Today we have a post from Laurie David author of The Family Dinner, a book all about ways to get connected to your family and friends around the dinner table.
This week my dinner guests were an odd assortment. The table consisted of one person I had met once before, his girlfriend who I had just met, an eight year old girl, my fiance and his mother. Forget about figuring out what to eat, what to talk about was really the key challenge.
No dinner, no matter how delicious the food, is fun without good conversation, the kind where everyone is involved—listening, responding, contributing. It’s the duty of everyone at the table to contribute in some way, no free passes of just eating and listening. Granted, this is a little easier when the kids are school age, but if you’re not there yet, I promise you will be soon!) As my own kids, now teenagers, have grown up around the dinner table, I’ve found that one key to getting everyone participating is quick, easy games. Over the years I’ve compiled a treasure trove of games and word play for all ages that always come to the rescue of a silent dinner table.
I have to laugh because it was the eight year old, naturally, who kicked it off as soon as we sat down the other night. “Lets play the idiosyncrasy game,” she suggested. That’s an old David standby that’s sure to equalize any table no matter the ages or interests of the guests.
That night was no exception. We all laughed at ourselves and each other as we revealed things that might otherwise have taken years to find out. Among the personal oddities, we learned that “the girlfriend” has an unusual thirst for pickle juice. Yep, you read me right. After all the pickles are gone, the juice is sipped and enjoyed. She said she learned it from her mom who loves it, too.
Ok, another duty of everyone at the table is no judging! Just use the conversation as a perfect opportunity to connect with each other and consider it a great recipe for a memorable meal.
What are your tricks for keeping the dinner table conversation flowing?
Read more ideas and stories from Laurie on The Family Dinner website, and see what she taught our managing editor Kristin van Ogtrop earlier this month.
[Laurie’s photo by Maryellen Baker]