I love family and friends who are family. The holiday season is infamous for family gatherings that start off looking like Norman Rockwell paintings and end looking like a middle-school food fight of words. Or, if you’ve seen the holiday episode of The Bear, then maybe the chaos and trauma are more fitting of your experience.
Just take a moment to pause before the crazy of it all.
Or, your family is well-meaning and loving, but their peppered questions are really an interrogation into your life. They dig, dig, and dig, sometimes taking pride in their questions that cause you to “think”, but do little to engage you in conversion or listen to your responses. Again, they’re “looking out for you”, but the nightmare of this keeps you in the holiday kitchen, washing dishes, or caring for the children.
Y’all, we need help. Our conversation skills are on the struggle bus, and our listening skills are not that far behind. And because we can’t read a library’s worth of books, get a Masters degree in a week, and we still have to prep the holiday meals, cookies, and remember to get the “fancy” paper napkins, we need a shortcut.
Enter in conversation cards.
We’ve been using these at dinnertime and during family road trips, and they’re my ultimate cheat for when I want meaningful conversation without adding to my to-do list.
The cards that started it all for us, Questions for Humans: Parents & Kids, are our favorites. The topics are light and easy-going, perfect for dinner time, and easy for all ages. One of the most memorable conversations we’ve had at the dinner table was answering “What’s the hardest thing you learned at school?” because it went beyond rout answers. Our kids have really shocked us with their responses, but most of all with what they remember being shared about previous questions. LIGHTBULB! Our kids are listening. They love these cards so much that we have to limit the number of cards that get pulled at dinner time to make sure we have meaningful conversation, and so the cards last longer than a week.
I came across these cards by Open The Joy, an Asian Mom-owned brand, while scrolling through the Target app (they got me!) and I instantly wanted to order everything. I reigned it in and landed on the “Would You Rather” that made my nephew giggle and landed me the spot for the sillyest aunt. (I’ve made up this award and have self-awarded it as well!) I grabbed the “Let’s Talk” cards for dinner conversation, and while not as humorous as “Would you rather it rain gummy bears or hail gum balls?” (GUMMY BEARS!), these do a really nice job of setting up a prompt with follow-up questions to keep the conversation going!
We were gifted My Neighborhood’s Voice Listening Cards cards, as part of a thank-you gift, and what instantly stuck out to me was the name, “listening cards”. From “How do you think being literate has impacted your life?” to “How has the American sports industry impacted our nation in terms of health, sportsmanship, power, or politics? Or how not?”. Featuring over eight overarching themes to cover the full scope of life, the cards and accompanying timers encourage creating hospitable gatherings for people to listen to each other’s stories and perspectives. Gift them! I can see these being a great gift for anyone who leads a team or a small group.
Maybe you’re racing out the door right now, and you need an idea.
Steal this idea: Grab a piece of poster board or a few sheets of paper and write a question on each. Bring a stack of pens for people to write their responses, or leave them visible as a general conversation starter when there is a lull.
Whatever you decide to do, practice having meaningful dialogue around the table and practice listening!
In this with you,
P.S. If you have a favorite kid friendly conversation card favorite please leave a comment because we’re always on the look out for new ones to add to our rotation. Please & thank you.
Traveling for the holidays and looking for something to occupy the whole family? I got you. Read this kid-approved solution.