Making Dinner Party Conversation with The Penny Game

I’ve been hearing more and more from people who are intimidated by the thought of opening their home to guests. I guess the meal (planning and cooking) is enough pressure, but on top of that, people worry about “what to say,” or how to really get to know new friends.

It does take risk and courage to open our homes, so for those worried about “conversation,” today I’m sharing a fun, easy idea for how to break the ice, or get the conversation rolling.

It’s called The Penny Game.

What you need:
-1 penny for each guest
-Water goblet or wine glass for each guest

This fun conversation starter involves rounding up pennies with dates that roughly correspond with the childhood (and beyond) years of your guests.

How to play:
1. The hostess selects a penny for each guest and places it under the water goblet where that person will sit.

2. Once dinner begins, each guest takes their turn looking at the date on their penny and shares something significant from their life from that year.

Let’s say you’ve played this game before. Change it up a bit! At the last minute, say each penny under the glass is for the person on “their right” or “their left.” That really throws a spin on the game.

The stories can range from guests’ younger years in life to the most recent.

It’s a fun way to learn something new about each other. Usually you’ll find that respect for each other grows when you learn more intimate things about your party guests.

I will guarantee after you do something light and fun like this, everyone will have a lighter, more relaxed attitude.

And be ready to have more fun!

Do you struggle with conversation when hosting a dinner party?

Have you ever lightened the mood at a dinner party by playing games to get to know your guests?

27 comments on “Making Dinner Party Conversation with The Penny Game”

  1. This sounds like a fun way to get to know your guests better! I’m going to have to try this! My sit down dinners tend to involve family members, who of course we know very well. I need to get up the courage this year to host a sit down dinner for some neighbors that I would like to get to know better.

  2. Never really had much problem with making conversation but your Penny Game sounds like fun. I will be helping host a baby shower in the spring with lots of guests who have never met. This might be a good ice breaker for that. Thanks for the idea.


  3. What a fun idea, Sandy! That’s a great way to learn more about your guests and spark conversations.

  4. What a great, simple way to stir up conversation! We will be tucking this into our arsenal.
    Chris Ann & Kristin

  5. I love this idea!

    We just moved into our first house last month and I have been so excited about entertaining. We never had anyone over to our old apartment, so entertaining is kind of a new frontier for me. I wasn’t quite as worried about the conversation, but I was definitely worried about the meal, the decor, the cleanliness of our home…you know. I wanted everything to be perfect. ;-) I’m so glad I’ve been reading your blog for months now, because it not only gave me ideas for food, decor, etc, but most of all, it gave me the confidence to just go ahead and do it, whether it was perfect or not!

    We had our first couple over for dinner the other night and the food and decor and music were all set and our home was clean…but then the couple was an hour late and when they finally arrived, while we were eating, our new pup had an accident on the floor. Twice. A far from perfect night. Yet, still, we all had a fabulous time! We didn’t get flustered when our guests were late and we all just laughed and shared accident stories (as we hurriedly cleaned the floor) at the dog’s mess. Now, I’ve gained even more confidence and can’t wait to have people over again!

    • It’s really about attitude, isn’t it Becky? And be a gracious hostess! Thanks for sharing your awesome story!

  6. What a neat idea! I’ve never heard of that one before, will have to try it. Thanks Sandy!

    Here are some more ways to keep the conversation going:

    * Jar of questions

    * Play a snippet from popular songs of the 1950’s-1990’s & have everyone share what they think when they hear these songs.

    * Go around the room and have everyone share who inspires them the most & why.

    Hope you have a wonderful week~

  7. what a fun idea – and has the potential to be more interesting than “your usual chit chat”.

    people call me a connector – so when I have gatherings where people don’t know each other, it is usually on purpose because these two friends NEED to know each other, or whatever – so I am excited about introductions and pointing out similarities.

  8. Thank you so much for this idea! I do worry about what we will talk about when I have guests over. This game would really help with that.

  9. What a fun idea, I love it!

  10. Love it! I’m going to file this away for future reference.

  11. This is such a great ice breaker!

  12. What a great idea…Some of us would have a real hard time finding pennies from our youth years! LOL!

  13. I am for sure gonna try this at my next party. plus its hard to get to know someone if you do not know anything about them. will also be following your blog from now on. thanks, keep the good ideas coming.

  14. This is so clever and would be so much fun! You have the best ideas Sandy, I’m so glad you share them!

  15. I have never heard of the penny game but always looking for new games. Sounds fun!

  16. We just plain love to play games. Many times when we get together with friends, we get out the games. Time just flies by, and there’s never a lull in conversation.

  17. Such a great idea, Sandy! I love this! I don’t really have a hard time starting conversations when hosting parties but I know my hubby does. We’ll have to play this game the next time we host!

  18. What a cute idea, we should try this! This isn’t just good for lulls, but for more intimate and meaningful conversation!

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