Is your party guest list running on repeat? Join the club. No, really. A group of pals from Brooklyn, New York, were looking for an excuse to make new friends, so they started a home supper club and pledged to keep the invitees interesting. Now, once a month, they ask friendly faces like local shopkeepers and neighbors to meet over a multicourse meal that has everyone begging for seconds -- and an invite back.
BREAK THE ICE
Let diners choose their own spots at the table and switch it up as the night goes on. To help spark conversation, leave a quirky knicknack on each place setting -- discussing who got what should get them chatting.
START THINGS RIGHT
Leave a few open bottles of wine or champagne -- or a tray of Sparkling Bourbon Cocktails -- on a table in the amin mingling area. A help-yourself bar immediately sets the vibe; no fussy formalities here!
Invite your friends with plus-ones, but ask that their guests be people you've never met before. Everyone will be more at ease if they have one familiar buddy in the room. Bonus: You can leave the obligatory introductions to your guest-toting friends.
Remember your favorite acquaintances -- neighbors you meet while walking the dog, a co-worker you debate American Idol with by the printer, the lady who always makes you laugh at the gym. Next time you bump into each other, go ahead and extend an invite.
Use social media to be, well, more social. Find a friend on Facebook whom you haven't chatted with (away from a computer) in a while and ask them to catch up in person. Even if it's been months or years since your last meeting, reconnecting may spark great conversation.
START A SUPPER CLUB
Set some dates. The building blocks for your first dinner: the empty boxes on your calendar! Have the group decide on a regular meeting time -- every other month is a manageable pace -- and a night of the week that suits everyone.
Pick a location. Chances are you'll want to take turns visiting each other's homes. (This way no one is committed to always preparing their place for guests.) Let members pick their evenings -- or leave it up to chance by pulling dates out of a hat.
Consider a theme. Choose a type of food, and let the decor and festivities follow suit. Or pull inspiration from your surroundings.
Share the work. Divvy up the hosting duties based on your interests and skills -- but come together for the fun stuff.
Toss out some teasers. Send an e-mail a week before with a list of dishes and activities planned for the night."