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How often do we find that we are losing track of friends without enough time to spend together? It seems easy to say "maybe next month," "when I get that promotion," "when the kids are out of school," or any other myriad of excuses. The bottom line is if we don't make the time to celebrate our friends we won't have the time ever. It is all about committing to connect, and creating opportunities to make that happen. Be sure to involve everyone in the fun by asking them to bring a dish or other element. No one likes to show up at a party empty handed and it is easier if you specify what to bring.

Here are just a few ways you can celebrate your friends!

Savory Supper Club

This works well with couples or singles but is usually a kid free event. This can be a great way to get to know neighbors or other residents in a subdivision. Often it's location is rotated monthly between different homes in a neighborhood. A supper club can be very simply created with each couple or person bringing a dish each time, categories are designated to avoid duplicate dishes or too many salads or appetizers. It is a chance for comradery and fellowship particularly amongst those that live nearby.

The food preparation duties and expense are shared by all, as are the benefits of original recipes and home cooking. Clean up is usually light work with many hands, and everyone relaxes and has a good time.

Super Sporting Event

Make it a real mixed event with singles, couples, and kids if desired. It can be live or on TV. If live, plan a festive tailgate is to bring everyone together before the game. If televised set up a buffet for noshing during the game and it can be pot luck, with everyone bringing a dish. Stick with paper plates and plastic cups and flatware and clean up is a breeze.

Just Girl's/Guy's Night Out

This is Mars and Venus's chance to have some time to themselves with friends. Often a once a month regular event, sometimes once a week, this is a chance to connect with close gal pals or guy buddies and gossip, dish dirt, high five on successes, and commiserate on losses. It can be as easy as establishing a place to meet and regular date and time and everyone just shows up. Or it can rotate at private homes but needs to be understood that it is for just the girls or just the guys. We all share a little differently in mixed company! What is said with this crowd stays with this crowd.

Burning O' Your Troubles Bash

Usually I throw this one just after New Year's it is a great way to get the New Year off to a truly beneficial beginning. Again who you invite is up to you, generally this is reserved for adults only. You can make it potluck or provide the food yourself. Each person is to bring a listing of their last year's trials, tribulations, losses, and challenges. You have a fireplace or preferably an outdoor fire (bonfire or chimenaya works really well) and each gets a few minutes alone to literally burn their troubles. Then each party goer gets a New Year's cracker and that includes a paper crown which they then fill (some write these on the crown itself) proverbially with their hopes for the New Year and burn that as a toast to universal energy. I usually end the festivities with sparklers for everyone to have one last sizzle!

Oscar Party

This falls in early March so it is a great chance to catch up and celebrate with friends between New Year's and Memorial Day. It is a dressy function with costumes optional. You can download the ballot forms online and I encourage ordering party favors and prizes with a Hollywood theme, again online sources abound. Be sure to start it a little early so everyone can get comfortable mingle a bit and get a bite. Decorate with Oscar statuettes and lots of gold, silver and black. Go glam!

You'll usually have a handful of die hard movie fans that will be so intent on watching the awards that they won't really socialize and will shush folks that talk during the show! Having a friend play emcee if you don't want to do it can keep the party going with trivia questions and prizes. Everyone wants to win!

Be sure to check out Part II of this article for more great ways to celebrate your friends, including a Halloween Fright Night!

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