So there is the OTHER paper game… you know the one i mean? One of the best big group games, four rounds, Pictionary then One Word clues then Actionary then hiding-behind-the-couch-with-just-your-hands-over-the-top-giving-the-clues raucous LOLlified comedy?

Well THIS is the other one to that. And it’s not technically a game, but more of a How To Enhance A Mealtime or Hangout That Otherwise Might Have Been Somewhat Random or Less Significant.

We have used this before at some of our Deep Dive Dinner Conversations and found them to be very effective at breaking ice, but also at intentionally deepening conversations and helping people move on from what otherwise might be a time of insignificant surface level movies/food/sport type conversation…

It was also something we kinda sprung on the family and so we didn’t know if they’d be amped or how it would go down and to be honest it started a little slow and awkward but once they got into it [which did not take long] they could not get enough and every time we thought it had finished someone would get it going again. And i think it helped create one of the best, if not the best, mealtimes i’ve had with this particular group of people.



# Before anyone arrived, tbV and i sat down and came up with about Twenty questions which we wrote on pieces of paper, folded them and stuck in a bowl.

# After everyone had finished eating we whipped out the bowl, explained to people who it worked and then randomly rock-paper-scissored a starting person and let the ‘games’ begin…

# Each person pulled a question out of the bowl and read it out loud, asking it to the person on their left. If the question had a black dot on it then everyone had to answer [or as many people as wanted – we let it flow naturally and moved on when it felt like it was done]. Also, if there was a question that someone else was asked that you also wanted to answer, you could jump in after them and add your answer.

# That is the whole thing – carry on until you feel like it’s done – we stopped for dessert in the middle and for the children to open their stockings and then continued and we designed some of the questions – When I grow up, I… – specifically with the children in mind so everyone could ‘play’.

# Whenever tbV and i have done this, we have found it helpful to have a range of questions from fun or silly – Most Embarrassing Moment – to deep and personal – What is one painful thing you want to leave behind in 2015? so the conversation flows from light-hearted and fun to serious and reflective but also gives a chance for us to learn things about people we never knew before – What is one job you had that most people at the table won’t know about?

Examples of some of the other questions we used are:

What is a book that changed your perspective? Tell us how.

Tell us a story about someone else at the table?

What was your best Christmas?

What is a book you want to read or a movie you want to see?

One highlight moment from this year?

One thing I love about South Africa is…

And so on.

As long as people are game [and we really had no idea if our group would be or not] this is likely to be something that can really take your shared time to a different level in ways that are fun and interesting but also deeply profound and significant. We heard about previously unknown interests and sources of inspiration; we shared some pain and some lack of hope for the present situation; we had some good laughs and had a chance to thank, encourage and speak life into those sitting with us.

At the end of the evening everyone looked back and said this was a great Christmas, with some suggesting it was one of the best ever. I’m not sure that those questions on little bits of folded up paper didn’t have anything to do with that [oh and my lemon tart, it was a good lemon tart!]

And you do not have to wait until Christmas to give this a try if you never have before. Plan it for the next dinner you host – can be a meal with your family or when you have guests round for an evening. But please make sure that you come back here and let me know how it goes. 

[For another post by my mate Terran on Questions you can ask around the dinner table, especially if you have children, click here]