Holiday dinner with strangers

Sometimes it’s the small contributions that make a big impact. So this holiday season I’m responding to a request from my alma mater, the University of Toronto.

Requests from UofT

In a recent e-newsletter I saw 2 small requests as I scrolled to the bottom of the email. One from the International Students Centre asking for holiday hosts – folks who would open up their holiday festivities to some of the international students that remain on campus during the holidays.

“Help make this a happy holiday for a U of T international student”

The other was an intriguing initiative from the Alumni Office called Dinner with 12 Strangers. Requesting “Toronto-area grads to host an informal dinner party for a small group of students, as well as faculty, alumni and other members of the university community.”

“The premise: sit down to dinner with 12 strangers; get up with 12 new friends”

Cindy’s Holiday Dinner with 30 Strangers

So, in my endless quest for efficiencies, I combined the 2 programs with the full support of both groups at UofT and am hosting my own holiday dinner with 30 strangers – a combination of international students, a cross section of students interested in dining with strangers, a few alumni and other members of the UofT community, and a couple of my pals.

It’s a chance to share the Canadian holiday experience (or at least my version of it), exchange stories, make new connections and enjoy a good meal. It offsets the loneliness of the holiday season and makes the world a little smaller.

Check out your alma mater

The holiday hosting program has been in place for 30 years and the Dinner with 12 strangers happens throughout the year. Both programs as well established and well run. If you’re looking for a small way to make a big impact, check out what’s available at your school – the gift back will be greater than you can imagine.

  1. Donna T. said:

    What a great idea! Giving back and also meeting new people. Cheers!!

  2. Paulina said:

    Dinner was amazing. The food, and the company made for a thoroughly enjoyable time. Thank you so much for hosting, and for giving me my first taste of bread pudding! 😀

  3. cindyrp said:

    Here’s the post party report:

    – It was amazing. So many inspired and inspiring folks. Real thinkers and nice people.
    – The students came from many areas of study from anthropology to engineering, all levels from first year to PhD and alumni. It was like having a bit of Toronto in my home – they came from everywhere including here.
    – The buzz of conversation started when the students arrived and didn’t stop until they piled into taxis to leave.
    – I believe we achieved some goals: meeting new people, making new friends, getting some advice, practicing the art of a Canadian conversation and enjoying a holiday experience.

    A note of extreme thanks to my co-hosts and co-chef. I couldn’t have pulled it off with near the success without a team of pals to help enhance conversations, keep my small house clear and ensure I didn’t burn the bread pudding.

    This may become a new holiday tradition in my house.


  4. Joselin said:


    So, you are gonna have 2 parties for Xmas in the future? Great! i’m in! 🙂

    Thank you! It was awesome! So proud to be Canadian and share the knowledge of everyone in the room. (Not to mention that everyone else spoke english better than me!! lol)

    I was really surprised that everyone was communicating, and I didn’t have to say much as they really engaged their conversations. For sure not shyness in the new generations to come!

    Cindy, thank you for letting me be a part of this. To the other co-hosts, i’m sure i’ll seen you again! 🙂

    See you soon!!! \o/\o/\o/

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