The holidays are times of gatherings. Friends and family get together to visit and enjoy each other’s company, to share stories, eat meals and more. These gatherings are usually fun for everyone involved, but we all know there are times topics of conversation come up that cause debate and perhaps even arguments and hurt feelings. There are several ways to avoid such confrontations and keep the mood light and happy.
Of course the old advice “never talk about politics and religion” is seldom of help during holiday gatherings: someone inevitably brings up politics or religion, two topics we can hardly avoid so soon after the hotly contested presidential election and during this time of year. But if you’re ready with constructive and fun activities to steer people away from controversial or hot button topics, you’ll keep the party going with little chance of discomfort and arguments breaking out.
Here are activity ideas to keep conversations light:
1.) Conversation Starter Cards. Several companies make decks of cards that have literally hundreds of thought-provoking questions printed on them. People draw cards at random and answer the question on the card. This is a great way to break the ice for people new to your group and to learn about the people around you. If you can’t find these decks in stores, create a set of your own. 3”x5” cards work fine. Be fun and creative with your questions, but don’t get too personal.
2.) Would you Rather… Like the conversation starter cards, you can create a set of cards asking people if they’d rather do X or Y. You can be silly or scary, realistic or far-fetched. “Would you rather eat nothing but ice cream or cheese burgers for the rest of your life?” “Would you rather date a rich but shallow person or a broke but thoughtful person?” Of course people must explain their response after giving it. And “neither” is not an option.
3.) Story Time. Each person tells a story about a cherished memory from a past holiday. Try to let the person tell the story completely before commenting or asking questions.
4.) Recipe Sharing Each person comes up with something to add to the next gathering, ideally something new to the table. Even if the person doesn’t know how to make toast, they know food that they enjoy. They should come up with their idea and somebody can look up the dish (or something like it) online and the group then decides what to try and add to the table next time.
Note that children can take part in these fun activities. As a matter of fact, kids at the table sometimes helps ensure the conversation will stay light and fun.