Thursday, August 2, 2012

Progressive one location

My husband and I love to cook. Some of our greatest date nights are creating a delicious meal together. But what we really love to do is entertain. Guess you may have gathered that if you frequent this blog. :)

Enter: Progressive Dinner Party
I used to be the person in charge of social events for our church congregation. One year we hosted a progressive dinner at our home, as a means of getting to know each other better. Progressive dinners were not a new idea, by any means. But the problem with them is that you are traveling (and in our case, the homes weren't close together-- 10-20 mins apart in most cases) and you are with the same group of people the whole time. Not really reaching out and learning more about people outside your regular circle. 

Having it all in one place, but still moving around was my goal, and it worked out perfectly. It was a very successful and fun night. Here's how we did it.

Our theme was MOVIES.
We began with a group of 40 that RSVP'd
In our home, we had 5 rooms set up with a table that would each seat 8. Dinner would be five courses. 
(dining room, living room, family room, morning room, kitchen)

We asked for volunteers to be one of five "table captains". These couples would decide on their table's movie (theme), decorate their table and the room it was held in, decide what food they wanted served, and would divide up making that food with the other couples who would begin at their table. 

As it turned out, we had the following "Movies" and food-
Casablanca- Moroccan
Lady and the Tramp- Italian
True Grit- BBQ
Pirates of the Caribbean- Tropical
Julie and Julia- home cooking (Julia Child's dishes)

As everyone arrived, they received a name tag- which obviously had their name on it, but there was also a number in the corner: 1, 2, or 3. I made sure each couple's name tag has the same number on it. If there were singles in our group, I paired them up for the night. (a moving buddy :)

Dinner began at the table which guests brought food for- the table captains they were under.  But as each course began, the couples would move to another table. I wanted to mix it up so that you never ate with the same couples twice. Get to know more people. 

Here is where the number on the name tag came into play. Each table had three couples that "move". The "table captains" never moved. They stayed at their table the entire time.So each table had a couple with number 1, number 2, and number 3 on their name tags.
The tables were also numbered 1-5 (to make things easier)

When it was time to "move" for the next course, each couple would progress the number of tables stated on their name tag, clockwise. SO.... the folks at table number 1 did the following:
name tag 1 moved to table 2
name tag 2 moved to table 3
name tag 3 moved to table 4

At table 2- 
name tag 1 moved to 3
name tag 2 moved to 4
name tag 3 moved to 5

and so on.

Following Couple number 1 from table 1 for all the courses...they would eat at tables 1-5 in order for each course.
Couple number 2 from table 1 ate at table 3 for 2nd course, 5 for third course, 2 for 4th course, and 4 for 5th course.
get the idea? Each course would have the couples moving forward the number of tables that was on their name tag. So each course had 4 new couples together.

(if you are confused, draw a circle like this one and map the movement of the'll all come together)

Now this would be perfect the way it's stated here. However, we wanted to have some "free mingling" time. So we actually had dessert together. 
Our movie for Dessert was Charlie and the Chocolate factory, and we had chocolate fountain. 
So in our rotations, there was one table that each couple never made it to. But for dessert, they could sit with whomever they wanted. 

There were only a few things that attendees wished they had been able to do
1. try all the different food- because you only got one course at each table (and missed one in our rotation)
2. try all the different food ;)

It would have been a LOT to have enough of each course to let 40 people even try a bite. There were leftovers here and there, so folks did mull around and take a piece of this and that at the end.

Dressing to go along with the theme would be a fun thing to do as well. A few table captains did dress up, which was great! 

So that was our fun Progressive dinner in one location!!

NOTE: Some couples were disappointed that they didn't get to try the food they brought, because they are only at that table for the first course. It would have been wise to let them know that they should make a little extra to try at home before they bring it. :) There were dishes from different countries, and some people made things they'd never eaten before. 


  1. What did you do to solve the cutlery/napkins/glasses issue?

  2. Great question! We used cloth napkins and the took all of those things with them. Had we used paper napkins, I would have had a stack at each table to have them use. The tables had fork, knife, spoon regardless if they needed all of them so that there would be a complete set to move along with them.

  3. We are puzzled as to what the courses are. Does each table have only one course or are all five courses at each table?

  4. Another good question. Here is the short answer: Each table had 4 courses. We had a chocolate fountain for dessert so everyone got their fountain goodness and then sat with whomever they wanted to for the last course.

    Long answer: You begin at the table you are assigned to help provide food for; under the direction of a table captain that either decides on the whole menu, or could simply say "bring an Italian salad". There you eat the appetizer. Then its time to move. The next table everyone ends up at is where all will eat the soup course, then all tables will eat salad, then lastly, every table eats entrée. So you are getting a variety of types of foods- based on what the table themes are, but you get the same four courses at the same time as all the other tables, no matter what table you are sitting at. Hope that makes sense.