Add meaning to family mealtimes with reflections from

Pithy Placemats

Add meaning to mealtimes.

Whether you are on the go or dining in, whether you make time at breakfast or simply for an evening snack, these place mats are a great tool to inspire conversation.


What you’ll need

  • One of our two printable placemat styles below (the "Talk About It" design includes 5 alternative versions).
  • Crayons & a pencil


  • Use the prompts on the placemat to get your kids involved in a new kind of dialogue.

If you have trouble getting the kids excited, try

  • Answering first. Your input will get them more involved.
  • Leaving them in charge of their answers. Resist the urge to “teach” or correct their responses. Even if their dream to use $1,000 include buying and hoarding candy to the exclusion of all else. Let them know you are tempted to use it all too, but that if you really knew you could do some good with it you would put it toward….”
  • Being silly. Some days, no one has the energy for straight talk and pithy conversations. Some days we all need to be a little goofy. Add Big Ike’s Ice Cream Shop to your list of charities, a place that passes out free ice cream for every skinned knee. Make up a silly story about someone you’ve helped or someone who has helped you.


  • Which questions or prompts did you like most? Least?
  • Why do you think it’s helpful to have conversations about kindness?
  • Which response from your family members was the most surprising to you? Funniest? Most inspiring?
  • What other conversation starters would you add to the placemat?


  • Talk About Giving by Talk About Giving, an initiative developed by the Central Carolina Community Foundation to encourage multi-generational conversation about philanthropy. The game offers 52 cards with open-ended conversations starters. Visit their website for the question of the week.
  • 201 Questions to Ask your Kids; 201 Questions to Ask your Parents by Pepper Schwarz (Harper Paperbacks, 2000). Ages 10 and up. This book is full of questions that go beyond the topics of giving and kindness, but will help open up a broader conversation.

Take it further

  • Keep a journal near the table to jot down memorable moments. Some family quotes deserve to live in infamy.
  • Resolve to turn one thing from your conversation into an action item. Start a collection for your favorite charity or write a thank you to someone who was helpful. Take a small step toward making someone’s “wish for the world” a reality.

Still looking for a meaningful family moment? Browse our projects.