Entertain Without a Lot of Fuss

A progressive dinner party is when you go from one house to another house for each course of a meal. At the first house, drinks and hors d’oeuvres are served. The next house will host the salad course. The third house will host the entrée course. And the last house will serve coffee, tea, and desserts.

This type of party is good because everyone shares in the preparation and expense of the event. Neighborhood parties are convenient because you are not far from home, especially if you have small children at home with a sitter. Also, it is easy to walk from one house to another house. And if alcohol is being consumed, no one will be driving.

If you live in a neighborhood that enjoys getting together socially, why not plan a progressive dinner party for your next get-together.  

Progressive Dinner Party Dessert(115473)Credit: Southerngirl09

Things you Will Need for a Successful Progressive Dinner Party:

Eager participants

Four houses to host the event

How to Plan a Progressive Dinner Party:

Send an email to the neighbors to see if they are interested in having a progressive dinner party. Explain how this type of party works. Ask for volunteers to host one of the courses, either the cocktail, salad, entrée, or the dessert segment of the get-together. 

Form a committee to plan the dinner party. This committee will decide on a date, a time, and they will plan a timeline for the progression from one house to another house.

Based on the number of people participating, you will need to decide how many people should be assigned to each course. Some courses are more expensive than others, so plan accordingly.

Break down into subcommittees for each course, and make the final plans for the dinner party. The host for each course should be in charge of their committee.

Email the invitations to everyone, giving them the timeline for the evening.

Decide on a Menu for the Progressive Dinner Party:


Non-Alcoholic Dinner Party Idea – Serve Sweet TeaCredit: Southerngirl09

Decide whether you will or will not serve alcohol. In my neighborhood, we do ‘BYOB - Bring Your Own Bottle’, to cut expenses, and the hosts will furnish the setups. When using this idea for youth, non-drinkers, or church groups, set up a large punch bowl, sweet tea, lemonade, bottled water, and soft drinks. As for hors d’oeuvres, we usually ask the members on this committee to bring their favorite appetizer(s). The committee member in charge will ask each member what he or she will be bringing, so there will be no duplications.


Choose what type of salad you will be serving. Will it be a salad bar, with all the fixings, or congealed salads? Our group typically has a salad bar for our summer event and congealed salads at our Christmas celebration.


Progressive Dinner Party Entrée CasseroleCredit: Southerngirl09

While having a variety of choices for the other courses of the meal, we find that having just one entrée works best. Since casseroles can be made ahead of time, are easy to carry, and can easily be reheated, they make a good entrée choice.

Just make sure everyone uses the same recipe. (Ground Beef Stroganoff is a popular casserole for our group.)


Offer coffee, tea, and a variety of desserts. Like the hors d’oeuvres, we ask committee members to fix their favorite cake, pie, cookies, etc. That way, we will have a large selection. I suggest that you cut the desserts in small pieces, since many will want to sample a variety of different desserts. At a summer progressive dinner party, one year, we made homemade ice cream and served cookies. (SAFETY NOTE: If serving homemade ice cream, I suggest that you request that everyone making ice cream make it using a cooked custard or one that does not require eggs.)

In Closing

A progressive dinner is a fun way to entertain. Best of all, no one household has all the responsibility, work, and expense of the whole affair. Also, when planning Sunday School parties, before prom parties, graduation parties, etc., consider using the progressive dinner party as an option.