The holiday season is usually filled with traditional family gatherings, a fact that has been true for generations. Most everyone has a fond memory of sitting around a banquet table at a grandmother’s house, waiting for the turkey or the ham to be carved and passed around.
Some people fail to remember, however, that after the meal is all over, and the relatives have each gone back to their own homes, Grandmother has a lot of cleaning up to do. Those looking to create a new family tradition for the holidays may want to consider the institution of a progressive dinner, also referred to as a “round robin” dinner, in this year's plans.
Obviously, the plan only works where there are several homes within the family within close driving distance, but can represent an enjoyable alternative to settling in at the same location for an entire day or evening.
Simply described, the progressive dinner is one where each phase of the meal is served at a different family member’s home.
Hors d’oeuvres can be served at the first location, followed by soups and salads at the next. The third stop could be the home where the family will be served an entrée, and the last stop is for coffee and desserts.
Following a route such as this offers some advantages over the single-stop event, including the opportunity to see how the various houses are decorated for the holidays, and it breaks up the responsibility of the food service to several participants. And the variety can really make for an interesting evening.
There are a few pitfalls to avoid, however, when planning a progressive dinner. For example, the group should be advised to try and stay on schedule. If the meal starts at, say 6 PM, and needs to make three other stops before the evening is done, then those who are prone to sit and visit should be politely reminded to continue their conversations at the next location.
It may also help to select family homes that are large enough to seat the entire crowd comfortably. Another good idea is to have some sort of entertainment or event, other than the meal, scheduled for each of the stops.
At the first home, where appetizers or cocktails are included, a small gift exchange could be planned. At another home, the family might sing Christmas carols or recite holiday poetry, or one of the venues could feature the reading of a scripture passage. The last stop might include a visit from Santa, or a drama or comedy sketch. The possibilities are endless.
At the very least, a progressive dinner tends to involve more members of the group, and might be a welcome change to the current holiday traditions.