How to host a festive progressive dinner around the world – without leaving the city.
You’re probably asking yourself, “What is a progressive dinner?”
Great question! A progressive dinner is a meal of multiple courses, each of which are served at a different location. It’s a great way to get everyone together for special and unique experience.
You may have heard of neighborhoods hosting progressive dinners, or progressive dinners hopping from restaurant to restaurant, but my friends and I decided to host one out of our apartments and it was simply the best.
While most progressive dinner parties focus on serving up 4+ courses including an appetizer, starter (soup or salad), main, and then dessert, we took a different route. Our group of five hosts each prepared cocktails and appetizers to share – like a progressive cocktail party.
When my friends proposed a progressive dinner “apartment crawl” with a lineup of globally-inspired cocktails and cuisine, I was 150% onboard. Traveling through food is the closest you can get to actually traveling without hopping on a plane. You don’t have to be in Israel to enjoy a fantastic bowl of hummus, and you don’t have to be in Spain to enjoy a sumptuous glass of sangria. There are foods that, in one taste, bring me back to a memory of my travels and precious time spent on the road, and I adore sharing that gift with others.
Here’s how to host a progressive dinner or cocktail party:
1. Gather your hosts. We’re lucky to have a number of friends living in the same apartment complex, so this was easy. Each resident hosted, and guests were invited to bring something if they would like.
2. Pick a theme. We chose “Around The World” because we’re a group of avid travelers who are passionate about the foods we love to eat, so it was fun to honor some of our favorite countries and cuisines.
3. Pick a date and time, invite your friends, and plan the route. Determine where the will festivities start, and where they will end. Be sure to communicate the plan with your friends so that they know where to go if they arrive late.
4. Plan your menu and optional themed decor!
5. Prepare your food ahead of time. If you’re a host, you deserve to enjoy the party! Do as much prep as you can ahead of time so you can be a guest, too.
Here’s the menu that we created:
- Spiced sangria
- Sausage, tomato, and manchego cheese bites
- Red pepper dip, toasted bagel chips, harissa dipping oil
- Avocado chorizo pinxtos
- Aperol Spritz
- Cheese board featuring everyone’s favorite – burrata
- Charcuterie and crackers
- Whiskey sours
- Scottish tea cakes
- Vintage hats and folk music!
- Sake bombs
- Spicy ramen
- An array of Japanese snacks
- Tecate beer
- Chips & salsa
- Taco bar
If you aren’t sold yet, let’s talk about the benefits of hosting (and attending!) a progressive dinner party. As a host, you’ll save money because you won’t spend what you would have to treat your guests to a full dinner, and you won’t have to deal with the stress of preparing each course by yourself. You’ll also have the opportunity to get super creative with whichever dish (or country) you choose, and you get to showcase your home to your friends. As an attendee, you get to enjoy experiencing your friends’ unique and wonderful cooking styles and favorite cuisines. You’ll also sneak in a few extra steps, and the evening will be anything but boring.
We had a blast going to each apartment, experiencing the foods of each country – accompanied by an expert playlist for each location – plus each host’s special touches. I lined my table with colorful pompoms that reminded me of Spain, while one friend already had a collection of framed vintage travel maps, and another’s picture-perfect decor suited a classy Scotland soirée. We even had a festive piñata at our last destination – Mexico!
Have you ever attended a progressive dinner? Is this something you would try? Share in the comments!