We’re fans of open ended questions around the dinner table because you learn something much deeper about your friends and family than just idle chit chat about how’s work, life, the kids, weather.
So, coming prepared with a punch list of things to ask could make you the star of this year’s holiday meals. Now you could do this one on one with whomever is sitting next to you, or you could open it up to the entire group.
1. “What do you want to get out of 2018?”
This was one of our favorite questions for last year’s holiday. We asked it and went around the table listening to each person describe what they wanted. Some talked about what they were hoping to achieve at work, growing into new roles. Others talked about where they wanted to live because they’re big travelers and a bit more nomadic than your average couple. Still others were about reducing the complexity in their lives, such as getting rid of rental properties, cleaning out old sheds, and generally simplifying their life so they could relax a bit more.
Us, we’re choosing to make decisions that reduce stress in 2018. It’s surely not great for your heart, relationships, or your health.
You saw this one coming before you even got done reading the first few words of the title, but Sports is hard to get away from now that we’re squarely in football season. There will be plenty of pro games on during the big Turkey day and plenty more college games throughout the weekend to sit and enjoy.
And if society is more your thing, but with a sports bent, you could always chat up Serena William’s Vogue-styled wedding to the tech millionaire, Alexis Ohanian, also the founder of Reddit. She plays tennis. It counts.
3. Tesla’s New Vehicles
Speaking of the technology world, the latest news out of Silicon Valley is, of course, Telsa’s new electric truck and its forthcoming Roadster 2. (And by forthcoming, we mean in the year 2020, which reminds us of the original Transformers movie when they showed the yellow Bumble Bee Camaro in the movie a full 4 years before it was set to hit dealers). So you can talk about that with friends. “Hey did you see that crazy stuff Tesla is up to now?” “Yah, did you see that Elon is charging a full $250,000 deposit if you want one of the first 1,000 units that come off the line.” Whopper.
4. Tell People The Good Things You Think About Them
We recently had a colleague and good friend pass away. It truly reminds you of how fragile and short this life is of ours. This could very well be the last Thanksgiving you spend with someone around the table. Take a moment and talk to people. Really talk to them. Not the small talk. But really ask them how their life is. Maybe you can help.
Or, better yet, tell them the positive things you think about them but never say out loud. Everyone has great qualities but most people never hear about them. Most people only hear the negative feedback. Makes them feel good, they smile, makes you smile, and the positive energy keeps flowing back and forth.
5. “What are you thankful for?”
We’ve noticed over the last few years that people have begun moving away from talking about what we’re all thankful for. Sadly, we’re just there to go through the motions, eat a bit too much food, drink a bit too much, and enjoy an extra sweet or two. But today is the day to make a change, and make the “Thankful” happen.
It doesn’t need to be a big deal, you could just ask the person next to you what he or she is thankful for. Hopefully the answer comes back about people rather than about things.
6. The Last Trip
“Where’s the last place you visited?” is a great question to get a conversation going. We had a Friendsgiving over the weekend and spent at least 20 minutes talking to a couple about their last vacation because we had considered going to the same place. It was a timely conversation because they told us about how long we should plan to be there without going stir crazy (it was a secluded island) and how we should chop up the vacation into different destinations over a week or 10 days to maximize the fun and adventure.
You never quite know where the conversation could lead, and it could end up helping you out.
7. Cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin & Blockchain
It’s taking the technology world by storm, and for good reason. Everyone from Wall St to the Valley and all over the world see the massive price increases occurring in the space. Even our friends in the animation industry have reached out asking whether they should invest in it. It’s enough to kill at least 10 minutes of idle time with chat of crypto. And if you want to get super legit smart real quick, then we suggest two resources:
- 3 high-level overview podcasts on Understanding Blockchains, Investing in Cryptocurrencies, and the Creative Future
- A book by yours truly titled, What the F&CK Is Bitcoin, where you can learn smart sh*t super quick. In this case, basic Bitcoin questions in less than 20 pages.
8. Food Questions
Sometimes we all get stuck in small talk situations and we have absolutely zero idea how to keep the conversation going. Do we just stare blankly into each other’s eyes for the next 5 minutes until someone asks if our blood sugar has officially bottomed out, or do we take matters into our own hands? Are we wo(men) or are we mice?! C’mon Scotland!
So how about some food questions to get things warmed up:
- What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
- Are there any foods that you absolutely would not eat?
- What’s a hidden gem restaurant you love eating at ‘round these parts?
9. Do you have any pets?
Take it from experience. Many people love puppies and kitties. They’re just so stinkin’ cute. “Its a baaaabyyyyyyyy”. People just light up because they’re pure love. They have the same emotions as humans so how can we not treat them as such? You know what we mean if you have a little loved one of your own.
And getting someone talking about their beloved dog or cat, or perhaps horse, can ignite any dwindling conversation. Not only that, but there are so many dogs and cats that get put down every day that need to be rescued and loved. Say no to puppy mills. Save an animal, and perhaps you’ll save your own life in the process. Because puppieeeesssss!
10. “What do you do?”
Ah, the dreaded work question. If all else fails you can move into the work area, but it’s a last resort. Because it’s vacation time. The last thing anyone wants to do is get back into the work mindsight. Time to shut off and shut down for a bit. Work can wait.
P.S. A word of advice. Just stay away from politics by all means necessary. It’s been a rough year all around and people are even more passionate about this stuff than ever before. Besides, you may not know the newest member of the family as well as you think. Or someone’s political view, even if you’ve known them for years. It’s just not worth it to get into a political fight about beliefs on a day to say thanks.