The guests have arrived, the wine has been poured and the lighting is perfect. But wait, something is missing. Oh, yes -- sparkling conversation and merry laughter have not yet arrived. All you hear are crickets.
Don't let your dinner party be remembered only for the fabulous stuffed figs that you served, but also for the warm conversation accompanying each dish. Talking about work and the weather is undoubtedly boring, but these are the go-to topics for a group of unfamiliar dinner companions. Be the host with the most by providing fodder for more interesting discussions.
1. Gratitudes or Wishes: Create an interactive centerpiece using items found in your backyard or craft cabinet. Arrange branches in a vase or container and attach artsy extras like paper leaves or tissue paper flower buds to add color. Then supply guests with tags and invite them to write one gratitude or wish to add to the branches. When the conversation lulls, start selecting tags to read aloud.
2. Not Your Ordinary Napkins: Dinner Conversation Napkins from Wisteria are a great way to keep conversation topics at hand. These cloth napkins come in three varieties that offer appropriate questions for children, teens, or adults.
3. Maps: Turn the topic to travel by using map place mats on your dining table. These can be purchased or made by cutting old maps to size. Guests can mark where they have been or where they want to go and the conversation will surely follow.
4. Question Cards: Never fear a lapse in dialogue over the pumpkin pie, Thanksgiving Conversation Cards are standing by (cue super hero theme song)! Conversation boxed questions from Box Girls come in sets for every occasion including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah and family dinner. Another option for ready to go question cards is Table Topics, which is packaged in a sleek "ice cube". Crafty types can also make their own by writing or gluing personalized questions to the bottom of cardboard coasters.
5. Memory Frames: Frame memorable or meaningful photographs of you and your guests and place them at each table setting. Use 4x6 or smaller frames that are all the same color and that coordinate with your table décor. For family gatherings, old photographs (like grandpa and his first bike) will spark wonderful family stories.
In the meantime, we would love to hear your clever ideas for ignoring the crickets at the party.