Celebrate the Holidays by sharing the Hosting in a Progressive Dinner
Progressive Dinner Party
I’m lucky enough to live in a wonderfully close knit neighborhood where I’m blessed with great neighbors and even closer friends. I knew I wanted a way to celebrate the Holidays with them, but how?
Our idea for our Progressive Dinner evolved during a couple different conversations, but it broke down to two major ideas. One, we all spend so much time and money decorating our homes for the Holidays and yet, very few people actually see and enjoy it. And two, during the Holidays, our time and money are very limited and very precious. So we came to the conclusion that the perfect solution was to host a Progressive Dinner, where we would be able to share the hosting responsibilities while being able to focus on one special aspect, and be able to enjoy visiting each other’s homes, while enjoying each other’s company.
This is a particularly great idea during the Holidays but could work beautifully anytime for any occasion.
This invitation was designed by my good friend Shannon, she has a cute website with many more design ideas! Check her out at www.flipchickdesigns.blogspot.com
For those of you who have never been part of a progressive dinner, here are the basics. We divided the dinner into 4 courses, and each course is served in a different home. We divided ours into “Cocktails” and Appetizers, Salad Course, Main Course, and Dessert Course. We each chose which course we would like based on our different entertaining personalities and resources. For instance, my friend Kemari, who does not like to cook as much was happy to host the Salad Course. My friend, Heidi, also known as Miss Sassy was very excited to spice up our Appetizers and start the night. I have the most “dining” space so it was a natural fit for me to serve the Main Course, and our friend Katie, has a great house for lounging over Desserts and relaxing at the end of the night. Our friend Shannon designed the Invitation, and co-hosted Dessert. And our good friend Melissa, is the only one not in walking distance, so she helped me host the Main Course.
“Cocktails” and Appetizers
Miss Sassy made a fabulous Spinach Artichoke Dip served with Crostini, as well as a yummy Vegetable Pizza. She wanted to round out her menu with some “Man food,” and included some BBQ Cocktail Links. And of course, paired it with sparkly Apple, Grape, and White grape juices! We could have all eaten a lot more, but were eating cautiously, saving room for the coming courses.
Salad and Main Course
Due to unforeseeable circumstances, Kemari decided to serve her wonderful Caesar Salad at my house while I finished preparing the Main Course.
But first, since I was the host for this, naturally I decided to dress up my tables and I’ll show you what I did. We had a group of 12 people so first, I decided to go ahead and divide the group to comfortably sit 6 at each of my two dining tables. I wanted each table to be unique but tied elements together to keep them within the same themes. I used metallics, snowflakes, candles, martini glasses, and glittered ornaments for both tables. I wanted them to both be very elegant but approachable styles, and focused one around gold and the other silver.
Gold and White Table
I’ve done a silver table before, so when I decided on doing the “Gold” table, my first inclination was to go shopping!! But after looking around and thinking about my own resources, I was able to pull this entire table together without spending another dollar. I used a sheer white tablecloth that is embossed with gold snowflakes. I pulled out my gold beaded chargers, a gold wire tree, some gold candles, and was hoping I could pull it together into something special. I stole gold glittered ornaments off my daughter’s tree and it was suddenly coming together more beautifully than I expected.
I remembered these gold candles, but by simply setting them on a white porcelain saucer and adding some loose sparkly ornaments around the base, they became just what I wanted.
For my place setting, I used my favorite simple Porcelain Square plates on top of my gold Beaded Chargers. I pulled out my heirloom silver for the perfect finish. I love to mix glasses of different shapes and styles. Some friends are intimidated by stemware, or say they can’t afford it. While my highballs are a beautiful cut crystal that I got as a wedding gift, my Martini glasses here are from the dollar store, anyone can afford that! (The best part is that they are no stress, you can wash them in the dishwasher, and if they happen to break… no tears) For my napkin, I finally decided on simply rolling it up and embellishing with a snowflake cut out of metallic gold paper with a paper punch. My table turned out just like I hoped, simple and elegant.
Silver and Blue Table
For my other table, I used the Silver instead of the Gold accents but stuck with white and brought just a little bit of blue (just because I love the blue and have some beautiful blue dinnerware). I used a White tablecloth again that has a subtle metallic pattern running through it. I used my Silver chargers and a beaded silver snowflake runner down the center. And a tall skinny tree in the corner decorated with blue and silver helped add to the ambiance.
While my gold table had a gold tree with gold ball ornaments, my silver table was centered with a beautiful silver bowl filled with silver ball ornaments. I used my Snowflake candle holders to round out my centerpiece.
For my place setting, I layered my Silver charger with my favorite Porcelain Blue and White Plates. Set with my everyday Silverware and finished with some beautiful stemware. I love my napkin in this setting, I simply rolled it up, and tucked the ends back and underneath to form a bow, I tied it with a matching ribbon to hold it and tucked in a silver bell with a snowflake to bring in my themes even more.
I used two of my favorite glasses to bring some more sparkle to this table. Don’t be afraid to mix and match styles and shapes of glasses as well.
We were enjoying our food so much that I completely forgot to take close ups of our wonderful food, but I will still share our yummy menu…
We strived to find a menu that allowed us to prepare much of it ahead of time, while keeping it festive and elegant.
Pomegranate Cranberry Lime Spritzers
Herb Roasted Pork Loin with Pan Sauce
Creamy Vegetable Gratin
Herb Roasted Fingerling Potatoes
Homemade Rolls with Snowflake Butter Pats
I pressed softened Butter into a Snowflake Candy mold and chilled. This was an easy touch that let my guests know they were special. Love really is in the details!
Once again, I was enjoying myself too much to be diligent with my camera … but dessert was fabulous! Katie and Shannon served Chocolate Chunk Brownies with Ice Cream, Holiday truffles, Hot Chocolate with Chocolate Dipped Spoons, and more!
We decided to finish off our night with a game of Dirty Santa (also known as a White Elephant Gift Exchange). The rules are simple, each guest brings a wrapped item that they would like to pass on for some else to enjoy, this ranges from the silly to the practical. All the gifts are put into a pile in the center and each guest takes turns choosing a gift, with the option to “steal” (which is why it sometimes gets ‘dirty’) from an already opened gift. Once a gift has been ‘stolen’ three times, it’s frozen. And you continue until everyone has a gift. This game was a fun way to end the night with lot’s of laughs, and probably started a few new traditions.
What I loved most about hosting a party in this format was the built in opportunity for mixing up the group. Each time we sat down, or each time we walked to a new home, I found myself sitting and talking with someone new, it was a very fun and natural way to get guests to mingle and mix up. And it was a fun night with good friends, fabulous food, and lot’s of laughs!