Melissa and Doug's Family Conversation Starters

What you have here are some great ideas for coming together as a family, having real conversations, especially if that seems awkward (when you have teenagers, talking together as a group can often feel awkward).

 Who would have guessed that this little box of simple questions could become such a fire conversation starter. The only reason I mention fire, is not due to incendiary topics, but because it was when our family started to intentionally increase our communication levels we gathered around our firepit.

The deceptively unassuming appearance of a little round box with the picture of a homey lattice topped pie belies the power of asking the the right questions.

When it comes to helping people share their thoughts, particularly when we aren't used to it, many of us are at a loss. With these little round boxes of questions, that o longer needs to be the case.

Filled to the brim with small round cards that are printed with questions, these starters help immensely when you are sitting down and trying to talk.

You know, it's a little like trying to relax: you overthink it.

But with some coaxing from ready made topics, you are bound to strike upon a few that really get the communication going.

Don't Let These Cards Just Sit

Having received my original Melissa And Doug Conversation Starters as a gift, I had no idea what a golden opportunity was given to me. So we just let them sit, ignored.

Don't Do What We Did

That is what we did after I first used them in a homeschool activity; for awhile they just sat on the shelf.

At the time I didn't realize the components that help communication take place:
  • The setting
  • Playfulness, allowing something to be a game
  • Inclusion of refreshments
  • Cozying up together around a table or fireplace, etc.
These things all help release the flow of conversation.
Above all, I think it was the intentionality of it all. It wasn't a once in a blue moon, "let's try this" activity. We gathered together to talk, to get to know each other better, to increase understanding, on a regular basis through out the week.
And we used Melissa and Doug's Family Dinner Box Of Questions.

Why These Questions?

You could probably make up your own set of questions, but here are why I liked these:
  • They were non-threatening questions
  • The topics were often light-hearted
  • Using someone else's ideas brought an element of a different perspective
  • It made asking questions and talking easy
So, what kind of questions did our family like to talk about? A small sampling...
"What special talent do you wish you possessed?"
"What qualities do you look for in a friend?"
"Have you ever gotten into trouble for something you did not do?"
"Would you want your own family to have a reality TV show?" "Why or why not?"

Perfect Times For Asking ( And Answering ) Questions

Around a bonfire, or a firepit, was an ideal conversation time for us. Another great time is the one suggested in the title of the "Box of Questions: around the dinner table. Or you could make it part of family pizza night, before settling down to watch a favorite movie. Or before a session of board games.

What Could This Do?
I don't really know the answer to that, but in our family I have noticed that conversation is a lot like the discipline of writing; the more you do it, the better you are at it.
I think it is the fact that as we spend more time talking together we become more comfortable with it and as we experience pleasant interactions it primes the pump for us to want to engage more, it builds trust. The kind of questions in this little game also help us see each other in a more approachable way.
It is a small box, a small investment, and all it will really require of you is a little of your time. Maybe like our family, you will find it grows a bumper crop of good times.

This is one edition I would most like to own. Just right for after the holiday feast.

 Another Conversation Starter Idea


Family Game Night

There is some great research behind the idea of building relationships through have a family game night. Conversation starters might be just one of a number of games you would like to include in a group of activities that bring more fun to the table!
5 Reasons For Family Game Night
Start having fun as a family, begin holding a game night and see how much better it is for the family to play together instead of complaints and going off in separate directions.

Christmas Eve With the Family 

Melissa & Doug Christmas Box Of Questions  We like jigsaw to put together puzzles, but wouldn't it be fun to use some of these questions to mellow out during the busy Christmas season?

Melissa & Doug Family Dinner Box of Questions - Faith Edition Find out what everyone thinks about some of the most important questions.

 What About Your Family? 

 Do You Have A Family Game Night Set Up? 

  •  We get together regularly to play games 
  •  We occasionally pull out the games and have a go 
  •  I am sad to say, that we don't play games together 
  •  We do, but our family plays more physical games like touch football 
  •  Not since the kids were little, but I think we might try it again

A Family Game Night Is Fun And Brings Your Family Closer Together How our family makes time for a family game night and how we choose various games and activities to do.

The Season Of The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Now That Everyone Is On The Bandwagon

-Which Ugly Christmas Sweaters Are Tops?

Our moms thought they were cute, we thought they were ugly, but now everyone is in competition to see who has the most outrageously ugly Christmas sweater of all! All in good fun, of course.
Vintage 80s Sparkle Christmas Cats Tacky Acrylic Ugly Sweater

Now that ugly Christmas sweaters are so ugly they're cute, there's less chance of regifting...so you just might have to go ahead and buy one!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party Ugly Sweater Day at TechSmith Rackers

Do You Own Or Wear An Ugly Christmas Sweater???

