Got any good conversation starters?

2 months ago

I'm dreading any talk of politics around the table this Thanksgiving. My plan is to make a table decoration that includes a lot of little pieces of paper with conversational questions. (Example -- What's the most enjoyable movie you've seen lately? If you could go back to school and study something different, what would it be and why? What superpower would you choose?) Then, when the conversation turns to something that starts with T that is not Thanksgiving, we'll pull out a question and change the topic. Any fun suggestions for questions?

Comments (41)

  • georgysmom2

    What was your first car? For couples, how did you meet.....what was your first impression?

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  • skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

    What was the best joke you ever heard? Or maybe, tell us about the time you laughed the hardest.

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  • Fun2BHere

    What's your earliest memory?

    What's the best material gift you ever received?

    Who influenced your life the most and why?

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  • Lucille

    Most recent annoying experience at a store.

    Most aggravating /funniest robocall received

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  • sheilajoyce_gw

    I love to hear how a couple first met, and how that developed into dating. I asked that question at a table of 10 awkwardly combined women, mostly, and it gave us a delightful hour of discussions.

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  • ravencajun Zone 8b TX

    What has been your biggest challenge, and what has been your greatest success?

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  • blfenton

    What's on your bucket list

    favourite animal and why

    favourite movie

    which movie have you watched the most times

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  • Annie Deighnaugh

    What's your favorite way to spend a day?

    What was your best vacation?

    What food do you hate? Love?

    What animal would you never have as a pet?

    Share a memory of someone who has passed.

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  • skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

    If you could interview anyone famous, (living or not) who and what would you ask them?

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  • rob333 (zone 7a)

    My most fun was when I first met my husband's (now ex) family and I asked them all to tell me all their best "Tom" stories. His name isn't Tom. It was sort of a little roast and it was fun for everyone to remember. Might now work, but there it is.

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  • DawnInCal

    I just happen to have a game that includes ice breaker conversational topics. Some of them are:

    Tell about something unusual you did in the last week.

    Name a special gift that you gave and one that you received.

    What's the first thing you'd do if you won a million dollars.

    Name two rivers in America (or place of your choosing).

    Share two things about yourself that no one knows.

    Share three things you are good at.

    Name a favorite family activity.

    Tell about a favorite teacher and why they were a favorite.

    What's the funniest thing you saw this week?

    Say three nice things about the person to your right (go around the table).

    Name three super powers you'd like to have. Let your family give you a super hero's name or make one up.

    What would you bring to the perfect family picnic?

    Everyone name the food they ate for dinner two nights ago.

    Share one of your favorite family vacations.

    Share a favorite family memory.

    Best of luck to everyone in keeping the conversations around the Thanksgiving table civil this year!

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  • eld6161

    Jup, I so hear you about politics. We are heading to a dinner with a roomful of many people we will be meeting for the first time.

    Sending this out to the universe: Please no political discussions!

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  • bob_cville

    Or drawing on a topic that was here not too long ago.

    • What is the worst place you've ever lived ?

    Although thinking about it now while my answer would be the one I posted here about living for a short time like a troll in a dank, dark, dirty, dusty basement, others might use it an an entry point to a political discussion.

    "The worst place we ever lived used to be wonderful until <lengthy racist rant> <segue to lengthy political screed> "

    followed by <opened jawed silence........> and "Get out of my house."

    So maybe not.

    For us neither of our families are coming over, and we didn't feel like traveling to see them so we will have a somewhat diverse group of recent friends, including a friend of a friend who has lived in Africa for 27 years studying forest elephants.

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  • DawnInCal

    Ha, bob! When I was typing my list of topics, was thinking that just about any of them could turn into some sort of rant. Not even the weather is a safe topic anymore.

