To combat the small talk conundrum, we fashioned name tags for our guests to wear Friday night at the casual hang out dinner. Instead of "Hello, my name is..." the tags read "Ask me about:" Each guest has three or four quirky things on their tags.
The tag of my friend, Camella, for example, says: "Ask me about: Ashtonga yoga, raising chickens, DJing a radio show, and why should shouldn't buy corn."
It was quite a bit of work (aren't most DIY projects?). First we had to come up with three things for every person. Luckily, we've pretty much only invited our closest friends and family, so it wasn't very hard. For the few dates we don't know, we simply e-mailed the original invitee and asked them to provide some talking points.
Then we had to do a mail merge from Excel into Word. Then there was the formatting and the editing. And the printing. And the meticulous chopping with the paper cutter. Then the laminating. And now we're in the process of using an exacto knife to slice a little slit for the clip to slide through.
But I think it will be worth it in the end (aren't most DIY projects?). They should definitely spark some meaningful conversations. I can't wait.