How to coordinate a communal dinner for 12


The men’s group at my church gets together once a month and shares a meal. Usually about 12 -15 men attend. Typically each person brings something to bar-b-que and others volunteer to bring appetizers, side dishes, dessert and lots of wine.

We’d like to move away from the individual preparation and get everyone working in the kitchen to prepare a great meal. The problem is that we don’t know which dishes would work well to prepare communally.

Also, we’re trying to figure out how best to organize our efforts. One idea is to create a menu then ask people to take responsibility for making a specific dish based on a recipe that we send them.

Please give us advice on how to coordinate the meal. We have a Yahoo user group and we communicate via email with everyone to figure out how many will attend and who’ll bring what.

Yours seeking guidance,


Re: How to coordinate a communal dinner for 12

I often set-up dinner events, even small ones, by delegating “tasks”. Even in a small kitchen, where everyone wants to be, it lets people help without getting in the way of the chef. It is always a blast and everyone helps contribute to the meal.

Plan and agree on a menu (the more complicated the better!) and post it on the refrigerator. Choose a “Chef” (it can be more than one). I then set up “prep stations” that usually consist of the equipment and ingredients needed to complete the task (i.e., knife, cutting board, ingredients, etc.), a 3x5 card explaining how to complete the “task”, and a glass for wine or beer. To make it more fun, place the “station” names and team members on pieces of paper and draw from hat to see who and what one will be doing.

Here is how it usually works. 1. Music is selected and played. 2. The wine or beer is poured. 4. Don the Aprons. 5. The “stations” are first set-up for dessert. The dessert is usually prepared first because it usually takes the longest and often needs time to set. 6. The “stations” are choosen or dealt new “task” cards and the group starts preparing for main and sides. 7. When all the ingredients are collected from the “stations”, they are prepared into the finished product and plated to take to the table. 8. Sit at the table and enjoy!

You’ll often be amazed by the conversations, things you didn’t know about people, taste in music, and you just might even pick up a few cooking tips.

Re: How to coordinate a communal dinner for 12


Those are some great suggestions. I am going to use them for Thanksgiving. Inevitably I have too many people chatting in the kitchen and getting in the way. Then when someone offers to help, I’m too crazed to take the time to find anything meaningful to do. But your cards are not only a great way for the chef to get organized, but are also a great way to fold the willing guests into the preparation.

Re: How to coordinate a communal dinner for 12

John, the cards are a great idea. Do you know where I can get some already made?

I’m not so handy in the kitchen and want to learn how to cook. If I could get some pre-made cards with recipes and instructions, I could shuffle the deck and “deal the meal” - if you know what I mean.

I wonder if some aspiring entrepreneur has developed the “Let’s make a dinner” game. Maybe Greatgrub.com could distribute it.

Thanks for the suggestion and let me know.