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  • nicole___

    Note: When asked "What's your favorite movie and why?" back fired. I would ditch that one. lol

    I said I like action packed movies with humor, like "Scorpion King". In the first three minutes a barbarian man is standing there, observing the night in silence....and suddenly a ninja star is stuck in his forehead and he falls over dead. So FUNNY! GREAT movie. The woman across the table told me how SICK I was and what a mess I was. She lives two houses down.... won't so much as wave at me. :0)

    Dawn....so true!

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  • blfenton

    I would not ask who influenced your life the most and why. That's asking for controversy, what if someone says t. ,or God or Jesus.

    It's too bad that we now see controversy in the simplest of things.

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  • patriciae_gw

    I think it is the way it has always been.

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  • Raye Smith

    We always went around the table with the "what are you thankful to God for from this year" question. It is the day set aside to thank God for His blessings.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    Raye, one can be thankful and grateful without any mention of a supreme being.

    jupidupi, your home/your rules. You should be able to, with good humor, nip that conversation the second it starts. "Oops, no politics today! That's what we will all be grateful for!"

    Here's a BIG problem: a couple of years ago I invited a new friend to our annual holiday cocktail party. I had met the woman in my yoga and aquatic classes and we hit it off immediately. I met her husband for the first time when they came to the party. He was wearing a firearm and it wasn't very concealed.

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  • lily316

    Good ideas here. We won't talk politics because it's unanimous. Everyone in our family hates trump and at the daughter's house, we aren't allowed to mention his name and that's where the dinner is.

  • amylou321

    I have one sister who enjoys debating politics. She has EXTREME views and is very unpleasant in her utter joy in spewing them, almost as if she wants to irritate everyone. At our last family event, she randomly brought up how she knows some people who shouldn't vote, then looked at me and said "AMY!" Um, no one was talking about voting. No one was talking about anything that would lead up to that.

    So, I can only conclude that she wanted to either start a fight or hurt my feelings. Its like shes never met me at all! I. AM. UNBOTHERED. Everyone just ignores her when she starts that and just carries on normal conversation. If she persists, as she often does, someone, usually (always) me, will say, "Hey, you're right. You're right about everything. Can we move on now?" Or sometimes someone will just say, "Can you NOT do that right now?"

    I honestly do not think ice breaker type things like that work. It is kind of against the natural flow of conversation. BUT, if you want a nice game type thing, I am reminded of something one of my teachers did in middle school. One by one, we were called to the front of the classroom. Then everyone in the class wrote what they liked about that person on a slip of paper. The slips of paper for each person were put in an envelope, and later in the week, they were read aloud. Then we all got our envelope with all those nice notes to keep at the end of the year. They were anonymous, so you we didn't know who said what, and i think that is better. No pressure, no one is put on the spot. You can have people do that before dinner for each person, and if conversation lags or starts to turn ugly, whip out an envelope and start reading. And then give them to them to take home. I enjoyed reading mine well past high school.

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  • socks

    I think a question or two will loosen things up and the conversation will naturally flow. You don’t want it to feel like elementary school. May be better to start with a statement: “I was reminded of our favorite vacation the other day blah blah blah.” Others will chime in.

    Even if everyone at the table is in agreement about our political situation, it’s a difficult topic these days. In my daily interaction with people, I find most people are not wanting to discuss politics. People are very, very careful about what they say.

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  • whatsayyou18

    We were recently at a small gathering for a 101st b/day celebration with the guest of honor and her two siblings, both in their 90's. I asked them to share some memories from their childhood. They LOVED it and the conversation never veered from that topic. I was later thanked many times over for starting that as it likely would have been a snooze fest otherwise.

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  • bob_cville

    > I met her husband for the first time when they came to the party. He was wearing a firearm and it wasn't very concealed.

    Wow. My response would have likely been: "Go back to your car and lock that in the glove box or go back to your car and simply leave."

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  • chisue

    Along these lines:

    In today's Agony Aunt column someone brought up how to avoid answering when asked, "What do you do?" A reader wrote in that her boss, a psychiatrist, suggested replying, "About what?"

