The worst-case scenario when hosting a formal dinner party is hearing only the sounds of slurping soup and clanking cutlery. Avoid awkward silences by organizing dinner party games. Any activities related to conversation still maintain a formal environment. After one or two games, dialog will become natural and guests will be comfortable and content.
Message Under a Plate
Message Under a Plate is recommended by Divine Dinner Party. Write phrases in neat calligraphy on the back of business cards or card stock. The more random the sentences are, such as "I would like to go the moon" or "Do you happen to have frog legs?" the more challenging and entertaining the game will be. Place cards under each dinner plate. Instruct guests to look at their cards at the beginning of the meal. Challenge them to casually drop their phrase. Encourage guests to guess when someone has said his sentence.
Two Truths and a Lie
Two Truths and a Lie is a well-known party game that you can lead after guests have talked together for some time. Tell guests they must say three statements about themselves where two are true and one is a lie. Go first to provide them with an example. For example, you could say, "I am a Libra," "I once went sky diving" and "I have a phobia of spiders." They guess which statement is the lie.
This game is inspired by an activity recommended by Ultimate Dinner Party and is fitting if you know some hidden quirks about each guest. Before the party, write down one or two interesting facts about each guest (something that others would not know from small talk). Print out a copy for each guest or read out statements aloud at the dinner table. Encourage guests to guess which statement applies to each person.
The French Connection
The French Connection, suggested by Channel 4, works well if many of your guests know the basics of a common second language, like Spanish or French. In fact, it will be more enjoyable if guests are not experts in that language, but just know a handful of words. Write a sentence in English at the top of the page. Pass the page to the person on your left. She should translate as best she can, write down that sentence in Spanish and fold the paper to cover the original English phrase. The next players should alternate writing sentences in English and Spanish. Continue the game until the paper has gone around the table; if there are fewer than six players, allow the sheet to go around the table twice. As a group, read the original and each consecutive sentence.