The best conversation topics for dinner parties, according to experts

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“The more neutral the thing, the better the game,” Rubin explains. If you ask your dinner guests to share their opinions about polarizing, frequently debated topics like private schools or Brexit, the ensuing conversation will likely follow a predictable course. “But if you do ‘bread,’” Rubin says, “who knows?”

The other key rule of “for it or against it”: No waffling. “There’s no in-between,” Rubin says. “You have to say why and justify your reasoning. We always had fun trying to pull people onto your side.”

The most important factor in a successful dinner party is confidence: Lead the conversation with enthusiasm, and your guests will find your cheer contagious. And should your dinner party still wind up being a bust, take comfort in the knowledge that it could still go down in your friends’ history books.

One friend reports that he and his wife used to play a game called “Worst Dinner Party Ever.” “We’d try to think of the worst possible combination of friends you could have in your house,” he explains: not just people who would dislike each other, but people who would have absolutely nothing to say to one another at all.

Unsurprisingly, he says, “it was inspired by real-life events.”