Tips for Starting Your Own Dinner Club

Have you ever noticed that one of the best ways to reconnect and catch up with people you haven’t spoken with for a length of time is to sit down with them and share a meal together? Watch any show on television about families and you will see, in almost every episode, a scene where they are gathered around the dinner table, or in the kitchen at the very least.

The dinner table has long been a place for family and friends to gather and share stories, catch up and reconnect. While this is usually easy for families, it may not be as easy for friends. But friends who are part of a Dinner Club together have a reason, once a week, to gather around the dinner table and reconnect over (hopefully) great food.

A Dinner Club has been compared to a Book Club in that people come together once a week (or however frequently the group chooses to meet) and have a discussion. The difference is that in a Book Club, participants discuss books. In a Dinner Club, the participants discuss anything and everything that is of interest to them, including books.

There is a lot of wiggle-room in starting your own Dinner Club, but the basic principle is that each week friends, neighbors and/or family members get together at a member’s home and eat dinner. It may be always at one member’s home and it may be the home of the “chef” of the week. They share the recipe with each of the members and then everyone goes home and prepares the dinner for their families. The following week, they reconnect and tell how the dinner turned out when they attempted it: Did they follow the recipe exactly but it didn’t taste quite the same? Did they alter the recipe to suit their own tastes? Did their families enjoy it and now want it on the regular “menu?”

Beyond the basic structure of a Dinner Club, you can work it to fit the individual personalities of your group. If you are working with a small group of four or five, you can set up a monthly theme; in January everyone prepares a different soup, or maybe “comfort foods,” in February, you could try “date meals” in celebration of St. Valentine’s Day (the theme idea works for a larger group as well but it may have to be done in quarters or whatever works so that everyone gets a chance to try their hand at the theme).

If you are working with a group made up of people who like to eat but are not necessarily expert, or even mediocre, chefs, you could set up your dinner club to eat out at a restaurant of each person’s choice once a week. Or even if two or three people enjoy cooking but the other two don’t, the ones who don’t cook can suggest a new establishment each time their turn comes around.

You can also set up a full three or four course meal, with each person bringing a different course each week. For example, the first week, Sally hosts the party and prepares the main course and Jim brings the appetizers, Mary brings dessert and Bob provides beverages, then the next week, Jim will host and everyone else will bring something different.

The possibilities are endless, as there are no set rules for how a Dinner Club should be run. As long as you incorporate getting together and sharing dinner, you can call yourselves a Dinner Club.

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