January is perfect for this cozy, low-key get together. Plus? SOUP.

It’s cold out. Like, really darn cold. This is no time for salads and small plates; this winter weather calls for one thing and one thing only: soup. Think beyond that chicken noodle recipe by hosting a soup swap—we’ll tell you how.

What’s a Soup Swap?

Also known as one of the easiest parties to host, a soup swap is when you gather a few of your closest (and maybe most culinary) friends, asking them to come armed with a few quarts of their favorite homemade soup. After sampling each other’s concoctions, you’ll trade take-home helpings. Voilà! Soup has been swapped and you’re a host extraordinaire.

Invite (and Explain)

Set the casual tone for the party with an equally low-key invitation. Facebook or email suffices, and two weeks’ notice is plenty. Aim to invite at least six people to ensure a variety of stews and stocks.

What to Bring

Be sure to explain the premise of the event to your friends so they know to bring enough soup to sample AND send home with other guests. Include this sample checklist in your invitation:

  • At least 6 quarts of refrigerated or frozen soup (this can vary a bit—you should leave with the same amount you brought)
  • Separate containers that you don’t mind parting with
  • One container of soup to be used for tasting

Prep Your House

What does soup do? It drips. Make cleanup a breeze by lining your tables with butcher paper. Set out beverages (water is a must for any tasting event) and any other appetizers you’d like to serve, along with sampling cups (small mason jars work well). For bonus points, pair each tasting cup with a piece of crusty bread. For the first hour or so, simply enjoy the snacks and drinks, welcome guests, and encourage everyone to mingle and taste the soups.

Let the Games Begin

Put a number in a bowl for every person who brought soup, then ask everyone to draw a number: This is the order that the soups will be chosen. Before the selecting starts, invite your guests to tell the tale of their soup—where the recipe is from, any unique ingredients, why it is the best soup ever. Now, the person who drew No. 1 selects their first soup, then No. 2, etc., until everyone has one soup. It starts over with the first person, until all the soups are distributed.