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Family Dinner Can Be All Fun and Games: Games & Conversation Starters for Family Dinner Fun

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Does dinner conversation sometimes lag in your house? Do you need distractions so that the battles don’t start over the food being served? Or perhaps you just want to some ideas to make family dinners more fun? No matter the reason, we’ve got you covered! We’re sharing our favorite creative and silly family dinner games and conversation starters that will get everyone talking and make dinnertime fun again.

family dinner can be more fun with games and conversation starters

Family Dinners: A Time for Connection

Family dinners offer a valuable opportunity to connect with one another, share about our days, and teach social graces. But if we put too much pressure on all that family dinners are supposed to be, it can start to become a tension-filled time rather than a joyful one. Given how important dinnertime is, we want to make sure that family dinners remain a positive experience for everyone and that’s where games and conversation starters can come in handy – they are a great, easy way to make dinnertime fun.

While family dinner at our house is usually a time of checking in and sharing, there are evenings when we play games or use fun conversation starters to keep the chatting fresh and the dinner table lively. Sometimes we use them just to break the ice and sometimes they will last all dinner long.

Below are some of our favorite dinnertime games and conversation starters. Some help children develop their vocabulary, spelling, or counting skills. Some build their social skills. And some are just plain fun.

family having dinner and playing games

Family Dinner Games

Some of these family dinner games are purely silly and fun, while others can help to strengthen conversation and speaking skills, and even academic skills, too!

Speech Club

Each family member has to talk for 30 seconds (use a timer) without preparation on a topic someone else chooses without saying “um” or “like” or pausing for more than 2 seconds. Subjects can include anything from eggs to Italy to autumn.

Progressive Story

This is a great one for large family gatherings. The family tells a story with everyone at the table going around and adding just one word.  When someone wants to end the story they can say “period.”  The stories can be hilarious (especially if you do what we’ve done and ban “potty talk” at the table, lest all the words involve a bodily function).

“Made You Say”

Scramble founder Aviva Goldfarb’s husband Andrew developed a silly family dinner game that really gets the kids talking about their days.  You ask them different questions that all begin with, “Tell me something that happened today that made you say…”  The last word ranges from “huh?” to “cool!” or “darn!” or “that’s weird.”  It’s amazing how this simple game inspires them to share stories about their day and chime in on dinner table talk. 

Name the Movie or Book

Family members take turns reciting a line from a favorite children’s book or movie (that everyone at the table is familiar with) and others have to guess where it came from. Sometimes we throw in song lyrics to.

Would You Rather?

Take turns posing unappealing (but appropriate) choices to each other. Here are some ideas to get you started: Would you rather walk across hot pavement in bare feet or hold an ice cube for 30 seconds? Would you rather brush your teeth with soap or drink sour milk? Would you rather lose your sense of taste or your sense of smell?

Famous Person Game

One person secretly decides on a famous person (everyone needs to be familiar with who it is) and then acts like that person during dinner until someone guesses to correct famous person. Then it is someone else’s turn!

family eating dinner together

Two Truths and a Tale

Everyone takes turns sharing three things that happened in their day. Two are true and the third isn’t. The rest of the family then has to decide which one is not true.

The Mysterious Disease Game

One person is selected as “The Doctor” and they leave the room while the rest of the people at the table agree on a mysterious illness (e.g., they think they are cats, they can only sing lyrics to songs, they wink every time they talk, etc.). When “The Doctor” returns, s/he asks questions of the “patients” who answer according to their illness but without saying what it is. The game ends when “The Doctor” identifies the mysterious disease (or close enough to it) or when they have asked 20 questions, whichever comes first. Then someone else becomes “The Doctor.”

I’m Going on a Picnic

This is a classic memory game. You take turns going around the table adding items to the picnic basket and repeating all of the items that have already been added to the picnic basket in the correct order. For example, “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing an apple.” “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing an apple and a sandwich.” “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing an apple, a sandwich, and a radio.” “I’m going on a picnic and I am bringing an apple, a sandwich, a radio, and a blanket.” A player is eliminated when they can’t remember the items or put them in the wrong order.

Alphabet Game

“We have young kids – so we do alphabet games. Everyone goes around (in order) and names a word that starts with A, the next person with B, so forth. As they get older, they can also spell the word.”  –Beverly Cook Halperin, Plano, TX

Guess the Animal

“We do an animal guessing game, kind of like twenty questions but with actual answers to keep things easier for the little ones. This works great until my husband picks an animal no one knows, like a wallaroo.” –Trudi Benford, Washington, DC

dreidel game

Spin the Dreidel

“We spin a dreidel to get my almost 4-year-old son to eat. He eats the meat, veggies, starch or drinks water based on what letter the dreidel lands on. My 6-year-old daughter came up with this idea last winter, and it works well.”  –Tracie Cohen, Singapore

Food Mash

“We play a game we call ‘Food Mash.’ It works best with three people. Everyone thinks of a basic ingredient (preferably unprocessed, but certainly no more complicated than a condiment) but keeps the item to themselves. Then we all announce our items and collaboratively try to think up a dish that would be somewhat palatable featuring all of the ingredients (we allow the addition of other minor ingredients). More often than not, we can think of something we’d all eat.”  –Molly Thompson, Bozeman, MT

family dinner

Family Dinner Conversation Starters

Want a great conversation starter at your next family dinner?  Here is a list of some of our favorites:

  • What was a high point of your day and what was a low point?
  • What is the worst food foul you can think of? (Examples might include, eating all of the M&Ms out of trail mix, leaving less than a serving of ice cream in the carton, leaving only one ice cube in the ice cube tray)
  • If dogs could talk, what do you think they would say?
  • If you could pick only one treat to enjoy for the rest of your life what would it be?
  • If you could meet any storybook or novel character who would it be and why?
  • What is a skill you would like to learn and master and why?
  • What was something beautiful that you saw today?
  • What was something kind you did for someone else today?
  • What are you grateful for?
  • What is your favorite thing about our family?
  • If you could do any job for a day, what job would you do?
  • If you couldn’t watch TV or go online for a month, what would you do with that time?
  • What is your favorite family tradition and why?
  • What is the one food you wish you knew how to cook?
  • If you could design your dream treehouse, what features would it have?

There are, of course, some meals where the kids just don’t feel like talking much, and others where they won’t stop interrupting each other and us. But we find the meals where we all happily engage in conversation to be some of the most memorable times for us as a family.

By the way, if you’re having too much fun at the table to end the meal, extend it by serving these delicious Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cornmeal Muffins for dessert.

Want another way to make family dinners more pleasant? Check out The Scramble’s family-friendly meal plans to see just how simple getting dinner on the table can be.

What family dinner games and conversation starters keep your family happily seated and engaged at the table? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

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