SAY the words “progressive dinner” and those responding are just as likely to use the phrases “old fashioned” or “1970s phenomena”.
These days it’s probably far easier when gathering friends for a dinner party to settle on the one venue.
That way you save on having to worry about how you get from one place to another between courses if the wine has been flowing a little too freely.
There’s also the concern for the creators of the subsequent course/s about ensuring the food remains hot or cold and at its best by the time the guests turn up at the next venue.
The social etiquette experts who now post on the internet say the progressive dinner has made somewhat of a comeback.
Part of the reason is the pressure is off any one person to be the sole host of a party, both in entertainment and cost.
For those of us who live in a friendly street, renowned for having residents who are keen to get together and share a little conviviality, the progressive dinner is just the answer.
For starters, there are no transport issues.
In our case earlier this month, we didn’t even have to cross the road between courses.
Our street has already had an annual Christmas party on a neighbouring sporting oval for many years, popular with adults and kids alike, but it had been a couple of years since a progressive dinner had been held.
The rate of change — with some neighbours moving out and others taking their place — was recognised as presenting us with just the right opportunity to revive what had previously been a great chance to catch up.
A progressive dinner is an occasion to be shared among all ages, well, perhaps except for the kids old enough to be babysat or do the babysitting or find themselves with a sleepover option on the night.
Our group of 30-plus neighbours ranged in age from 20s to 70s and 80s and everyone in between.
There was a new baby to coo over and at the end of the night I watched with great satisfaction as some neighbours escorted older friends safely home in the dark.
Not only was there a range in age, there was the range of experience.
Among the older residents are those who may have lived several decades in the street, raised families and watched others raise theirs.
We’ve now lived in our street for more than a dozen years ourselves, but the joy is being able to welcome the newcomers into the secret that is our wonderful neighbourhood.
It’s a neighbourhood that is about supporting one another in their time of need and being on the lookout for others.
Few of us these days spend the time with our neighbours that we may have done as kids.
There simply is too much going on in our working, individual and family lives that we don’t get the opportunity.
But this occasion has offered many of us the chance to get to know others a little more than simply waving hello over the fence or as you pass by in the car to someone whose name you might struggle to remember.
There is something about sharing food that enriches that experience.
By the time we got through the entrees, the opportunity to stretch your legs for the walk to the next house for the main course was welcomed.
By the time we got to dessert, new friendships had been formed and old ones revived.
In the week or so since, I’ve caught up with a couple of our neighbours and all of us mentioned what a wonderful night it was, blessed by lovely weather and the generosity of our hosts.
All of us are now looking forward to next time — there’s something about sharing time and a meal with others that’s never going to go out of style.
Mick McGlone is on leave