You walk into a cocktail party, knowing nobody. You make yourself a cocktail, look around the room, and spot another person, silently standing there, sipping their gin and tonic and surveying the scene. S/he looks like a nice, so why not strike up a conversation?
But what do you say? “What up bro?” or “Hey there, beautiful?”
Yeah, that will really get you somewhere.
Typically, when you’re attending a cocktail party where you know no one, coming up with a way to get conversation going is up to you. This usually means a fair share of queries like “How do you know the host?” or “Are you from around here?” The next time you host a cocktail or dinner party, take a cue from the Purcell Sisters who always plan a conversation kick-starter that ties in with the party’s theme to ensure their guests make new friends and have a good time.
To ready their cocktail party conversation kick-starters, the Purcell Sisters will set up a table near the door with blank name tag stickers, markers, and the pre-determined question. They'll ask each guest to write down their answers on the sticker before putting it on. If you’re hosting a dinner party, you could also set out a small piece of paper at each place and ask the guests to write down the answers during dinner. In between the dinner and dessert courses (or earlier, if conversation lulls), stand up and ask guests to share their answers (picking on them, if necessary). More often than not, there are a couple of answers that will inject new life into the conversation.
Here are some conversation kick-starters to try:
• You are stuck on a deserted island, and you can only take three things. What would they be?
• If your life was made into a movie, who would star as you — and why?
• Where and when did you enjoy your most favorite meal?
• What do you value more, intelligence or common sense?
• If you could only eat five different foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?
• If you could do anything you wanted tonight (anywhere, for any amount of money), what would you do and why?
• What did you want to be when you were growing up?
• What is the riskiest thing you have ever done?
• What did you get in trouble for most as a child?
• You’re driving down the highway in your dream car/convertible. What’s coming out of the speakers?
We're looking for your best and worst conversation starters! Share your ideas with us below — or email us.