Holiday Tip: Seven Things to Talk About

by | Dec 6, 2008 | Julie | 4 comments

Suddenly it’s December and perhaps you will be going to some kind of party or gathering (tonight maybe even) and you are kind of dreading it a little because you don’t know anyone that well or it’s a work party and so you can’t totally let your guard down or whatever. My mother-in-law long ago started a tradition of coming up with seven conversation starters before you go to a party, and this has totally helped us. Dave and I sometimes will sit in the car outside a party coming up with seven things.

I don’t mean conversation starters like some awful party game where you say, “What would you do with a million dollars?” or something. I’m really just talking about something from your everyday life or current events that you can bring up if suddenly you’re standing with someone and not saying anything. Somehow seven is exactly the right number. I don’t think we’ve ever used all seven, but if you come up with seven that’s enough for your tired old brain to remember in a time of conversational desperation, and also presumably will be a diverse enough set of topics that you’ll have something appropriate and maybe even something that seamlessly flows from what someone else said, before you were all standing around awkwardly in silence (ok, so that’s not so seamless a flow, but still).

If I were coming up with seven things today, it might be something like this:

  1. My neighbor Adriane told me about this show at the Boston ICA where this artist, Tara Donovan, makes things out of cups and paper plates and scotch tape, and should I bring the boys there because it would blow their minds to see all these awesome things made from ordinary objects, but then would my whole house be filled with scotch tape sculptures?
  2. I made chocolate chip cookies that are supposedly the best cookies ever because you let the dough sit in the fridge for a day. Apparently all the top chocolate chip cookie makers do this. (See post tomorrow for more information on this.)
  3. We recently watched season one of Flight of the Conchords and I loved it.
  4. There is currently a book fair at Henry’s school, and the little flyer they sent home of books was an odd assortment of movie tie-ins and sticker books, but very few of what I would actually call “books.”
  5. I recently started a blog.
  6. My neighbor Brian (husband to Adriane, they were at Thanksgiving and we had one million excellent conversations) was telling me about this study where they found that apparently fruits and vegetables and plants can tell if you’re about to cut them in two, but they freak out much less if you warn them first.
  7. I just finished my Digital Libraries class and it was very interesting but I’m glad it’s over. I had to create my own digital library which was fun but also kind of a pain. I suddenly realized at the end of the class that about half the original class had dropped out, and I don’t really know why.

Anyway, so that’s a list I just came up with right this second, and maybe some are duds but there are some things in there that could carry a conversation for a few minutes at least, assuming your conversation partner is sentient and willing.


  1. Christina

    Wow- I am very intrigued by #6. However I think you’d have to carefully consider the company before just randomly coming out with that one!

  2. sarah

    An even better reason to take them to the ICA is family day the last saturday of every month – we’ve done this the last 2 months. Check out my blog entry called Yay for the ICA – I think it’s from September to read all about it. Two other reasons you should come visit us besides the awesome ICA:
    1) we just got a membership to the Mudeum of Science and it is AWESOME, Henry would absolutely love it. We were there for 3 hours yesterday. And, in the summer, the DeCordova Sculpture Garden… thats in my blog too – “Run, don’t Walk”. Another place that would be right up your boys alley.
    Come on down!

  3. Emily

    Well! THAT’S a MUCH better use of the gearing-up-for-the-party time than changing your clothes 19 times! I will try it.

  4. Julie

    Christina: the whole vegetables-feeling-pain conversation was very interesting. Brian also admitted that he wasn’t sure about bringing it up, and what our reaction would be, but my mom had heard about the study too, so it all somehow sounded very scientific. When I have time (in 2020) I’m going to try to find some articles about it.

    Sarah: I need to move outside my comfort zone and take the troops to Boston more often (like, ever). I used to go with Henry but haven’t since we added more. Though I may defer until summertime.


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