Manner Monday®: Preparing for Thanksgiving Dinner conversation

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With the Holidays fast approaching, many people will be sitting down to ‘break bread’ with sometimes a great number of extended family members.  Oftentimes, this includes ‘unfamiliar’ family members.  Not too many of us actually enjoy that awkward moment of ‘what am I going to say’ or being stuck in an uncomfortable moment when the conversation isn’t flowing as freely as we would like for it to.  By spending some time now with your immediate family, during your FFT dinner, you can work on ‘comfortable conversation’ starters, so hopefully you won’t be stuck in an ‘uncomfortable conversation’.

If you’re hosting this year, here are some helpful tips to make sure things go as smooth as possible when it comes to creating ‘comfortable conversation’ opportunities:

Assigned Seating:  It helps to take the guess work out of where everyone will sit and you’re also able to corral “Uncle Tom” between you and your sister… who will be able to help you keep him in check.

Table Setting Tips:  If you’re tasked with setting the table, check out this previous post with details to make it fun and easy!

Place Cards:  You can use something as simple as a piece of card stock, or you can do something fun such as a pinecone with the persons name tied to it with construction paper or ribbon.  You can also do something a bit more special such as a mini picture frame with your guest’s name, or photo, in it that they can take home with them as cherished memento.  If you have a little one, have them get in on the place card task; they love being included and can add an artistic touch that everyone will appreciate.

Conversation starters:  Another benefit of place cards, you can place a question on each place card that helps to get the conversation going.  Planting questions is a fabulous way to get the family talking and to share stories from ‘days gone by’ and create wonderful family memories you will treasure for a lifetime.

Here are some sample questions:

  • Ask an ‘older’ relative (grandparent, aunt, uncle or friend) what they remember about:
    • the invention of ‘cell phones’ and what did it look like?
    • What were their telephone ‘rules’ in the house before cell phones?
    • Before text and email, how did they send correspondence to friends and family. Did they have a ‘pen pal’?
    • Landline phones that were attached to the wall via a cord Party lines.
  •  Tell us about your favorite childhood Thanksgiving memory.
  • What was life like before Cell Phones and DVRs?
  • What are you most thankful for this year?
  • What is your most memorable school picture?
  • What special childhood memory do you have of a family member who is no longer with us?
  • What luxuries do you take for granted and why are you thankful for them?
  • Which teacher were you most grateful for?
  • What is your favorite memory from grade school?
  • How did you meet?  Tell us about your first date.  (This is a great one for the Grandparents.)
  • What family recipe reminds you of something special?
  • Tell about a time when you were reminded “it’s better to give than receive”.
  • Thinking of the pilgrims and their adventure, what do you think it would be like to leave everyone and everything behind and move to a new country…without a job secured?
  • What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken in your life?
  • What do you appreciate most about the person on your right?

As people are answering their questions, think of saying things such as “tell us more” instead of cutting them short to share your version or answer.

Turn the TV off and leave your cell phone at the front door (or in the car).  Take this time to focus on good old-fashioned ‘face-time’!!!

And if you missed last weeks post, here are more tips on Planning the Perfectly Imperfect Party.

What are your tricks to keeping the conversation comfortable at your Thanksgiving table?  Please leave a comment below to share your tips and stories.

Happy Thanksgiving!  …and may the conversation be comfortable!

Thanksgiving Table


In other news….

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Here are just a few of the workshop topics:

  • Etiquette and the Generations – understanding ‘those guys’
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As always, thanks for reading!

– Carey Sue


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