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Getting strangers at a function to talk to each other

Primrose Posts: 10,625 Forumite
Name Dropper First Post First Anniversary I've been Money Tipped!
Arranging a milestone wedding anniversary celebration ( fixed seating at tables) with friends from various parts of our lives who won't necessarily know each other. Looking for innovative ideas, slips of paper with a question or puzzle on it,etc. to put on tables to help people break the ice and get talking to each other.


  • Guest101
    Guest101 Posts: 15,764 Forumite
    I'd suggest alcohol, plenty of it
  • tea_lover
    tea_lover Posts: 8,261 Forumite
    Surely the people who would happily speak to others will do so anyway, and the people who won't would find this the most uncomfortable thing ever?
  • Lambyr
    Lambyr Posts: 437 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    edited 23 August 2016 at 5:17PM
    You could always start a debate on a contentious issue...

    However, you're probably not looking for an argument to break out. Do you know enough about the people coming to arrange the tables by some sort of shared interest? People generally try and find common ground when meeting new people for the first time so if you've got a couple of big badger enthusiasts then put them on a table together and they'll be talking about Brian May within minutes.

    If they need more of a prod then there's a more hands-on approach... greet everyone at the table "How are you doing?"... then maybe something like "Oh Philip, I hear you just got back from Portugal? You must tell me about it later!" or something similar... that usually helps encourage things and then Philip will probably talk about it to the people nearby.
    She would always like to say,
    Why change the past when you can own this day?
  • missbiggles1
    missbiggles1 Posts: 17,481 Forumite
    First Post Combo Breaker
    Won't you seat the people from the different bits of your life with others from the same bit?
  • Torry_Quine
    Torry_Quine Posts: 18,840 Forumite
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    tea_lover wrote: »
    Surely the people who would happily speak to others will do so anyway, and the people who won't would find this the most uncomfortable thing ever?

    I thought that as well. The idea of suggested topics would put me right off. :eek:
    Lost my soulmate so life is empty.

    I can bear pain myself, he said softly, but I couldna bear yours. That would take more strength than I have -
    Diana Gabaldon, Outlander
  • melanzana
    melanzana Posts: 3,953 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker I've been Money Tipped!
    You are worrying far too much.

    If people accept your invitation they will know they may be sitting with potential strangers. Happens at weddings too, not just anniversaries!

    Those who are not comfortable with that will stay at home and send a pressie instead, or just a card, or whatever.

    Enjoy the event, it's up to the people attending to enjoy it for you and for themselves.
  • Top_Girl
    Top_Girl Posts: 1,211 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    As above, not sure this is the kind of thing you can force.

    At a push, I'd have (some, not loads of) decorations with photos of the two of you at varying stages of your relationship, with friends and family who will be at the function. Therefore someone looking to strike up conversation will have a ready made starting point?
  • oystercatcher
    oystercatcher Posts: 2,331 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Post Photogenic First Anniversary
    We went to an afternoon tea party for one of the neighbour's 60th wedding anniversary. Their daughter had organised an optional quiz based around the year of the marriage and things happening in the couple's life and their hobbies. This got us talking to the other neighbours we were sitting with.
    Decluttering, 20 mins / day Jan 2024 2/2 
  • DCFC79
    DCFC79 Posts: 40,598 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Something like what Lambyr says could work, bring football up as a topic, its not failed me yet to strike up a conversation.
  • Nicki
    Nicki Posts: 8,166 Forumite
    I agree with others that you can expect people to be sufficiently well rounded socially to be able to talk to each other over dinner.

    If you are really keen on having an ice breaker though, you could do something along the lines of a competition which makes people talk to each other. Along the lines of: find the best man at our wedding, find the friend who broke his leg at a barn dance, find a friend who doesn't speak English as their first language, who has written a book, etc etc. Though expect most people not to engage in the game and don't try to force it or be disappointed if no one has completed the task by the end of the meal. Personally though if I were at a party and this kind of thing was foisted on me, I'd probably only make a token effort with it, as although it could be a conversation starter, it would also make conversations much shorter and formulaic.
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