Are you and your buddies big drinkers, but unclear about what to order? Well, try Alcoholic Secret Santa night. Meet up at a friend’s place and have everyone draw each other’s names from a hat upon arrival. Make sure that they know not to share the name of the person they drew because – DUH – that’ll spoil the surprise. From another hat, you could even have everyone choose the names of different drinks (for those who are libation-challenged). Then head over to your favorite bar or club. At the count of three, have everyone flock to the bartender, order his or her assigned drink and then head over to their assigned person to present them with the beverage of the night. This is a great way to encourage friends to mingle. It ensures that everyone gets a drink – not just the pretty folks and will open up a dialogue among your crew about what tastes good and what’s ICKY. But the best part of all is that you’ve now created an instant party and the most anyone will have to pay is $8.

If you and your buddies are anything like me and mine, you’re probably all huge foodies. My East Coast crew is made up of notorious eaters (most of them have top-notch tastes). But sometimes the economy can dictate how much fun eating one can do. If you know that you’ve got a big night on the town planned, and you know you like to do a little noshing before hitting the clubs but money’s tight, then try the Gourmet Party Platter. Instead of heading to McDonald’s or Del Taco, pop into that fancy pants restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. Since it’s you and your friends, you’ll be able to split something evenly. Take a look at the menu and settle on a nice entree that has a protein, a starch and plenty of vegetables, then order it. Just one. When it arrives, you and your friends can all dig in and enjoy a quick bite to eat for the same price (after splitting the tab) as any heat-lamped dollar menu meal. It’ll also give you the chance to chat and solidify the game plan for the night.

A few years back, this girl I knew invited me to a club in Culver City that held iPod parties. Now, truth be told: Sometimes I think I live in the Stone Age, so at the time, I didn’t have an iPod and wasn’t about to buy one to fit in. But now, I’m all teched out with my iPod Touch and think this would be a great way to make friends. E-mail the crew for a quick party at your place. On the Evite make sure you let everyone know that they MUST bring their iPod or MP3 player. Invest in some chips and a couple of bottles of whatever and let the music inspire the evening. Just plug each into your speakers and dance, dance, dance.

One of my favorite things to get when I was a kid was a gag gift. I’m a big joker, so receiving totally random presents from friends of mine was always a hysterical way to bond with them. It also opens a window to how crazy your buddies really are. Set up a get together in which you gift your invitees with bizarre items that will make them laugh or roll their eyes. Need inspiration? The trusty 99 Cents Only store is ground zero for unique, little items. Why, its toy section alone is a treasure trove of strangeness. Make sure that guests know they need to bring a silly item, gift-wrapped, of course, and midway through the night you can raffle off each of the presents.

Finally, for those of you who LOVE movies, try throwing your own in-house film festival. Let’s say the Star Wars movies are your thing. You could rent the entire series and show the films in order, then midway through, either hold a trivia Q & A at intermission, or raffle off some fun memorabilia inspired by the film. The same can be done for Harry Potter, “Sex and the City” or even “The Office.”