Saturday, September 1, 2012

How a Potluck Dinner Club Benefits the Whole Family : Parentables

Photo: Katherine Martinko

Last winter, in an attempt to entertain more regularly and have more food-related adventures, some friends and I started a rotating dinner club. Once a month, we take turns choosing a theme and hosting. All dinners are potlucks, based on the menu created by the host, so the workload is never too much for any one person. It's a great system that has resulted in fabulous food and interesting new themes.

Over the past few months, our club has had an Indian feast, Italian dinner, a Primal diet meal, Middle Eastern mezze table, backyard barbecue, strawberry-themed dinner, and Brazilian party. Some meals have been more elaborate than others, usually according to the cooking and entertaining styles of each club member, and that's what makes it varied and interesting. The dinner club has become an integral part of our lives especially because we live in a small town with very limited ethnic food options; it's left up to us to diversify the food we eat.

One of the nicest aspects of the supper club is how kid-friendly it is. It's a great way for parents to hang out with other adults and enjoy great food, without incurring the extra costs of babysitting and eating out. Kids get a fun play date with the guests' children while expanding their palates. They're much more likely to sample foreign foods if they've helped pick a theme and set the menu. The supper club also focuses on entertaining at home, which is a dying art in today's frenetic society. Kids will develop invaluable entertaining skills that will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

If this interests you and the idea of doing it on a monthly basis is daunting, start with a single dinner party. Make it a potluck - everyone loves potlucks. You get to show off your culinary abilities (or work on improving, if you're lacking in that department!), try food made by others, and no one feels overworked.? Themes don't even need to be exotic; they just help to pull together all the potluck dishes in a coherent way. Our monthly suppers are something my family and I look forward to, and the experience has been a positive one that I encourage other families to consider trying, too.

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