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  • Michael

    Wow. My response would have likely been: "Go back to your car and lock that in the glove box or go back to your car and simply leave."

    And he puts the weapon in your face and tells you to mind your own damn business.

    Then what?

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  • Olychick

    Then you call the police.

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  • Michael

    It's probably not smart to be brave with someone who carries a gun to Thanksgiving dinner unless he's the one holding the turkey. :)

  • Olychick

    Yup; he IS the turkey, lol!

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    I'm glad that I was the one who answered the door that night, my sweet husband isn't as charming as I am, lol! I hugged his wife then put my hand out to shake his. I kept a tight hold of his hand, and pulled him a little closer. I told him that I was happy to finally meet him, but that I wasn't going to let him wander around my house with a gun strapped around his waist. "Let's go put it in our gun safe right now."

    That's exactly what we did and he actually turned out to be a relatively normal person, for a NASA engineer.

    If he had hesitated about locking up his gun, I would have asked him to leave.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    bifenton, someone responding like that is more than welcome at my home. As a matter of fact, at my neighborhood T-day dinner in our home, I always ask if anyone would like to share a prayer.

    I honestly don't know anyone who would say that any political figure influenced their life above all others in their life. I mean, how shallow is that?

  • Michael

    rhizo, I expected you would have handled it appropriately, instead of immediately judging him as a "bad person" because he has a CCL. Thank you.

  • Raye Smith

    So why do you have a problem that someone carries a weapon? I've had friends that are police officers, they are REQUIRED to carry their firearms at all times. Doesn't bother me one bit. On many sunny days here you can hear a neighbor or two enjoying shooting practice.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

    I don't particularly have a problem with someone carrying a firearm. However, this was a private party, in my home, with many other people in attendance. It's a dressy holiday event. This man is not a law enforcement officer.

    But, Raye.....it's really not your business one way or another. Much like religion and politics, gun control is not a topic that should be forced upon others at a friendly social event.

  • jupidupi

    Thanks for all of the great suggestions. Todays news is full of this exact topic. I guess I'm not the only one planning in advance for avoid a topic that gives me indigestion..

  • bob_cville

    > And he puts the weapon in your face and tells you to mind your own damn business.

    Then what?

    As Olychick suggested I would then say "Get out of my house" and dial 911. If he refused to comply, immediately, I would press for every charge to be filed against him, including trespassing, menacing and assault.

    If someone is so terrified of everything that they cannot go out into the world around them without carrying their safety-blanket-gun around with them, then perhaps they should stay home. And if, as in the hypothetical scenario presented above, they feel that it is a reasonable response to pull the weapon out and threaten someone, in their own house no less, then that is proof that they should not be allowed to possess, carry, or even touch a gun.

  • bob_cville

    The friend of a friend who is coming today for Thanksgiving who worked with elephants in Africa said her favorite pies are sweet potato pie or rhubarb. I happen to not like sweet potato pie so I made a raspberry-rhubarb pie and then because I had a little of the crust left over, I decorated the top of the pie like this:

    I hope that works as a conversation starter in a good way. I realized this morning that there will be no way to cut the pie without cutting the elephant decoration to pieces as well.

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  • Raye Smith

    So I can't ask why someone would have a problem with another carrying a gun or mention God at Thanksgiving??? Come to my house and you can talk about your firearms and God all you like, I and my friends would enjoy the conversation.

  • Judy Good

    jupidupi Did you succeed to steer away from politics'?

  • jupidupi

    It turned out to ba a politics-free dinner. I only needed to steer the conversation once. Today is a different Thanksgiving dinner at a different home and I am bringing my box of questions just in case.

  • roxanna7

    Raye ^^^^ your house, your choice. However, the OP, I believe, was to be able to avoid possible fraught conversations that would be unwelcome. My house, my choice. Get it? Hope your holiday conversations are whatever YOU want them to be!

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