Some things are fairly easy to get back into after a long time of abstaining, like riding a bicycle or knowing all the lyrics to a song you loved but haven’t listened to in the last two decades. (Here’s looking at you, “Stay” by Lisa Loeb.) But what about when you find that something you once thought you had a knack for… is suddenly no longer in your wheelhouse?
Take, for example, socializing. Before the pandemic, a lot of us had perfected the art of it—spending hours with friends over food and drinks, engaging in long, meandering conversations that kept us engaged and interested. But with COVID lockdowns implemented, that all came to a halt—and after more than a year of hanging out only with immediate family members, roommates, or in many cases, yourself, socializing can seem a little trickier than it used to.
Now that COVID restrictions have been lifted in most parts of the country, it’s time to get back into the conversation (if you feel comfortable doing so, that is—it’s totally fine if you’re not quite there yet, too). Whether you’re hosting or are headed to a dinner party, a family barbecue, or a work happy hour, you’ve probably heard a lot of covid party ideas (or even social distancing ideas). Now, we’re here with some smart and easy conversation starters that are sure to get people talking.
“Chincoteague” by Paperless Post
Conversation starters for dinner with friends
Friends are people you’ve met and become close with due to some sort of shared experience, right? Maybe you went to school together, maybe you played on a co-ed softball team, maybe you bonded over your distrust of the weirdly chewy mac-and-cheese in the office cafeteria of your first job out of college. Either way, the key to keeping and building on these friendships is by adding new experiences and memories to the mix.
So what can you talk about with friends who’ve also done next to nothing for the last year-plus? The good news is that even though we weren’t sharing experiences with each other during quarantine, many of us actually spent our days and nights in similar ways—making the “during-times” a good place to start in terms of conversation. We’ve got the perfect covid party ideas for you and your friends—plan a dinner party and have at it.
What TV shows did you binge-watch during quarantine?
It’s not a stretch to say that during COVID, even more people than usual have spent a *lot* of time streaming and binge-watching TV shows. If you and your friends watched different shows, asking them about which ones they loved and which they hate-watched is a great way to get non-algorithm-based recommendations for yourself and find out which ones aren’t worth your screen time. If it turns out your friends watched the same series as you, you can chat about what you liked and what you didn’t. (P.S. If you and your friends are more into reading than streaming, that works, too!)
Where will you travel when everything opens back up?
If your friends are the traveling type, they’ve undoubtedly been planning a slew of fantasy vacations during their time cooped up at home. And even if they don’t have the spreadsheets to prove it—or the funds to actually book anything right away—it can still be fun to talk about the places you want to take a trip to once it’s totally safe and borders are opened back up, or even plan a group vacation together. Mykonos, anyone?
What accounts are you obsessed with on TikTok or Instagram?
Love it or hate it, many of us spent plenty of time on our phones, scrolling through social media during quarantine—even if we didn’t have many exciting day-to-day things to post about, ourselves. As a conversation starter, ask your friends which Instagram or TikTok accounts they can’t get enough of lately. You might just end up with a new favorite meme account, discover some home design inspiration, or master the latest viral dance moves. And by the way—if you run out of things to talk about, learning TikTok choreography (and then posting it, obviously) can be a fun, silly, and energizing way to get people engaged with one another.
“White” by Paperless Post
Conversation starters for family get-togethers
While there’s a good possibility you’ve spent a large portion of the past year and a half with at least some members of your immediate family, it’s likely been quite a while since you held a conversation with anyone in your extended fam. But now that Thanksgiving, Christmas, Eid, and Rosh Hashanah (plus many more) are back on for the most part, you’ll need to arm yourself with conversation starters that steer clear of the common pitfalls like politics, money, etc. Here are some suggestions.
What did you cook the most during quarantine?
This is a good question to ask for a few reasons: Everyone loves food, and everyone was eating exclusively at home during the lockdown. Meaning that people who, in the past, might have had to YouTube how to hard boil an egg (*raises hand*) were suddenly churning out luscious loaves of sourdough on the daily—and they most definitely will want to talk about it. Bonus: Because you’re asking people in your family, you might even end up learning about an old family recipe you’ve either never tried, or have forgotten about from your childhood.
What was your favorite age and why?
Depending on how close to and comfortable you feel with your family members, “What was your favorite age and why?” can be a good conversation starter that will help you get to know them on a deeper level, too. It’s especially great to ask an older person who’s got a whole bunch of ages to choose from and can tell you more about a certain time in their life that was so happy and exciting for them—possibly before you were even born.
What was your dream job when you were a kid?
This is a potentially funny conversation starter, and a way to learn more about your family members. Depending on what time period they were children, their answers might be about professions you’ve never heard of before. It’s also a fun way to revisit your own childhood, and possibly unearth similar interests you share with people in your family.
“Pineapple Party” by Linda and Harriet for Paperless Post
Conversation starters for office happy hour
Now that so many people are going back to the office, you might find yourself attending or even organizing a happy hour or field day get-together with your coworkers—many of whom you most likely haven’t seen off-screen in a *very* long time. If you started a new job remotely during the pandemic, you may have never met your colleagues in person at all. Here are some convo ideas that’ll get the chat flowing while still maintaining a certain level of professionalism. (Psst… If you’re in charge of the drink order, here’s a handy guide to choosing the right sparkling wine for your group.)
What was your first job?
Resumés can be fascinating things—and a great way to get to know the people you work with every day. Early jobs tend to be convenient and somewhat random, so you never know what you’ll learn. So next time you’re picking teammates for your annual company-wide softball game, you’ll know to call that guy several desks over who delivered neighborhood newspapers ‘til 9th grade.
What did you miss most about being in the office?
Was it the watercooler gossip? The free coffee? Or just having a reason to get out of the house several times a week? With lockdown life not far behind us, this is a conversation starter topic everyone is sure to have an opinion on.
If you could live in any time period, when would it be and why?
This is one of those interesting conversation starters that you can ask anyone, but it’s especially good for breaking the ice with coworkers who may have different answers and perspectives than you’d expect. Just be sure to keep your own job in mind: You might not want to admit you’d like to live in a time before Instagram if you’re a social media manager.
Conversation topics to avoid
If you’re in a group setting, it’s generally best to avoid these pandemic-related conversation topics (unless you’re 110% sure the people you’re with feel the same).
— Don’t ask whether they’re vaccinated, or why they chose not to if they are not.
— Avoid the topic of COVID, like if they contracted the disease, know anyone who had it, or if they know anyone who passed away from the pandemic.
— Steer clear of hygiene. Don’t ask if they washed their hands before shaking yours. If you’re nervous, wash or sanitize your hands as soon as you’re able to.
— Don’t talk about politics. Duh!
“Block Party” by Paperless Post and “Thanksgiving Essentials” by Paperless Post
Invitations that get people talking
Once you feel confident again in your conversation tactics, it’s time to (safely, and if you feel comfortable) round up your friends, family, or coworkers for a good old-fashioned get-together with as little stress involved as possible. And with Paperless Post, hosting is easier—and more fun—than ever. Have some great covid party ideas? Start with the invitation and choose from hundreds of beautiful, clever, and customizable online invitations that’ll get your guests psyched to attend. You can even create an animated Flyer, which can be sent via text, email, or WhatsApp. Whatever style you choose, all Paperless Post invitations come with RSVP tracking included, so you’ll feel more prepared for your party.
Whatever covid party ideas come to life, don’t think too hard about hosting. Just “RSVP” yes to entertaining again, and let us take care of making sure all of your guests do, too.