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Hosting Tips

Consider a Theme

While Dinners for 12 Strangers is a theme on its own, many alumni are taking their dinners one step further, giving a second theme to the gathering of UCLA students, alumni, and professors.

The annual dinners give Bruins of every generation the chance to unite for a fantastic dinner, whether home-cooked or picked up at a local store. (Not being able to cook isn’t an excuse!) As some dinner hosts have found, theme dinners can help young Bruins feel more relaxed while meeting alumni and faculty in an informal setting.

There are several ways to spin a themed dinner. General themes, ethnic food themes and career interest themes are the most common takes on the dinners.
Dinner Themes

Play an Icebreaker Game

“Two Truths and One Lie”
Each person takes a turn at introducing him/herself and then tells the rest of the guests three “facts” about themselves. Two of them are true and the third is a lie. The guests have to guess which “fact” is a lie.
Example
Hi, my name is Joe Bruin and…

  • I’ve stood in the center of the Rose Bowl and led a UCLA eight-clap for the entire stadium at halftime.
  • I’ve met President Clinton.
  • I’ve never received a parking ticket on campus.

The guests unanimously guess correctly that the parking ticket scenario MUST be the lie. No one has ever studied or worked on campus and escaped the long arm of the UCLA parking office!

“I Want to Know”
Ask each guest to write down a question that they would like someone else to answer. The questions should be the type that would provide insight about an individual’s personality, tastes, values, etc. The host collects the questions and puts them in a container that is passed around the room. Then, as each guest introduces him/herself, s/he pulls a question out of the container that s/he has to answer.
Example

  • When and why did you decide that you wanted to attend UCLA?
  • What was your most memorable UCLA experience?
  • Have you ever had a brush with a celebrity?
  • Have you ever been on TV?
  • If you could go back in time and make one decision differently, what would it be?
  • If you could have lunch with anybody, living or dead, real or imaginary, who would it be?
  • If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

“Celebrity”
This game can be played after dinner if time allows. Using scraps of paper, each individual writes down the names of 10-15 well-known figures. The assortment of names is put in a container.

The group is then divided into two teams. The first team selects one of their members to take a turn. S/he picks a piece of paper out of the container and tries to make his/her teammates guess the identity of the person whose name is on the paper. When his/her teammates have guessed correctly, s/he picks another piece of paper, describes the person, the other teammates make their guesses, and the process continues until a minute has elapsed.

At that point, the number of people that have been identified by the team equals the number of points the team earns. The second team then selects a teammate to take his/her turn, until all the players on both teams have had one time “at bat.” The team with the most points at the end is the winner.

Easy Get to Know You

This simply requires a few pens and paper.

Write questions on paper and have each guest draw one – have each person or every person answer the questions.

Sample: What is one easy thing about being a Bruin and one hard thing?

Other Details

  • Dinners usually last two to three hours.
  • Remember to ask your guests to check in so that you can provide an attendance list to the Alumni Association after your dinner.
  • Take pictures of your dinner and e-mail them to dinners@alumni.ucla.edu.
  • Your guests will come dressed in a wide range of attire, from “business casual” to “Bruin wear.”
  • Most hosts hold a short “social hour” before dinner. This enables guests to meet one another while waiting for everyone to arrive. Beverages and hors d’oeuvres (cheese and crackers, vegetable dip, etc.) are usually served.
  • Although you may prepare a gourmet meal if you choose, a simple, buffet-style dinner will be equally appreciated.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t have a table large enough to accommodate your guests. At many dinners, guests sit on chairs in the living room and balance their plates on their laps.