Let’s be honest. The holidays squeeze us of patience, energy, and time, especially when it comes to carrying on conversation with family that we may or may not have seen for awhile. As much as we love binging on parades and football, casseroles and pies, often anxiety and dread lead Thanksgiving Day. We get together with family members we only see once a year. Maybe they’re extended family or maybe they’re estranged immediate family. Blended families gather with parents who are divorced. There’s the busy-body aunt who tries to get personal information out of you or the one who overshares. Maybe there’s a cousin who brags and tries to one-up you. Even in the healthiest of families, there can be tension.
What makes engaging conversation even harder is when you don’t know someone well or haven’t seen them in a long time. Below is a list of 60 conversation starters to use with your family this Thanksgiving. Some of them are lighthearted and some are serious. Some are best to use with extended family. Others are more suitable to use with immediate family or close friends. These Thanksgiving Day conversation starters are fun to use regardless of what your celebration looks like! You can look forward to having meaningful discussions with relatives of all ages and stages of life!
Some suggestions are to write these Thanksgiving conversation starters on popsicle sticks or index cards and have each person randomly choose one. Another option is to write them on index cards and put them in a stack in the center of the table and let each person draw one. You may even want to have a question at each person’s place setting like a place card, under each person’s seat, or written on the bottom of each paper plate.
Thanksgiving Conversation Starters about the Past Year:
- What was the best thing that happened to you in the past year?
- What new did you learn this past year?
- How would you rate this past year on a scale of 1-10? Why?
- What has made you the most thankful this year?
- If you could change one thing about this past year, what would it be?
- What is one memory from the past year that you never want to forget?
- What is one piece of advice you learned this year that you want to pass on to someone else?
- What month of this past year was your favorite and why?
- What did you read or listen to this past year that you’d recommend (book, blog post, podcast, song, article)?
- What is a funny story of something that happened in your life this past year?
Conversation Starters about the New Year:
- What is one thing you hope happens in your life next year?
- What is your favorite season? What is something you look forward to doing in that season next year?
- Is there something you dread or are afraid of in the new year? If so, what is it?
- What is one unknown in your life that you hope you discover the answer to in the new year?
- What is one word that describes your feelings about the new year?
- What is one goal you hope to achieve in the new year?
- What is one area of growth you hope to see in your life in the new year?
- What is one thing you want to do more of in the new year?
- Who is one person you want to get to know better in the new year?
- What trips do you plan to take in the new year?
Conversation Starters about the Holidays:
- What is your favorite holiday and why?
- What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition and why?
- How did you celebrate Thanksgiving growing up?
- If you could only have one Thanksgiving food on Thanksgiving Day this year, what would it be and why?
- If you could have only one dessert this entire holiday season, what would it be?
- What ideas do you have for blessing people in your community during the holidays?
- What are your Christmas morning traditions?
- What is the best gift you ever received as a child and why was it your favorite?
- What are some good stocking stuffer ideas?
- Do you shop in the early morning on Black Friday?
Conversation Starters about Your Life:
- Tell me about something new in your life - your job, house, car, baby, spouse, etc.
- Tell me about your job. What do you like about it? What do you dislike?
- So far, what year of your life stands out to you the most and why?
- Are you familiar with the Enneagram? If so, tell me about your experience with it.
- Do you have any good television or movie recommendations?
- How has your life changed since turning 30? 40? 50? 60? 70?
- Tell me about your children or grandchildren.
- How are you learning to be a parent to a newborn, toddler, preschooler, young child, preteen, teenager, or young adult child?
- What do you like most about being a mom/dad?
- If you could spend one day all by yourself, where would you go and what would you do?
Thanksgiving Conversation Starters for Children:
- If you could be a gigantic balloon in the Thanksgiving Day parade, which balloon would you want to be?
- If you had a pet turkey, what would you name it?
- Tell me a Thanksgiving joke.
- If you had to eat a bowlful of one vegetable, which one would you choose?
- If you were a turkey and got caught for a Thanksgiving meal, what excuse would you use for the people to let you go and not eat you?
- If you had to get rid of one holiday in order to keep Thanksgiving, what holiday would you get rid of?
- Explain how you would make a pumpkin pie.
- What is the one toy you’re most thankful for?
- What is one way you can express thankfulness to your teachers?
- What do you know about the history of Thanksgiving with the Native Americans and pilgrims?
Conversation Starters about Faith:
- What circumstance in your life helped you understand Jesus the most?
- What is a circumstance in your life that was painful at the time but that you now thank God for?
- What area of your life have you seen God work the most?
- What word describes Jesus to you?
- What has God taught you recently?
- How do you explain faith to someone who doesn’t have any prior knowledge of Jesus?
- When do you feel closest to Jesus?
- Has God ever told you to do something you didn’t want to do? What did He tell you? Did you do it?
- If you could interview one person from the Bible, who would you interview?
- What person in the Bible do you most relate to and why?
A Thanksgiving Prayer to Pray at the Dinner Table:
Complex family dynamics make loving the members of our families hard. However, despite these challenges, God calls us to do just that - love each other. That starts with putting other people before ourselves by being engaged in conversation, talk when we don’t feel like it, and show interest in what they say. In short, make the person you’re talking to feel like they’re the most important person in the room. A perfect example of this is the Apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians he writes, "I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them" (1 Corinthians 9:19b), and "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings" (1 Corinthians 9:22b, 23).
Brenda Rodgers considers herself a “recovering single” after years as a single woman chasing after marriage instead of chasing after Jesus. Now her passion is to mentor young women to live purposefully and grow in their relationship with God and others. Brenda has been married for five years to a heart transplant hero and is the mom of a toddler girl miracle. She is also the author of the eBook Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. You can also read more on BrendaRodgers.com and follow her on Twitter.