Top Ugly Sweater Event Points for silly marketing blurbs, too- no holds barred in this competition- it's really ugly.
1st Prize Ugly Sweaters Holiday Contest Button
1st Prize Ugly Sweaters Holiday Contest Button by kat_parrella

A Collection Of The Ugliest Sweaters You Can Buy

Ugly Sweater Party

Invite everyone over for a party- awards, prizes, free drinks for the ugliest sweaters.
Serve ugly food
Get really tacky, use ugly sweaters as placemats underneath trays of food.
What is the right dessert?Fruitcake, mince pie, OK... so people can actually eat: sweater shaped sugar cookies
green 3000000

You win! King of the Ugly Christmas Sweater Club"

"My Vote For Top Ugly Sweater" > King of the Ugly Sweaters Holiday Button
King of the Ugly Sweaters Holiday Button by kat_parrella
Browse more Ugly sweater Buttons

OK, an overgrown elf with the belt hiked up practically to the breastbone, the Peter-Pan-collar look and the worst color of fifties mint green. This gets my vote for Top Ugly Christmas sweater. Actually the whole family could wear matching ugly sweaters with this one. Look Boys and Girls!

Women's Holiday Sweaters

Let's face it, we usually go for cute designs and call them "ugly" This one is really ugly. I'm sorry if you would wear this... um, I mean .... no offense, but there is no right way (or place) to wear this. It's not naughty, it is just.... ugly. You might find the ugliest sweater yet... on...wait for it..."Oh no, not eBay!" Yes. The truly tacky is out there. Maybe made by aliens.

So you have a bargaining chip when he becomes a teen.

"Baby Needs An Ugly Sweater" Take lots of photos. But you didn't need to be reminded, did you?

"Nooooo, Mom, not the ugly sweater pictures, please...not that" "I'll take out the trash without asking, I'll clean my room, I'll stop playing my head banger music for a day...just not the ugly sweater pictures...noooooo"
The sad part is that they will probably love the sweater when they are little.... it is only later that they will forbid facebook tagging of those endearing pictures.

Make your own Ugly Sweater Card

Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties, Trendy Ugly Sweaters... It's Wild!

Why couldn't they leave Thanksgiving alone?
Why Why Why?

Ugly Sweaters on Youtube"

when it hits Youtube, you know it's an ugly situation. There are also photography tips (seriously) on how to have better family group pictures...not that they helped our tribe, but they may save yours from looking like an ugly Christmas sweater convention. [tags] christmas party christmas sweaters christmas sweater ugly sweaters holiday sweaters ugly christmas sweaters holiday sweater ugly holiday sweaters ugly christmas sweater party ugly holiday sweater ugly reindeer sweaters santa sweater cheap ugly christmas sweaters ugly christmas sweater ideas tacky christmas sweater

One Way To Have Happy Thoughts

Today was gray, rainy, and somewhat dreary. I don't usually mind such days, but there are times when sort of pile up, or come when you are just hungry for rays of sunshine. Anyway, I went around the downstairs and starting lighting some candles. I was surprised at how much a little candlelight and fragrance had lifted my spirit!

It called for making a note in this "Happy Thoughts" blog, today.

Of course, these little things are "quick fixes", and in the long run one of the things that gives me a sense of well being is doing something positive for my health. I say one thing, because overall happiness is truly a compilation of a number of lifestyle choices we make, including how we relate to other people, but starting out with better health choices is certainly an important part of life.

On that note my son and I made some smoothies this past weekend, and I fixed a raw broccoli salad for dinner last night. It is the baby steps that matter in the beginning, isn't it?

How's your health? Good I hope. And if it could be better I encourage you to do some of the "little things" suggested today to brighten your outlooks and feeling of wellbeing.

I've Been Busy

They say keeping busy is a good antidote for depression, whether that's true or not I have been keeping busy. Here is one thing I've been doing: designing on Zazzle:
create & buy custom products at Zazzle I have also written loads of lenses at Squidoo on a varied number of projects. Lagging behind, but needing attention has been writing posts for my websites and maintaining them- they needed a lot of background attention this year.

Love Quotes I Like

Out of all the people I've ever met you are the one who makes me draw those silly little hearts on my papers ~Unknown.

I believe in the deep soul-stirring-takeyour breath away-makes me a better me- kinda love ~Unknown.

"Love is not about finding the right person, but creating a right relationship. It's not about how much love you have in the beginning but how much love you build till the end." ~Unknown.

If I tell you I love you, can I keep you forever?

Love is a many splendid thing.

The greatest thing you'll ever learn
Is to love and be loved in return. ~ Natalie Cole

she said, "You're crazy" & he said, "Only for you." ~Unknown.

"You can’t make someone love you, all you can do is be someone who can be loved, the rest is up to the person to realize your worth."~Unknown.

;"Dedicate your life to God, and also choose carefully who you dedicate your love to."

The love we have is God's gift to us, what we do with it is our gift to God.

Love doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to be true.