As I listened to our forks clinking against our plates, I looked up across the table at my husband and chuckled, “We can’t be serious. We haven’t even been married two years. There must be something to talk about.”
Ray and I are both very talkative people, but, sometimes, it’s not always that easy to think of new conversation topics after all the chitchat about the day’s events is over. Once in a while, dinner table conversation just needs a little sprucing up.
Making an effort to enliven conversation at the dinner table will do wonders to your family dinner experience, because, despite what dinner in many homes has devolved into (meals eaten at different times, often in front of the TV), dinner is meant to be just that: an experience.
Here’s what to do to encourage more unique discourse with family (or roommates) at dinnertime. (Note to reader: those of you with children of a certain excited, chatty young age may likely have no problem with dinner table entertainment. Relish your little entertainers while you can!)
- One night, sit down as a family and hand out strips of paper to each family member.
- On the strips of paper, have each person jot down questions—fun, serious, imaginative, thought-provoking, lighthearted, pertaining to current life, the past, the future…almost any thing is fair game. Some ideas include:
- Who was your favorite storybook character growing up? (Remember, all of these can be modified for age-appropriateness—Who is your favorite storybook character? for kids)
- If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be?
- What Olympic sport is your favorite to watch?
- Describe your favorite family vacation.
- Which book of the Bible or verse do you find yourself reading most often?
- What is one character trait or virtue you wish you were better at displaying?
- Name the event or moment that made you the happiest in the past week.
- If you could start your own business some day, what would it be?
- Fold all of the strips of paper and place them in a big jar or box. The more question strips, the better!
- Every night (or on select nights), take turns picking a strip from the question box and let fun conversation ensue. My husband and I usually chat about our days, catch up on each other’s physical, emotional, and spiritual lives, and then turn to the questions after that, going through anywhere between one and three questions, depending on our desire or on how long each question takes to answer. Often, the questions will end up leading to all sorts of other tangential conversations. Allow yourself to get sidetracked! It enhances the experience.
- When you run out of strips, make more!
Forget the music of clinking forks. You can have animated chatter, dynamic storytelling, and laughter back at the dinner table for the cost of a fraction of time, some paper and pens, and the intention to make dinnertime an experience that your family will look forward to every night.
*For those of you looking to do this fun dinner Q&A activity without the doing creative work of coming up with your own questions, I recommend Gary Chapman’s books, 101 Conversation Starters for Families and 101 Conversation Starters for Couples. These books have done the work of coming up with intriguing questions for you, and the Kindle editions are particularly reasonably priced.