In almost every corner of the world, coming together and sharing a meal is one of the most communal and binding traditions. Food is a wonderful way to bring people together, to forge friendships, and to even save money while having an enjoyable social experience. But if the thought of hosting a formal dinner party seems daunting, rest assured that there are other ways to share food with friends and colleagues.

The following list, curated by Katherine Martinko from Treehugger, contains suggestions for food-based gatherings, both at home and at the workplace:

  1. Start a soup club. This works best at a workplace where everyone takes a lunch break. People sign up, choosing a day when they’re responsible for making a pot of homemade soup. They bring it in for everyone to share. Benefits include saving money (getting 9 free lunches), less waste (no takeout containers), and it’s also a great chance to try out new recipes.
  2. Start a salad bar. It’s like a fresh salad bar at your workplace. Each week, people take turns bringing greens and homemade or store-bought dressing. This is a great way to use up stuff in your fridge.
  3. Host ‘Friday Night Meatballs’. You cook up a pot of spaghetti and meatballs every Friday and invite the first eight guests who respond on Facebook. The point is to spend more time with those close to you or even get to know new people.
  4. Embrace the ‘Crappy Dinner Party’ philosophy. There are a few rules that make a dinner party ‘crappy’, although, in reality, it’s probably anything but! These are: (1) No housework done prior to guests’ arrival, (2) Make a simple menu with no special grocery shopping, (3) You must wear whatever you happen to have on, and (4) No hostess gifts. The idea is to make food-based gatherings more accessible and common, without any of the stress that often accompanies them.
  5. Start a food circle. This is a group of people who prepare food for people in need, whether they’re sick, overly busy, just had a baby, grieving a loss, or struggling with health.

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