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Consider this delightful idea for the inaugural meeting of your supper club. Give guests take-home containers they can use time after time.

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Simple Supper Club
At this dinner party, the host prepares only one dish and leftovers are the party favors - what could be easier?

Much simpler than a classic dinner party, yet a step above traditional potluck: Gather the girls (or the guys) once a month for a super-fun supper.

The Premise
It’s the perfect idea for friends with busy schedules: Once a month (if that’s too taxing on everyone’s time, make it quarterly instead) “club” members take turns playing host at their homes. Each person prepares just one dish and the duties rotate, so even if you are in charge of the main course one time (a fitting assignment for that month’s host), you may be responsible for simply bringing beverages the next. And having leftovers is a bonus; guests can take them home and enjoy one or two more days of delicious and diverse dinners.

The Guests
The supper club can be any size you like— seven or eight people works well, but that can vary depending on your social circle. The goal is to have dedicated participants, so everyone has a chance to host. You’ll also want at least enough people to cover a good mix of courses, from appetizers to dessert. Be sure to let others in the group know of any food allergies or major dietary restrictions. You shouldn’t have to make a vegetarian version of each dish to suit one member’s taste, but you want everyone to have at least a couple of dishes they can enjoy.

The Menu
No need to stick to a theme or worry about main dishes coordinating with sides. Let people bring whatever they like—a hodgepodge is more surprising and exciting. That said, the person preparing the main dish may want to let others know what key ingredient they’re using so you don’t end up with shrimp in the appetizer, salad, entrée and side dish. Keep things interesting by trying a new recipe each time - within reason, of course. You don’t have to break out the osso buco, but why not prepare a familiar ingredient (salmon, chicken or tomatoes) in a different way? Your dinnermates will probably forgive you if it’s not perfect. Besides, you always have next month to redeem yourself. It’s a nice touch to print out or photocopy the recipe for other club members—just in case your experiment is a colossal hit!

Supper Club Countdown

Here’s a timeline for when it’s your turn to host.

  • One month before:
    • Send out an email with the date, dish assignments (appetizer, salad, side dish, dessert) and location details.
    • Search cookbooks, magazines or the Internet and decide what dish you will prepare.

  • Two or three weeks before:
    • Notify dinner mates of the main dish’s key ingredient to avoid too much overlap.

  • One week before:
    • Buy take-home containers; tie up in pretty bundles.
    • Create a music playlist for the party; load onto your MP3 player or burn a CD.

  • Two days before:
    • Go to the grocery store.

  • The night before:
    • Prepare your dish. If you can’t cook it ahead of time, do other prep work, like dicing vegetables.
    • Set the table; arrange take-home containers on a tray.
    • Set out glasses, platters, utensils and other items used for serving.

  • One or two hours before:
    • Cook your dish according to the recipe.
    • Relax