You've purchased the beer and wine. You've prepared your carefully planned menu and set the table. The centerpiece looks beautiful and the music is playing. You're almost ready for your guests to arrive, but have you given any thought to how to get the conversation flowing? Unless this is a group of friends or family who are very comfortable with one another, it's important to think about ways you can get your group of guests to converse. And even with a comfortable group, it doesn't hurt to introduce a new topic of conversation to liven up the party.
That's why many hosts find it helpful to choose a few topics for conversation to make it a bit easier for guests to chat it up. You, as host, can introduce a topic to the group once everyone has arrived at your party. Alternatively you can fill an attractive bowl with slips of paper that have questions that lead to conversations. Leave them on the dinner table or on tables around your party room to encourage guests to pick them up and begin chatting on their own. In either case, your guests will appreciate you for not neglecting the most important part of any party - the conversations.
When choosing topics for conversation, you should try to avoid subjects that could potentially cause fights among your guests. The classics that fall in this category are discussions about religion or politics. But even on local levels there can be controversy such as whether the school budget should be approved or whether neighbors should be allowed to host loud, outside parties late into the night. The purpose of your gathering is to encourage your guests to know each other and get along, not fan the flames of long-standing arguments!
You should also aim to begin conversations with topics which are easy for many people to join in, not with limited subjects that only a few know about. Choose ideas that will get people to laugh, reminisce or share comfortably, but not so personally that anyone would feel uncomfortable.
With these guidelines in mind, I offer the following list of topics for starting the conversation at your next event:
What was your favorite cartoon as a child?
What was your favorite tv show as a child?
What is your all-time favorite movie and why?
Who was your first pop star/celebrity crush?
What was your favorite toy as a child?
What is your favorite modern toy that your children or their friends play with and why?
Which is a better pet, cats or dogs and why?
What's your secret talent that you're willing to reveal?
If you could pick any state to live in and you knew your job would be waiting there, which would you choose and why?
What was your biggest surprise ever?
If you had to give up one of these forever, would you choose television or music from any source?
Would you rather be able to fly, be invisible, or read minds, and why?
Which one food and beverage would you choose for life on a desert island?
What three things aside from food and drinks would you need to have with you on a desert island?
Would you choose to live the rest of your life in a safe environment on the moon or on the ocean floor?
What age would you want to remain for the duration of your life?
Which is your favorite vacation spot - beach, mountain, desert, or city?
What would be your ideal sandwich?
What is the perfect combination of pizza toppings?
What was the worst job you ever held and why?
Have you ever done extreme couponing? If so, what was your best deal?
What was the greatest invention, ever?
If you were to win the mega lottery, what's the first thing you would buy for yourself?
If you'd like to find more of Donna Pilato's advice on hosting parties and entertaining friends and family you can visit her at The Delicious Dozen.