Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Progressive Dinner Party

I am forever a fan of planning & hosting parties. Especially in the midst of being on a tight budget, it is so economical to host parties versus bar hopping or going out to dinner. Last night was our first adventure at hosting a Progressive Dinner party. The idea is that you have 3 courses provided by 3 different hosts in each of their 3 different homes. This works especially well in NYC as the group can progress on foot, eliminating the need for a sober-cab! We chose a theme (Mexican!) and each host decided what they would serve. To keep the size of the party somewhat manageable, each host was allotted 5 guests so our party ended up being 18 people! And I must say, the party was overall, a huge success! Here's a look into the details of our party...and some tips if you want to throw one!

The other 2 hosts live within 2 blocks of my apartment, which was so key to the success of our dinner. We started at 7pm with appetizers & drinks at my friend Carlos' apartment. The fare was simple: Chips, guacamole and Cheese quesadillas. To drink we had Poor Man's Margaritas (Tequila & Fresca) and Sangria! We also decided at the last minute that before we progressed to the next place, we'd all take a shot of tequila! We ended up staying at the first house for about an hour and a half then moved on to my place for the main course!

The idea of serving a sit-down dinner for 18 people in a Manhattan apartment is impossible...hence the reason I chose a Build Your Own Taco Bar for our course. I made taco meat in the crockpot and chopped all the toppings in advance so we could all eat right when we arrived. I thought it would be no big deal to make my saffron rice & black beans once we all got here but people were starving so I let everyone start chowing on the tacos and the rice & beans became course #2 which actually worked out great! After everyone had their fill of the nosh, we commenced course two with a shot of tequila, and progressed to apartment #3 for dessert!

Mexican may be a super easy theme for apps and entrees, but dessert can be a little challenging! Amanda & Rich stepped it up with homemade churros served with vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce and cayenne pepper! YUM! They also made Mojitos for the guest still interested in drinking at this point in the night! Everyone finally said goodnight around 12 midnight. I came home to an incredibly messy apartment but it was totally worth it. Unlike a traditional dinner party where it can be expensive and stressful, sharing the party with two other hosts is cost effective and so much fun! The two hours at my place were hectic as I was cooking the rice & beans, heating tortillas on the stove and trying to keep everyone's glasses full but it only lasted for an hour....the rest of the night was totally relaxed and a blast for me!

In case you want to copy our menu.....


Cheese quesadillas

Tortilla chips & Guac

Drinks: Poor Man's Margaritas & Sangria



Saffron rice & black beans

Drinks: Margaritas, Rioja wine, and Coronas


Cinnamon sugar Churros with Vanilla ice cream and cayenne pepper chocolate sauce

So, if you want to host your own progressive dinner party, here are a few tips...

Make sure all of the hosts live very close together - 5 minute walk max!

Limit the number of invitees - 5/host was maybe a few too many. When I do it again we'll keep it to 3 or 4 guests per host.

At our party, very few people knew each other. At the first house it was very divided with people chatting only with those they knew prior. Don't worry, by house 2, everyone was mingling and getting to know new friends. This was the best part of the night! So no worries if your group isn't all best friends...they will be by course 3!

As my Grandma Bernice used to say, "Plan your work and work your plan." This is crucial when hosting a progressive dinner. I made a spreadsheet for each host to fill out their address, menu and guest list to keep us organized. We also made a rough estimate of how much time we'd spend at each house which ensured we made it through all 3 courses!
All in all, it was a super fun and unique night that I will surely do again! Happy hosting!

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