Bridging the Gap

Nov 12, 2019 at 11:25 am by adminjen


The holidays are a special time of gathering family and friends that we hold dear. As hosts, we often spend all of our time finding the perfect time, place, décor, and menu for the gathering and sigh with relief once everyone has arrived and is seated. The truth is that the heavy lifting is over with, but the intentionality is not. Our human nature is to gravitate towards those people who are like us, including by age group, hence the infamous ‘kids table.’ This holiday season you have the chance to set your guests up for successful interactions with family and friends of all ages.

Be purposeful about seating and task assignments.

This one deserves some forethought. Before your guests arrive, spend time thinking through who you task with the assignment of cultivating conversations between people. Ideally, this request will go to someone who knows the most people at the gathering or is just in general an outgoing individual. If your guests will be seated, then plan seating assignments carefully. Think about who may not naturally get much time together and place them together. If possible, include kids at the table with the adults.

Observe meaningful traditions.

Pay homage to relatives and friends you have shared life with through honoring traditions. Favorite recipes, songs, and movies are a few of the ways you can keep a thread of the past going in to the future. The holidays often give us time with family and friends that extends beyond a meal so have some ideas of things to do together, before, and after dinner. Have grandpa ask “Alexa” to play his favorite music before dinner. Winding down after dinner? That’s a good time to ask your great aunt to jot down her recipe for the pie she brought. Having the older generations teach the younger generations keeps traditions alive. If you don't have any family traditions, let this be the year that you start a new one.

Give thanks together.

Having each person share what they are thankful for at any gathering will bring about good conversation. You may even want to have conversation starters like: Name one thing you appreciate about someone in the room or what is one compliment you have never paid to someone in the room. For more great conversation starters, check out our blog on

Serve together.

There is no better way to enjoy the holiday season than by serving together as a family or group of friends. There are always needs all around us and serving together can make for a wonderful way to give back to the community, together.

Laugh together.

Pull out old photo albums and ask questions about those photos and the people in them. Look at newer digital photos that the older generations may not have seen. You could even make a new digital scrapbook together. Play games (both board and video), and have the older/younger ones teach each other how to play. Both of these activities are bound to bring about laughter and fun interactions!

For more ideas on how to plan for a wonderful family gathering, check out our Thanksgiving Episode (Episode 1) of the Steel Magnolias Podcast.

Lainie Stubblefield and Laura Beth Peters (Co-Hosts of the Steel Magnolias Podcast) Available on Apple Podcasts,