Table Talk

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Story Games for Your Table

Secret

As we say, dinner is as much about the conversation as it is about healthy, delicious food. But it’s not always easy for families to open up and talk to each other. That’s where table games come in.

Remember, it’s not always necessary to have deep, revealing conversations with each other. Just talk, about anything, and have fun! Here are a couple of story game suggestions to get your table talking:

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Favorite Ways to Connect at the Table

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I’m a huge fan of using games, word play and conversation starters to get the discussion going at the dinner table. Here are some of my favorites:

1. The Pet Peeve and Idiosyncrasy game. This is a sure fire way to get everyone chatting at the table. First, be sure to define and differentiate between “Pet Peeves” (annoyances) and “Idiosyncrasies” (any personal peculiarity or mannerism). It’s fun to debate the subtle difference with your family! Once you’ve done this, go around the table and ask each person to name a pet peeve and one of their idiosyncrasies. (You can do them as separate rounds or together.) And as an addendum, if your family has a good sense of humor and they aren’t sensitive types, you can play a version of the game where you name one another’s idiosyncrasies and pet peeves. (Believe me, they know more of your quirks than you do!)

2. Something I Like About Myself. This one is pretty self explanatory! And it’s really easy to get the little ones at the table talking. A version of this game is saying something that you like about the person to your right and go around the table. Try to be creative!

3. Highs and Lows. This one is a classic. Everyone goes around the table and says the high point of their day and the low point. It’s a great way to hear about what happened at school or practice that day without the usual “how was your day, honey?” “Fine.” conversation! The Obamas play a version of this game that they call “Rose and Thorn.”

4. Would You Rather… I have a whole list of these hypothetical questions in The Family Dinner book (Would you rather jump in a cold pool or do an extra hour of homework? Would you rather go bowling or shopping for pants?) And it’s fun to have everyone come up with their own as well.

Let us know. What works at your table to get the conversation going?

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The Resolutions Game

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With 2015 fast approaching, here’s a fun family dinner game around the tradition of the New Year’s resolution. Although resolutions, like gratitude, should be something we focus on year round. To aid in that quest, try this dinner table game:

• Everyone write a resolution on a slip of paper, for a change you want to make or just work on. Or try calling it a “determination” — it’s less New Year’s sounding, isn’t it?

• Fold them up and place them in a bowl.

• Select a reader who reads one at a time. Everyone guesses which thought belongs to whom.

There are lots of fun variations of this game, including writing a resolution for someone else at the table (kind ones only!) or one wish for the world, or one thing that makes you happy. A simple fun game that will get everyone talking and laughing, and extend your dinner a few precious moments longer.

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The Laughing Game

Here’s a great idea for a game you can play at the family dinner table. The Laughing Game. Everyone laugh like Mom. Everyone laugh like Dad. Everyone laugh like… who’s next?

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Sweeten Your Dinner with a Cup of Gratitude

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After reading the 10 newest recipes for how to roast the perfect turkey (are they ever really new?), after writing then losing the mile long grocery list, and after all the shopping and prepping, stuffing, and table setting is done…take a breath. Light the candles. Invite everyone to sit down around the table and just for a moment let’s talk about what Thanksgiving is really about…

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