As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

{31 Days of Hospitality} Day 11 ~ Conversation

I am hosting a party and I'd like for you all to come!

Join us for A Linky Party!

Where: Right here at Thinking About Home
When: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Time: All day long!
What to bring: YOUR own best hospitality tips!

I am inviting YOU to write a post sharing your own tips for hospitality.  Then come over to Thinking About Home on October 18, and link up.  It'll be a fun way for all of us to share our secrets of making hospitality work for us.  You don't have a blog?  No problem!  Just write your tip(s) in the comments section that day, and I'll remind everyone to take a peek there too.  

Oh, I do love a party!

And now, on to today's topic... 

On Tuesday, we talked about challenges to hospitality, and I shared some of mine.

# 2:  Worrying about keeping the conversation flowing.  

Some of my family members are probably shaking their heads at the thought of me being speechless.  But I honestly worry about having people around my table and then running out of things to talk about!  Of course, that concern is not an issue with family, or with close friends. But what about the times when you invite someone you don't know very well?  Or an opportunity arises in which you are entertaining a stranger?  Yikes!  What can a host or hostess do to avoid those awkward moments in which nobody speaks?  

This is something that I must pre-think, depending on the group of people I am inviting.  But if I am concerned about the possibility of conversation stalls, then I must have a few ideas in place before the crash comes.

Here are a few of my keep-the-conversation-flowing strategies.  

Learn from someone who does it well. 

A couple of years ago, I was invited to a ladies' game party hosted by my friend Barbara.  She had invited five ladies, and no one except for Barbara knew all of the other guests.  Because of my own tendency to be shy with new people, I took special notice of how Barbara drew each person into the conversation.  She did it flawlessly; I doubt anyone except me even noticed how intentional she was.  But she asked the right questions, brought up things that she knew the guests had in common with one another, and encouraged stories from one lady who was quite the story teller as we all howled with laughter.  If a particular person had not said anything for a while, she'd ask that person a question to bring them back into the flow of conversation.  And she listened attentively to whomever was talking.  

I observed Barbara carefully that evening, and learned some new strategies from an excellent hostess.  Is there someone you know who is able to include everyone in a group?  Watch and learn from that host/hostess.  

Invite others who will bridge the gap.  

If you are entertaining people who you don't know well, consider inviting other guests who know them better than you do.  Or invite someone who is an easy conversationalist to be a part of the group.  Although I am probably the chattier one, Ron is much better at talking to strangers or new friends than I am, so I often defer to him in party time conversations.  

Don't be uncomfortable with an occasional lull.  

Although you don't want your conversation to totally stall, there is nothing wrong with some quiet moments, when a topic has reached its end.  Nervous chatter filling every minute is not preferable to a temporary lull.  Learn to relax and let the conversation flow naturally.  

Pre-plan some conversation topics.

Before a gathering, I have found it helpful to think of a few specific things to talk about.  

On Kati's sixteenth birthday, she invited three friends, one of whom had not met the other two. The party started with dinner together, including Ron, Bekah, and me.  To break the ice and to insure that everyone was part of the conversation, I had planned some questions.  Beginning with the birthday girl, we went around the table and each answered the two simple questions: 1) What is your middle name and is there any significance to that name? and 2) Do you collect anything?  (I already knew that each of the girls had collections, so I knew that was a safe question to ask.)  Well, you have never heard such enthusiastic talk around a table!  The simple questions led to long explanations and lots of rabbit trails, and there was not a dull moment among these new friends.  At the end of the evening, the girls planned to be Facebook friends and within an hour of returning to their homes, Facebook was buzzing with interchanges between them.

You could ask questions like "What is your earliest childhood memory? or "What would you do for a living if you weren't doing what you're doing? or "How did you come to know the Lord?"  

Even at family parties, it is sometimes fun to plan a few topics.  We have shared "the best lesson my father taught me" on Father's Day, and "one thing I like about  fill-in-the-name " at a birthday celebration.  

The key is not to make anyone uncomfortable with a topic, but think it through ahead of time, and consider the individuals who you have invited.  

Remember the purpose for your hospitality.  

Hopefully, your purpose will be "Not to Impress, But to Bless."  

If that is your purpose, then you will realize that It's Not About Me, and you will relax and enjoy your guests, making an effort to include everyone, and you will enjoy the connections of conversation.  


  1. First of all, I'm snagging your button to put in my sidebar. Perhaps that way I can remember to show up for the party. Good tips about conversation. I'm glad that you added the one about not worrying about a temporary lull. It is good to observe someone who does it well!

  2. I'd like to join in. Like Vee, I hope I remember. I'll snag the button later - am off to work just now.

  3. You are so right about a short lull in a conversation is preferrable to nervous chatter. I tend to be very... cautious... around people who never allow for a few moments of silence here and there. I've never thought of pre-planning topics or questions to draw people into the conversation. Good idea!

  4. Cheryl, our Kate had a GRAND time at that Sweet 16 party! Great conversation, and lots of Jane Austen-y fun!

    Kim :-)


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