Anatomy of a Dinner Party: a day in the life of a hospitalityaholic

What Happens When The Conversation Doesn’t Flow?

Written by Patti on March 12th, 2010

Good Morning, Darlings!

Now, of course the above never happens at my parties, as I am such a sparkling hostess, but I have heard of it happening. Golly, the two sets of in-laws don’t have a thing in common, the people you wanted to set up to meet are both suddenly super shy or, God forbid, there is that one guest that just will not shut up.

Do I have the solution? You know I do! One day recently while posting the blog to Twitter (if you would like to follow me, I’m DinnerPartyP), I noticed a new follower, TableTopics. The name intrigued me and so I followed their links and found their uber-cool website with their even cooler product. Topics – for the dinner table! I love it! And, dang it, why didn’t I think of this first?

After perusing the website (party menus! music suggestions! my favorite things!), I emailed them to ask a few questions and order some TableTopics for myself. Their lovely representative, Marisa, was so very kind to respond to my questions.

Anything you could tell me about that isn’t on the website?

Well, we have a couple new items (specifically, two cubes, a to-go set, and a journal) that are so new that they have yet to be published on our site! They are slated to go up within the next couple weeks so be on the look out. Until then, here’s the scoop: we’re introducing a Slumber Party and Americana cube — 135 questions (per cube) –as well as a Road Trip to-go set and a Teen Journal, filled with topics to write about and prompts for the day.

Another great thing that we try to let our TableTopics fans know about that isn’t ON the site? Our Twitter and Facebook page! We post daily —with topics of the day, promos, and insider scoop. (Here are the links: and

How did you come up with the idea of TableTopics?

In December 2002, Cristy Clarke, founder of TableTopics, was on her way to a Christmas cocktail party, trying to think of interesting conversation starters because she couldn’t face another evening of small talk that went nowhere. Her experiment was a complete success, and by morning she was writing questions to test on her three daughters at their family dinner. The successful result was TableTopics, a collection of conversation starters meant to spark fun, interesting, and meaningful discussions around the dinner table, at parties, on dates, on road trips-wherever!

How does TableTopics come up with the questions?

It’s a very hands-on, interactive process – and yes, lots of brainstorming. Cristy and the TableTopics team want all the questions to be genuine, relative, and something that you would have fun answering and engaging others with. In some cases, we even enlist the help of family friends, Cristy’s nieces, and the Julia Morgan School (a private girls’ school in Oakland, CA) to help create topics for the Teen Journal.

What’s the swankiest dinner party you’ve ever been to?

There have been many swanky dinners – weddings, benefits, friends’ birthdays… 🙂 But some of the BEST dinners parties I’ve been to – are the more intimate, casual ones where we can joke around and of course, whip out our favorite editions of TableTopics!

There you go, Darlings! Wouldn’t this make the best hostess gift? And with so many editions to choose from, you know I will be a frequent visitor to their website.

Not that I need it. 🙂

xoxo, Patti


5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Lynn says:

    I love these. I use them at home and at work as ice-breakers for creative meetings! I’ve also given them as gifts. The different categories are fun.

  2. Patti says:

    Lynn, how wonderful to hear that you actually have these. I am super stoked about buying some. xoox, P

  3. Clint says:

    What a great idea! Thanks for the info.

  4. LizR says:

    I think I may have seen these at the perimeter location of Alon’s…they had something similar but I didn’t have time to investigate.

    Neat idea!

  5. Patti says:

    Hi Liz, I will give them a call. So much easier than waiting for it to come in the mail, yes?