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The green-eyed event planner - Budget friendly entertaining

The fun of a progressive dinner party

"One of the delights of life is eating with friends,second to that is talking about eating. And, for anunsurpassed double whammy, there is talking abouteating while you are eating with friends." LaurieColwin

Let's face it, entertaining can be expensive! Arethere ways we can break bread with our friendswithout breaking the bank? Throughout the year, Ihope to bring you some great tips under the headingof budget friendly entertaining.

The first tip is about organizing a progressive dinnerparty! Use your imagination. it can be a dinnerparty, brunch, dessert party, or even a cocktail party.

Why does a progressive dinner party make for budgetfriendly entertaining? The responsibilities are distributedamong several hosts. Generally made up of 3or 4 courses, a different host prepares each course andthe guests make their way from home to home, appetizer/cocktail hour to main course to dessert. Think"potluck on wheels".

Some say that the progressive dinner party conceptwas born in apartment complexes where coupleswould walk from apartment to apartment. Apparently,in the 1950's and 60's it became popular in suburbiaas a traveling neighbourhood dinner party. Whereverits roots are, the same general concept applies today.

Here are some tips to planning a successful progressivedinner party.

Divide and conquer! Determine who will beparticipating and the number of courses to be served.If this is your first time planning a progressive dinner,you might want to stick to 3 courses.

Come up with a menu theme! It is much nicerto have a menu theme to help marry the food flavourstogether. The food theme can then carry over to thed├ęcor.

Dress the part encourage everyone to wearan outfit that reflects the overall theme, makes it morefun.

Determine the schedule how much time willbe spent at each home? For example the appetizer/cocktail hour may be 50 minutes, then 10 minutes fortravel, the main course can be 1.5 hours, 10 minutesfor travel, and finally the dessert course.

Choose recipes which can be prepared aheadand require minimal time to finish for presentation

No Invitations required..just itineraries send everyone an itinerary which outlines where thedinner party will begin, what is being served and howmuch time is allotted for each course before movingalong.

Set up ahead of time each host should haveeverything set up ahead of time, i.e table set up, winechilled, etc.

Traveling "progressive" Centerpiece Tostretch the budget out even further, the centerpiececan travel from home to home with the guests! It canbegin as a simple centerpiece with greens and carnationsand as it moves to each home, the host can adda few more stems of a different flower, changing thelook slightly. It can receive its finishing floral touch atthe final home!

If driving is required, designate a non-drinkingdriver or enlist someone to act as a driver for the eveningand carpool to each home.

Beg or borrow if you don't have enoughchina and flatware, borrow from a friend. The samegoes for table linens.

Lights, camera, action! Designate someone inthe group to take lots of pictures.

Relax and have fun If this is your first kick atthe progressive dinner party can, don't sweat the smallstuff. Everyone will have a great time.

Judy Kucharuk has a certification in special eventmanagement and is owner of Footprint ManagementSystems Inc., specializing in green meetings andevents. For more information log onto