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Party On!

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In the 1989 film When Harry Met Sally ... , one of the characters is attributed with the saying, "Restaurants are to people in the '80s what theater was to people in the '60s." I propose that dinner parties are to people in the 'aughts what dining out was to the '80s. Not that parties ever went out of style, and not that dining out isn't still the height of chic luxury, but as David Auerbach points out in his column this issue, magazines like Martha Stewart's Living and catalogs like Pottery Barn's seem to reflect that we are infatuated with entertaining for friends. Perhaps they're creating a market for more stuff you'll only use once and have to buy new next time you go to pull it out. But there's no denying the desire to throw a good party now and again; it begins somewhere in high school. Maybe it's the combination of theater, dining out and throwing a good party that makes dinner parties so irresistable now. Feeling all kinds of peer pressure? Hey, you're not cool if you're not throwing a party. Don't worry. We've got tips from our own food gurus Sharon Kebschull Barrett and David Auerbach and chatter from fabulous local chefs about what they'd bring to a potluck if you were lucky enough to have them for friends. Plus, Cheryl Loucks brings us a heartwarming tale of a method party put into good practice: progressive dinners.

Now all you need are a few dozen plates, five strings of tiny paper lanterns ...

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