ED-logo-green_webSocials and happy hours are pretty common events on campuses, within organizations and businesses, and within larger events and conferences. And in all arenas, they’re usually billed as a “networking” activity (yawn).

The Earth Dinner theme is a great way to wake folks up and get them talking about meaningful subjects, specifically food, farming and how we connect with the world around us. Whether your group has worked together for years or have never met before, you’ll get to know each other in a deeper way—beyond the resume.

Forget the Small Talk

Help your guests delve directly into the heart. Scatter conversation questions around the room and encourage people to use them. The Earth Dinner theme focuses on how we connect to food, farming and the earth—topics which are universal and on which everyone will have a memory, story or opinion, no matter their background. You can also include conversation questions about other subjects that are important to your audience.

Soul Food

Provide or have people bring drinks, snacks or finger foods made from local, seasonal and organic ingredients, and post signs that tell where the ingredients came from. Post stories about the farms or food and farming facts around the room to get people thinking. Invite a local speaker and have a Q&A or conversation session afterward.

20130420_0004_cropFollow Up

If possible, consider making your social a series of events to keep folks coming back and continually getting to know one another better. Pick a different conversation focus and even a different food theme for each date. Always do publicity or email teasers to keep your guests interested and intrigued.

No matter your goal or format, the key is to create a fun, memorable and meaningful experience for your guests. Share your experiences with us in the comments or on the Earth Dinner Facebook page.

Download free publicity resources, conversation cards and planning checklist at the Earth Dinner home page.