Most of us have been there — caught on the couch next to a never-before-seen woman at our cousin’s baby shower or barricaded against the bar between two dudes at our best friend’s wedding. We politely chat about where everyone lives and works. Then we’re left to awkwardly stare at the floor before excusing ourselves to get another drink while still holding a half-full beverage. Whether you’re seated next to a stranger or forced to talk to someone by your mom, we’ve got surefire segues and creative conversation starters to turn a brief and boring Q&A session into a non-cringeworthy convo. And all you have to do is ask a few simple questions.
1. Ask how they know the host, then ask:
Do you have any funny stories about him/her?
2. Ask where they’re from, then ask:
What’s the most touristy thing to do in your hometown?
3. Ask where they work, then ask:
What’s the strangest job you’ve ever had?
4. Ask what they’re doing for an upcoming holiday, then ask:
What’s your favorite childhood memory from that holiday?
5. Ask if they’ve been on a trip recently, then ask:
Do you have any recommendations of things to see or do if I ever go?
If the following topics come up in conversation, try these follow-up questions:
6. If you’re talking about popular movies/TV shows, ask:
What was the last show you binge-watched?
7. If you’re talking about kids, ask:
When you were a kid, what were your favorite toys?
8. If you’re talking about their significant other, ask:
What did you do on your first date?
9. If you’re talking about college, ask:
Who’s your college’s most interesting celebrity alum?
10. If you’re talking about current events, ask:
Did you hear about…? (Be sure to brush up on current events before going to the party, obvs, and avoid the taboo triplets: sex, religion and politics.)