You’re more likely to find my family all yapping over each other a mile a minute during holiday dinners than staring awkwardly at our soup bowls. But other families? Not so lucky. Here are a couple of solutions to get things rolling.

Table Topics is the maker of Family Topics, a fine looking set of 135 cards printed with  conversation starters from What personality trait has gotten you into the most trouble? to Is space exploration important? I especially like their mini “to-go” sets of kids cards which is a way better alternative to the DVD on long car rides. Just make sure whoever rides shotgun does the reading.

Similarly, The Box Girls, a mom-and-mom run company, offers The Family Dinner box of questions, perfect for the holidays and beyond. Or check out specific holiday sets for Christmas and Hanukkah. The oversized circular cards with large type helps get both grandparents and early readers in on the action, plus a portion of Family Dinner sales goes to help an organization battling substance abuse which is very cool in itself.

Smackdown results: Family Topics wins for sleek design and number of questions but I’m loving the Family Dinner on pure kitsch value–every one of the cards is backed with a giant photo of a pie.

Either way, if they help divert your crazy uncle from ranting about congressmen/weathermen/killer bees over dessert, you’re coming out ahead. –Liz

Save 20% at the Box Girls with code CMP20 through the end of the year.