Creating Memorable Thanksgiving Conversations With Friends and Family
For Thanksgiving week, we all deserve less to read and think about, because we’re all COOKING!
(Maybe so, maybe not.)
Maybe we’re just eating!
In the spirit of “all things food” and this week of gratitude and full tummies, I’m referring you to an article that will surely bless you with ideas for creating memorable and happy conversations at your Thanksgiving table, should you be dining with, well, others.
Food52 is a site I frequent for cooking ideas, and they recently published this (I must say!) ELABORATE and lengthy article called “20+ Strategies for Avoiding (& Pivoting) Awkward Conversations.”
Because the Thanksgiving table often includes an unusual array of participants, those you know well, and those you don’t (each group presenting its own challenges) this list of conversation-starter, conversation-maintainer questions could save you, should you need saving!
(Maybe cooking is easy for you, and the conversations not so much. )
Knowing how to head awkward conversations off at the pass is also a handy, “in your back pocket” skill, and these suggestions about how to pivot an awkward or unwanted conversation are mentioned in the main article.
The link will take you to the full article, but if you don’t have time for that, here’s the summary list of questions.
Food52’s Recommended Questions for Thanksgiving Tables Everywhere
Infinitely better than vague “How are you?” or “How’s life?,” these questions offer more direction without putting your talking buddy on the spot. (Ease into them: Best not to overwhelm someone with a “Tell me your hopes and dreams and the values you hold dearest to your heart” before finding out what they do for a living or where they live.)
“So, how’s life?”
—Not a question you want to answer
For total strangers
Early in the conversation:
What did you do last Thanksgiving? How have you spent the holiday in the past?
Where did you grow up?
What’s your favorite part of living in [insert city or town here]?
What do you do for a living and how did you get to that place?
What are your hobbies outside of work?
What are you looking forward to in the next month?
Have you eaten at any good restaurants (or cooked anything delicious) lately?
What’s the last good book or article you read?
What are you doing for the holidays? Do you have any trips or activities planned?
What’s your best Thanksgiving memory (besides this one, talking to me, of course)?
When’s the last time you laughed really hard?
Where’s the best place you’ve traveled to?
If you could move to another city or country, where would you go?
For relatives who might as well be (or strangers you saw last year):
Last time I saw you, you were [insert craftily-researched or remembered fact here]. How’s that going?
Are you still at the same job? What’s your favorite part about it (or, what keeps you there)?
Remember the last time I saw you, when [insert fun memory here. Childhood memories are acceptable].
So you’re in [insert grade in school—again, research comes in handy]. What are you learning? What are your favorite and least favorite classes?
Are you working on any new projects in work, school, life? What are you proudest of?
Are you planning to buy any gifts for the holidays? Do you need help brainstorming?
What Thanksgiving food have you been looking forward to the most?
What’s the funniest thing your pet has been up to lately?
Did you hear about [uncontroversial, relatively well-known news story]?
What’s something you’d like to learn more about?
And, when I’m wrapped up in asking questions, I sometimes forget the even more important part: to listen to the answers. They’ll naturally lead to additional questions (and the foundation of “research” for next year’s encounter).
Plus, once I get the conversational ball rolling, maybe I won’t want the interaction—or the party—to end? On Thanksgiving, anything is possible.
That’s all folks!
Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving week!