Imagine yourself on the sofa flanked on either side by your 80-year-old granny and an overly curious 5-year-old niece. What will you all talk about?
Don’t bring up the weather. You can do so much better than that. Really. You can make a lasting impression this year by helping your family to bond and create new memories. Whether you’re gathering with your own flesh and blood or your lovely in-laws, there’s a lot you can talk about to avoid awkward silences. These also keep everyone from relying on their phones and tablets to pass the time away!
Read More: Try These Tech Etiquette Tips and 7 Reasons You Should have a Friendsgiving
How it works: Each family member takes turns asking, “Would you rather…” questions. It’s up to you and your clan to come up with crazy choices to make. A couple of fun examples:
Plan ahead by getting great questions from the official Would You Rather website.
In case you didn’t know, Baby Boomers tend to carry a lot of wisdom. But that knowledge rarely gets passed down because no one wants to sit around and listen to granny babble about the olden days. But don’t doubt the matriarch of the family – you’re all in for an entertaining treat! Get the whole clan together and make a concerted effort to gather some family history. Have granny or the oldest person present tell you all about how life was growing up back in the day. Don’t forget to get their insight on how things have changed, especially how they did certain tasks before technology took over. Think of it as story time without a book. You’ll walk away with a new perception of your family and great stories to pass down to future generations.
Find a friendly website or app chock full of kids jokes and let the little ones compete to see who can make the family LOL.
Read more: Ways to Cheer Up the Lonely
You know and follow everyone on Facebook, right? If you do, use that awareness of what’s going on in their lives to start a conversation. Ask people about their new hobbies or jobs, or anything that shows you’ve been paying attention. Knowing about it already keeps you from having to start from zero, but there’s a lot of interesting detail that’s hard to get across until having a conversation in person.
If you ask a question that can be answered with one word, you’re not starting a conversation.
Part of talking to other people is that they’re also doing a lot of talking. Similar to making questions open, don’t force them to follow the path you had in mind when you started the conversation. Let others take it where the conversation goes, rather than trying to force them to have the conversation you made up in your head.
Have someone who is really adamant and has a temper about a topic? Then you’re best avoiding it. Don’t let that become the default, scaring everyone away from having a conversation at all. A disagreement about religion, politics, or anything else doesn’t have to shut down all conversation, so try to find ways to steer the conversation away if it’s going near or avoid it completely if you can.
Read more: How to Deal with Annoying Family Members This Holiday Season and Which Type of Family Holiday Dinner Guest Are You?
If you’re familiar with explosive conversations, you’re probably afraid to talk about a topic that people get passionate about. What you want, though, is for them to be passionate in a positive direction. If you can get people talking about topics they really care about, even if you don’t, the passion they show can be entrancing all on its own.
Now that you have an idea what to do, it’s time for more concrete examples of how to get a conversation going. Here are 50 questions to get to know your relatives a little better.
We want to hear from you! What are your ideas for keeping the conversation going at family gatherings?
Need more help dealing with those pesky relatives? Be sure to read How to Deal with Annoying Family Members and 6 Ways to Prevent Guests From Overstaying Their Welcome.