My colleagues joked that we had to get all of our COVID conversations out of the way before our Christmas dinner due to an anti-vaxxer coworker. But I had already decided I didn’t want to talk about work, politics, or the virus. And after we said good-night to everybody, my partner told me that it was a success to do my list of icebreaker questions. Yeaaa!

All you have to do, my friend, is just a little planning. I took the list of quirky questions (from The Art of Noticing) that I shared in a previous post and used my phone to reference them during pasta and pizza. And voilΓ  ~ we went on tangents, and even looked up more questions when we ran out, and kept the conversation pleasantly flowing (even without alcohol!) for hours.

More ideas:

// Google’s Year in Search Trends for 2020 in the United States is another fun one. You could create a guessing/quiz game of what the Top 5 searches were for People, Beauty how to’s, Sports, and so on.

For example, what was the #1 searched recipe? >>> Sourdough bread! Isn’t that funny? It’s true, everyone was baking during #stayathome!

✴️ People love games. Apparently, after Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, playing chess is on the rise. Do you play any games regularly? I do! UNO!

// Thought Catalogue has come up with 300+ Things to Talk About with Anyone by categories like feelings, nature, astrology, but I’d avoid news and social media and conspiracy theories because you never know what might set folks off. (Plus, aren’t we just sick to death of all the negativity?)

✴️ Some of these questions might seem rather simple and maybe even silly, so you’re thinking these won’t work, but you’d be surprised. Every week I start my classes with these kinds of questions to get my students mingling and talking. You’ll almost always learn something new about others and yourself.

// I shared this free app on FB that allows you to cartoon yourself and was surprised by how many friends loved it. Give it a try πŸ€ͺ… I wonder if it would do pets or animals.

Yup. That’s me! but not me, definitely not, and then my Pocahontas look.

// I’m pleased to see a new trend on the rise, compilations of positive and good news. I hope this continues outside of 2020 because I think we need to find common ground more than ever.

Gone are the days of shared benchmarks and milestones (getting married, having kids, buying a house, etc.) or even a shared culture since we can consume what we want, when we want and don’t have to tune into the same TV or radio stations.

So, take some time away from the pressure to ‘be informed’ and digest good news stories of 2020.

✴️ This was my first full year of subscribing to daily good news for my inbox, and I think it made a difference in feeling more balanced about world events. I chose a good year, too, don’t you think?

Where is Leif Penguinson?

// It was also an extraordinary year for science which reminded me of one of my popular blog posts. I shared Nature magazine’s Leif Penguinson who is hidden in spectacular nature photos for their newsletters. You can find the latest Leif photograph in the science link or you can check out my post to see more examples.

✴️ Pictures can also be a great way to create engagement. I often use photos in the classroom to get my students to discuss topics. It feels less intimidating than face-to-face somehow; I guess it acts as a buffer, so to speak. Pun intended!

Wishing you all the best. Hope these helped to bring a little levity and light to your holiday season. πŸ’–

What are your ideas for creating more positive interactions and conversations beyond 2020?

19 replies on “πŸŽ„ How to have better interactions this holiday season

  1. Thank you for all the cool tips, Lani – I’m sure am sick of talking politics and the virus! Love the cartoon app – always wanted to see how I look as a Simpson! πŸ˜‰ There’s a similar one where you’re matched with a Disney character – you’d probably end up Pocahontas again. πŸ˜‰
    Love, love, love looking for Leif Penguinson! Took me some time, but now I can spot him in every shot – yay! πŸ˜€
    By the way, just subscribed to your newsletter. πŸ˜‰
    Wishing you a peaceful and Merry Christmas, dear friend! xoxo ❀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank YOU! Looking for Leif is like looking for Where’s Waldo? or my many failed attempts at the Magic Eye posters πŸ˜›

      Yeah, I’m either Pocahontas or Mulan, and since they are both bad-ass princesses, I’ll take it.

      And mahalo (thank you in Hawaiian) for subscribing πŸ™‚ I hope you enjoy reading them! Ho, ho, ho, and Merry Christmas, Sarah! xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pocahontas and Mulan are awesome!! In fact my favorite kind of princesses. πŸ˜‰

        Mahalo for being my friend, and I look forward to your newsletter!

        Wishing you a healthy, creative and happy New Year!!! xxx

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Just played UNO with my guys last night! No one has to look up the rules–and Mom’s smart enough to win once in a while! I’m lost in the chess craze, since I’ve never learned, but one of my boys is quite good at it (I’m told). Here’s to fun and games, even when the going gets tough. Merry Christmas to you, Lani! Crossing my fingers for a new year great year of writing–and living–ahead, for both of us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Beautifully said. Thanks, Rebecca. Hope you and your family are enjoying the holiday season. Looking forward to enjoying a full writing year journey with you too! Christmas cheers!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. You never disappoint with coming up with quirky posts and ideas, Lani!
    I can remember when I was a student how my friends and I had monthly dinner parties to which we had to dress up. One person was in charge of the meal (usually themed and everyone did their best to better the previous one), and another had to come up with a topic(s) to discuss. We all had our turn, and it was so much fun.
    Wishing you a joyous Festive Season.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, you too! Ahhh, themed parties are SO much fun. Great ideas all around. Maybe one day I’ll be part of regular gatherings again ~ Covid aside, I feel like a hermit crab the older I get!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. We all need a break and I hope this holiday folks will take advantage and immerse themselves in the beauty of the ordinary and everyday. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Whoa Lani I love these conversation starters in the Google doc they are amazing!! πŸ‘πŸ‘ I will definitely use them. Interesting you say about anti vaxxer colleagues, one of my friends is like this and it has made it a bit awkward. I have managed to avoid the topic so far though. Thank you for yet another insightful post πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I should try that cartoon meme transformation. Maybe this tool is better. I gave up on another tool awhile ago.

    Gawd, 300 topics for conversation. Mind-bending. Human beings think too much. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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