One of my biggest party pet peeves is when people do not mingle. Come on! You can see your buds anytime, but a party is a great chance to get to know new folks or re-connect with acquaintances. You absolutely never know who you might hit it off with unless you engage. Here are some ways to break up your friends’ cliques and get conversations flowing:
 Introduce people. As the host of the party you know details about all your guests. Make sure to connect those with something in common by introducing them and stating the commonality. For instance, Jude, you have to meet Liz, she is the best Italian cook. Liz, Jude just did a cooking class in Italy. Think about who will get along with who as you create your guest list and be a matchmaker.
 Cram lots of people into a small space. Guests have no choice but to engage in conversation when in close quarters. It’s an easy way for people to horn in on a conversation, and add their two cents. Or just be a great listener.
 Set up an activity or contest. I love when a party has an added focus. At a New Year’s Eve party, I asked my Austrian friends to bring a traditional game, in which you melted a small trinket at midnight, and tossed it into ice water. Whatever shape it took predicted the year ahead. Everyone was excited, sitting close together, and exchanging predictions. Total fun. If you have creative people in your crowd, why not have an Easter egg painting contest or pumpkin carving competition. Wine tastings set up as blind tastings allow guests to have fun guessing and discussing their choices and preferences. Have the wine in a carafe, and pieces of paper to list guesses. Sports like horseshoes, darts, or croquet get participants and spectators alike.
 Lastly, as a guest, make sure to introduce yourself to any new faces in the crowd. Your host will thank you.