  5. Timing. Each stop at a progressive should be carefully timed. It’s best to keep most stops to an hour with time for transpo between each house. This allows for food to stay warm and everything to run smoothly.
  6. Be creative! Make this party your own. I always say “love is in the details” (okay, maybe I got that from an episode of Real Housewives but nonetheless) but this is so so true! We had custom cups made, menu cards printed, flowers galore and little place cards for food. Anything you can do to make your guests feel special and show a little bit of your creative side goes a long way!
Party in Progress: How to Host a Progressive Dinner Party

So there you have it! Have you ever hosted a “progressive” before? If not, give it a try! Let me know how it goes!

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1 Comment

  • Reply August 5, 2012

    Miss M

    I’ve never heard of a party like that, but it sounds really fun! The napkins in the last picture are really neat. :)