With Thanksgiving just around the corner, many Americans are preparing to sit down at their tables to enjoy turkey and stuffing. I love the tradition that many tables share, highlighting a point of gratitude as they break bread. For most people, this involves going around the table, with each person sharing one thing they’re grateful for. And while I really love the intention behind this, I’ve noticed a pattern. Most people tend to say the same thing year after year. Or they focus on the big or more obvious things in life.
This is the same pattern I talked about with most November gratitude challenges. We say the same things. We just skim the surface. And we miss so much depth. So if you’re ready to take your Thanksgiving table tradition up a notch, here are five conversation starters that will boost the gratitude around your Thanksgiving table. (PS: If you don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, these conversation starters are perfect for nearly any holiday gathering!)
1. What challenge from the last year are you most grateful for? What did it teach you?
This question helps people reframe something that was once really challenging into an experience of growth. I love that this conversation starter provides a little more depth to the dialogue. So often, we only see other peoples’ highlights. But this question gives everyone a more authentic glimpse at the people sitting around the table.
2. What small act of kindness are you grateful for recently?
This is one of my favorite conversation starters for groups that may not be super familiar with one another. It’s not too personal or heavy, but it’s still thought provoking. It gives the people seated around the table a chance to hear the random kindness of others (always a bonus). Plus, you get some insight into what makes the person sharing tick.
3. What act of courage are you most grateful for this year?
Y’all know I love me some courage. (To see how courage dramatically changed my life, check out this post.) Ask the people around your table about an act of courage from the year, and hear what it meant to them. This conversation starter can be contagious, as you see the acts of courage and how they paid off for your tablemates. And if you’ve got someone at your table that hasn’t quite heard about the benefits of courage, this is a great way to teach them.
4. What are you most grateful for about the person sitting to your right?
This might be one of the more anxiety provoking conversation starters, because it prompts us to connect with the our tablemates. It’s a way to say “I see you, and I notice you.” And this question doesn’t just have to be for groups that are related or close. This conversation starter is perfect for groups still getting to know each other. Nothing warms people up like hearing positive feedback about themselves. So don’t be afraid to give this one a try!
5. What memory of ________ are you most grateful for?
This question is great for families who are struggling with loss. It’s good for groups who are missing someone important around their table. It prompts each person to think of a memory they hold dear, which can be a bright spot when the holiday feels hard. This conversation starter is also cool because people often share stories or memories that many of the people around the table don’t even know. This question might bring up tears or laughter, and both are absolutely ok.
If you want to have rich dialogue around your holiday table, then you’ve got to be intentional. So use one or two of these conversation starters and see just how contagious and inspiring gratitude can be!
PS: Wanting tips on how to avoid a conflict around your Thanksgiving table? I’ve got you covered!