From my experience, and after checking with friends who have participated in progressive dinners, there are several drawbacks to this plan. Unlike a potluck dinner where everyone brings food to one location, every host has to prepare his home for receiving guests, as well as having the cleanup afterwards. Also, it can be difficult to move people out of a home to go to the next course when the party is really rolling along. Finally, unless you pick the right recipes, the host for the subsequent course generally has to cut her current course short to run home and get ready for the next round. With all of that in mind, here are some final tips for hosting one of these dinners:
- The closer the participants live to one another, the better for minimizing travel time.
- Never plan on more than three changes of locale.
- Choose recipes that can be made ahead and simply reheated and served when the guests arrive. There's no time to fuss in the kitchen when everyone needs to get up and leave within the hour.
- Set your table prior to leaving your home for the first course.
- Appoint designated drivers at the first course if you'll be driving between homes. When organizing a dinner for a large group, allow extra time for the hors d'oeuvres and dessert courses where everyone will be together.
- Try to devise a way to motivate people to move along to the next stop. Perhaps give everyone a certain number of poker chips at the first course. As they move from home to home, the last arrivals lose their chips. Whoever has the most chips at the last stop wins a prize.
A Harvest-Themed Progressive Dinner Menu for 8
- Bruschetta with White Beans, Tomatoes and Olives
- Brie and Red Pepper Mini Quiches
- Garden Dip (served with crackers or veggies)