Dinner parties are often a mishmash of different people coming together under one roof for refreshing drinks and a tasty, home cooked meal. Because of that, conversations can be nothing but awkward explanations of what everyone does for a living. Lame! Kick things off this way instead.
According to Daniel Menaker, author of A Good Talk, it's best to steer the conversation toward "third things." That means conversation that's not about you, not about them, but some other third topic. So try to get away from questions like "What do you do for a living?" or "How do you know so-and-so?" and bring up a stimulating topic that isn't too controversial.
OK, so what are some good examples of these "third things?" In their book Brunch is Hell: How to Save the World by Throwing a Dinner Party, authors Rico Gagliano and Brendan Francis Newman suggest three topics that always seem to get the ball rolling: science stories, portmanteaus (new words made out of other, real worlds), and unusual art exhibits. These topics are rarely offensive or too controversial, but they still get everyone sharing their thoughts. So, when people start to gather at your next dinner party, whip out the latest scientific study everyone is talking about, or talk about how a "zedonk" is a zebra mixed with a donkey, or mention that time you went to the Museum of Ice Cream.
The other secret to great dinner party conversation? More wine. Cheers!