Hosting Tips

Hosting an In-Person Gathering

Theme your dinnerCollapse

While Dinners for 12 Strangers is a theme on its own, many alumni are taking their dinner’s 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. As some dinner hosts have found, theme dinners can help young Bruins feel more relaxed while meeting alumni and faculty in an informal setting.

Some past themes have included:

Silly Socks, Beach BBQ, UCLA sports, and even industry focused.

Make sure to speak with your Student Alumni Association Representative if you are hosting a local student dinner and need help deciding on a theme and telling your guests prior to the dinners.


Dinner can be as casual as pizza and salad or as elaborate as a five course catered meal. As long as you cover the cost for the local student dinners, our students will be excited to enjoy a free meal away from campus.

If you are hosting an in-person alumni gathering you can also choose a pot-luck style type dinner if this is a better option for you, or coordinate a reservation at a local restaurant

Play an Icebreaker GameCollapse

“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.


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 themselves, they pull a question out of the container and answer.

Example Questions

  • 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?
  • 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?

Easy Get to Know You - Show and Tell

Ask guests to bring an item or object that means the most to them.

Have each guest go around and share a little bit about the item they brought and why it means so much to them.

Still stumped? Reach out to your Student Alumni Association Representative to help you brainstorm some additional games!

Post EventCollapse
Ask everyone if they would be comfortable sharing their information post-event. Then send an e-mail to all of those who said yes to keep the connections going past the dinner.

Hosting a Virtual Alumni Gathering

Plan Out Your IntroductionsCollapse
Prepare a few questions for everyone to answer including name, grad year, major, favorite place on campus.
Choose a Food Item / Recipe to CookCollapse

Encourage everyone to cook a certain kind of food / make one recipe to replicate being together and enjoying the same food (make sure not to make it too complicated or require spending too much money).

Incorporate Your Theme/Topic Throughout EventCollapse
Prepare questions or discussion topics related to your theme. If you would like guests to share in a similar experience make sure to let them know all details before the event.
Wrapping Up Your EventCollapse
Thank everyone for coming to your gathering – let people know that they can share contact information with one another if they feel comfortable. Connect with one another on LinkedIn / UCLAONE / social media.
Download UCLA Zoom BackgroundsCollapse
You can download Dinners for 12 Strangers-themed Zoom background images here.