Whatever brought you together as friends, make sure you stay together by following these tips.

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With the coming of spring and warmer weather, many of us are pulling out the tablecloths, arranging flowers, and calling friends over for good food and conversation. Whether an impromptu pot of red beans and rice or a well-executed potluck, folks in the South know that breaking bread with others is the time-honored approach to cultivating new friendships and deepening old ones. Belonging to a supper club, which means you meet and dine with other members on a regular basis, is a strategic method that guarantees you won’t lose touch with your friends. Your club can be a group of college friends, your neighbors, or people who share a common interest.  However you came together, make sure you stay together by following these five secrets to a successful supper club.

What is the Right Number of People?

Eight is usually enough. It keeps the group intimate and is easier to fit the entire group around a table. However, a club should always be welcoming and hospitable to others (if not, then you are just a clique, right?), so never say NO to a guest or prospective new member.

Should You Have Assigned Seating?

Definitely, yes! Otherwise, one of two things will happen: couples will sit together, or your group will revert back to middle school days, where the girls sit with girls and the guys sit with guys. Mix up your guests, separate couples and close friends. Over time this gives all the members a chance to get to know each other.

Who Does The Cooking?

Whether one hostess cooks all of the food or people are assigned courses is up to each group. If it is your turn to host, you may opt for an outdoor cookout to simple homemade pizzas and salad. One thing is for sure: If you decide to host a potluck for supper club, ask each guest what they plan on cooking and then fill in the missing pieces. Otherwise, you will have three deviled egg trays and one pan of lasagna.

What About Picky Eaters?

It is both common sense and good manners to learn your club members’ dietary restrictions, but you don’t need to know their particular preferences. For instance, adapt your menu if you are feeding a vegetarian or diabetic, but don’t fret over whether someone likes green peas or not.

How Much is Too Much?

Don’t let your club fall into a rut – the key is all about frequency. A successful supper club usually meets seven times a year: January, February, April, May, August, September, and October. Take Spring Break and summer months off, and don’t even think about squeezing it in during the holidays. Thursday is usually a good night – not too busy and it gives you all week to prep. Of course, your own club will decide on the right frequency and weeknight according to the wishes and needs of the members.

So what are you waiting for? Call up some friends and start your own supper club. You may start with just 4 or 6 people at first, and talk about how often you want to meet, what day of the week, and how you will handle the menu.