10 Ways to Start a Family Dinner Conversation

Dinner forksDo you know what you’re talking about at dinner tonight?  If you’re dining with a friend, the conversation usually flows easily from one topic to the next without any spurts and sputters but not always the case for family dinners.

For families of young children, just getting through is often the goal but once everyone is capable of sitting down without melting down, some conversation planning can enhance the one time a day families usually gather.  Especially on the evenings when no one feels like talking.

Most of us are probably way too familiar with the one word answer we get to many of our questions, “fine”. To have fun, interactive table talk prepare for it in advance.

Decide ahead of time that dinner is off-limits for arguing, confrontations or criticism. Instead, look for opportunities to communicate, compliment and celebrate.

Light a candle and try one of  10 ideas to keep the talk flowing.

  1. Find out what happened in history on this day, newspapers usually have an almanac of those facts each day or get it from the internet. See my blog posts “On This day in YOUR History” for a variation (Intentional Family Life.)
  2. Tell extended family stories. Both of our moms wrote stories about their lives for family use that we shared sometimes at dinner.  Try also to fill in stories about relatives your kids never met.
  3. Use a book or box of fun questions or write your own and pass them around.
  4. Play “Two truths and a Lie: Everyone tells three things that happened that day but one of them didn’t.  Each family member tries to guess the imposter event.
  5. Ask their opinion on current events. If it is different from yours, JUST LISTEN!
  6. For years we read a one-liner from “Life’s Little Instruction Book” (H. Jackson Brown, Jr.) to open up discussion.  Still quoted today! “Life’s Little Instruction Book.”
  7. Invite a guest, their friend or yours, often!  A new voice adds a lot to the interaction.
  8. Prepare fun food sometimes such as fondue, make your own burritos, or salad, taco, or chili bars with lots of toppings, finish with make-your-own ice cream sundaes! Celebrate passed tests, sports victories, good try outs, auditions, etc with special dessert. Conversation flows while you’re having fun!
  9. Take turns bringing a topic or question to the table to start conversation.
  10. Fill in the phrase:  “The best thing about today was….”

What works at your house?

Hope for the best,



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