Good Company &
Good Food: Starting A Dinner Club by Carren W. Joye
Dinner clubs, also known as supper clubs or
gourmet clubs, can be so much fun! Not only do you spend a
child-free evening with good friends, but you also get a great meal
for less than it would cost to go out.
Consider these issues as you organize a dinner
club with your friends:
Agree on the purpose of the dinner club. Is
it to spend time with friends or to try new gourmet foods? The
objective will impact other aspects of your club.
Invite your friends, but not all of them!
The typical size is 8-12 members, or 4-6 couples. Keep in mind
the size of your friends’ dining tables, and don’t exceed
the seating space. Also, try to choose people who have similar
food interests, cooking skill levels as well as some things in
common so they will have something to talk about during the
Set a regular date in advance, such as the
second Saturday of the month, and designate the hosts for each
event. This way, all the couples will keep that night clear on
their calendars, and they will know when it is their turn to
host the club. Although most dinner clubs meet monthly, some
clubs opt for bi-monthly or quarterly, depending on which
schedule is more convenient for the members.
Decide how the menus will be planned. For
example, some clubs plan each monthly meal in advance as a
group, while others allow the host to plan the menu. Some clubs
encourage new cuisines or gourmet ingredients; others prefer
ethnic or seasonal themes.
Decide how the meals will be executed. For
example, some groups cook the entire meal together at the home
of the host. In this case, plan for a long evening! Other clubs
leave the host in charge of cooking the entire meal, which may
place a burden on time and money for the host each month. In
other clubs, each couple is responsible for one part of the
meal, bringing pre-cooked dishes to the host’s home – one
couple brings the appetizer, another brings the salad, the host
provides the entrée, and another couple brings the dessert.
Because each couple brings something to the club, no one is
exhausted, costs are minimal and dinners are not competitively
compared. In this case, you need to establish how many courses
will be served and how they will rotate among the members.
Other considerations may come to mind
that should be addressed at the beginning. Is budget a
consideration? If so, determine the limit. Will alcoholic
beverages be served? If so, you need to decide if everyone will
contribute alcohol to each meal or take turns. Also, will the
dinner club be formal or casual? Some clubs dress formally and
serve food on fine china and crystal; other groups are more
casual and relaxed. Still others let the host set the tone each
month. Another issue to consider is children. Let everyone know
from the beginning that children are not invited, so that each
couple will plan for a babysitter that night. Some clubs get
creative, however, and all the parents go in together on a
sitter for the children, usually at one of the couples' homes --
but not at the home of the host.
Finally, meet periodically at a local
restaurant to determine if the group is happy with how things
are going and if any changes need to be made. Use this time to
plan and schedule the next set of club dates, hosts and
Kick off the first dinner at your home.
Remember candles and music to go with the wonderful aromas from the
food. It will be the start of many months, or even years, of good
company and great food!
Joye is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to
Playgroups (ISBN 0-595-14684-8; $13.95). A homeschooling mom of four
children, she has founded five successful playgroups and helped
start countless other playgroups around the world. Visit her web
site at http://www.OnlinePlaygroup.com for more information about