The location: a Round Bay community dock on the Severn River in Maryland.
The guests: 80 neighbors each contributing a dish from a delicious menu.
The occasion: to gather and connect with the people who live around you.
It was a grueling winter. On that first day it felt like the cold was finally behind us, my neighbor and I were commiserating that we had not seen anyone in the neighborhood in months. Cooped up, busy with school activities and volunteer work, we were longing for the easy camaraderie of our small river community. That got the wheels turning… This is how we brought 80 neighbors together for a night to remember.
A handful of girlfriends and I got together to plan (wine may have been involved). We wanted to pull off a dinner that was different from the usual potluck down at our community beach. The point of the dinner was to connect and that meant sitting down to share a meal, not wander around juggling a plate and beverage in hand. The invitation went out for a sit down dinner requesting each guest bring a dish from a prepared menu. The response was overwhelming. Clearly we were on to something! Days before the event, a recipe from a carefully scripted menu was delivered on a platter to each guest that had responded to the invitation. That evening, guests arrived for a cocktail hour bearing their platters. Each guest felt they had contributed in a meaningful way. To dress up the dock, we lined tables with coordinating linens and rented plates, glasses and flatware to create a polished look and no one had to clean! Each table was set with platters of food served by our hostesses. The candles were lit and the guests sat down for an amazing meal with good friends. It was a beautiful evening made more so by the true feeling of community. And the best part? With a little pre-planning and a group of great hosts (and willing spouses), it was an easy party to pull off!
Here’s the menu (it was perfect because all dishes could be served at room temperature)
- Tuscan Lemon Chicken
- Roasted Vegetable and Orzo Salad
- Cherry Tomato and Green Bean Salad
- Crusty Bread