You know those dinner parties that come off just perfectly? Of course, the food was wonderful, the wine was divine, the music and decor both spot-on. But when you really look back, what mattered most was the conversation between guests. We bet thinking about that conversation was fairly low on the host's to-do list, but fostering an atmospher of conversation and connecction can make your get-together memorable.

We turned to writer and humorist Henry Alford for advice. Alford admits that, while it seems geeky to think of pre-arranging conversation prompts, it's actually a terrific way to get people talking and sharing stories about their lives. This may simply break the ice or could be what you need to take the party up a notch. If you find your holiday conversation at an impasse, considering encouraging some interaction using some of these questions. (Psst. A few drinks may not hurt either. Check out these cocktail recipe suggestions.)

Conversation Starters from Henry Alford

  • What was the best thing you ate this year?

  • What new friends did you make this year?

  • What do you wish you were doing more of in your life?

  • What was the most helpful invention of the past 100 years?

  • What was the most destructive?

  • What are the first three things you would do if you were President?

  • Who would you cast in the starring role of a movie about your mother?

  • Describe your own version of heaven.

  • In a world with laser surgery, space travel, and aerosol cheese... why hasn't anyone invented a pill that makes you feel like you got a good night's sleep?

  • How might the world be made better if, outside of crises, the entire country had a 24 hour-long global moratorium on talking?

Some additional conversation starters from The Splendid Table

  • What do you like most about yourself?

  • Did you ever get into trouble as a kid? 

  • Did you/do you like school? 

  • Who was your most memorable teacher?

  • Tell the story of your first kiss.

  • If you could do anything, now, what would you do? 

  • What age were you when you really knew who you were?

  • What was your first job? 

  • Do you have any phobias? 

  • What do you find the most attractive in the opposite sex?

  • Do you like to flirt?

Feel free to leave some of your favorite conversation starters in the comments section below or share with us on The Splendid Table social media: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.