I really like themed events but am too shy to make my friends dress up in costume. So instead I make rules about what kind of food they can bring to my parties.
  1. The Meat-Up.
    55a32c72 4159 4be6 a9d9 71c901ac679d
    This one was explicitly for the omnivores. Folks brought all sorts of meaty appetizers (prosciutto and melon, meatballs, etc.) and I prepared David Chang's bo ssam; http://nyti.ms/1IE8xiQ
  2. The Pot Luxe.
    05d091a2 697c 4847 8d75 87bebd845e10
    The only rule for this one was that whatever people brought had to feel fancy to them. So some people pulled recipes from fancy cookbooks and others served low-fuss foods on really fancy dishes. I made Joel Robuchon's mashed potatoes because we only ever ate boxed mashed potatoes growing up and I always thought homemade were SO fancy. These were a heart attack in a bowl: http://bit.ly/1IE8zHk
  3. Meat-Free, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free...Hey Wait, Where's Everybody Going?
    De400579 af07 4bad 9d72 6457b143d5a4
    I wanted my friends with more severe dietary restrictions (both medical and ethical) to be able to join in, too. I made the ratatouille from Ottolenghi's Plenty: http://bit.ly/1E88zsP
  4. It Takes Stew to Make a Thing Go Right.
    87bbe990 5b7b 45a8 ad28 fad9a06c605b
    Pretty self-explanatory. Other people brought the bread and desserts and I fixed an enormous vat of Cooks Illustrated's beef stew, because Chicago winters demand it sometimes: http://bit.ly/1cC4JSZ
  5. Women Laughing Together With Salad.
    95f67f05 2851 4f5b 8fa8 13b4c9f2936a
    I always found the Women Laughing Alone With Salad meme to be hilarious, so when I had to put together a storytelling event for a class I was taking last spring, I came up with this title. Everyone brought a salad and a story to tell--some funny, some sad, all deeply personal. It was hands down my favorite party I've ever hosted. I made a salad that the chef I was dating at the time thought up. It was meh (so was he).
  6. Skill Swap.
    1f805f9a 4229 4155 a971 67b232e93042
    Technically this one hasn't happened yet. The title's a work in progress, but the goal is that, while folks eat, 4 attendees will take turns demonstrating a skill/life hack for the group. So far I have people who want to teach basic drumming skills, the proper technique for applying nail wraps, how to get out of a parking ticket, etc. And everyone leaves with a tangible item--a recipe card or sample or whatevs. I am still waiting for someone to offer to teach me how to get Haim hair.
  7. Who Moved My Cheese
    All dishes with unexpected cheese. Or served by Marsha Wooley.
    Suggested by @vp