6 Safe (+ Trend Driven) Table Topics for your Holiday Gathering this Season

December 22, 2022
MA Design

We’ve all been there – gathered around the table with family and friends during the holiday season and your uncle can’t stop – won’t stop – provoking polarizing political conversations.

If that doesn’t hit home, maybe it’s the aunt that keeps asking if that’s your third glass of wine…already…

Or perhaps your TOO cool teenage cousin that you can’t seem to connect with – no matter how much you say the food “slaps”?

Ditch the source of stress and take note of these six safe table topics for your holiday gathering, covering all things design, trends and the future.


1. DESIGN + FASHION: Get more, spend less – Accessorize Sneakers, Sweaters for Sofas and Home Jewelry.
There’s one thing that’s trending in common across some many markets – investing in one base piece, and spending to accessorize it in different ways. The versatility of these items – and ideas – translates into value for cash-strapped shoppers, helping money go further.

Take the “modular” sneaker for example – with trending companies encouraging consumers to invest in the “base” sneaker and then selling detachable and interchangeable components that allow that one sneaker to transform into unlimited uses – from a spin cycle shoe to a fashion statement to dress up.

Same – but different – is the idea of sweaters for furniture. If it’s possible, imagine a trendy take on plastic couch covers, designed with style to renovate, update, customize and protect furniture, for use indoors and outdoors. These covers will allow home owners the chance to change up their interior design vibe without having to fully commit to purchasing new pieces – or breaking the bank. Covering old, and new, furniture with textiles can bring new colors and textures into interiors and maximize the life of much-loved products.

Last, but not least, along the same train of thought is “jewelry” from the home, using base pieces like a chandelier and adding “accessories” to embellish interiors. According to International Trend Forecasting Tool WGSN, think “ceiling lamps connected by gold chains, diamond-cut knobs on cookware tops and accents that enhance the everyday, such as mirrors”. These updates will allow the chance to personalize existing products, switching things up and elevating the aesthetic in a cost conscious way.

Question for Conversation: What other industries could hop onto this trend and maximize not only their items, but the encouragement of consumers “investing” in that base piece?

2. INTERIOR DESIGN: Dark Academia is the new “light and airy” in the world of Interior Design.
Interior Design Studio Lead Kaitlin Kingrey shares insider insight on the newest trend sweeping the world of Interior Design – Dark Academia.

“Oh, the drama! It’s no secret that trends within the design industry are constantly evolving in response to current events and cultural shifts. With a fresh wave of gothic flair dominating the entertainment industry (think Netflix’s new, instant cult-classic series Wednesday), this dark, dramatic, and visually complex aesthetic is weaving its way into interior design. In stark contrast to the light, airy, and natural language of the Scandinavian design movement that took the industry by storm, Dark Academia offers something equally cozy, yet far more intriguing.

A focus on depth of visual interest takes center stage, exaggerated through the mixing of classic patterns, textures, and ornate details. Traditional features like tufted fabrics and detailed casework are balanced against a rich, moody color palette and dim lighting. The result is a fresh and sultry design aesthetic that visually excites without overwhelming. Due to the eclectic, emotive qualities of this style, Dark Academia finds its niche in intimate spaces that focus on the warmth and quality of human connection – like a speakeasy, lounge, or cozy restaurant.”

Question for Conversation: If light and airy is out, and Dark Academia is in, what would you forecast the next design aesthetic is next? What is your most preferred interior aesthetic that you think is timeless?

3. TRAVEL + LEISURE: Athleisure is SO 2020 – Bleisure is the new principle taking flight – literally.
Bleisure – business and leisure travel – is at an all time high with signs that it will greatly impact the way – and when – people travel. With hybrid, and remote work, the new standard, 55% of Americans are now willing to take longer vacations because their work can travel with them. Worldwide, more than one in three business travelers will add a leisure component to at least one of their business trips this year, said Jeanne Liu of the Global Business Travel Association.

WGSN reports “The rise of the ‘bleisure’ travel lifestyle represents an exciting opportunity for consumers and the travel industry, and will impact a range of product areas, from fashion and small accessories to tech, as consumers look to outfit this relaxed way of living: think couch-to-coast apparel sets in terry and linen, which offer smart yet relaxed vacation-ready looks. Also expect a surge in products that make working in the sun easier, including portable solar chargers and laptop sunshades.”


Successful hospitality groups will showcase amenity workspaces and offer opportunities for guests to transition to relaxation and adventure, creating a space that transitions from working hard to playing hard. Airline “peak times” will be shifted with this synchronized travel trend, with weekdays being just as popular to fly and stay as weekends.

Question for Conversation: When it comes to Bleisure – are you planning your personal trip around your work travel or bringing work with you at the destination of your choice? How would you foresee this impacting the travel industry – airlines, hotels, peak travel times and offerings?

4. SOCIAL MEDIA: Tweet, Tweet – A little Birdy is saying Twitter is so old school according to founder Jack Dorsey in comparison to his new baby, Bluesky.
Have you scrolled through your instagram feed lately and noticed how few friends are showing up in your newsfeed and how MANY ads and accounts you don’t even follow are taking over what you’re seeing?

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey sees it too – and knows the future looks different with the advent of DeSo – decentralized social media. While he leaves Elon to opening polls about whether or not he should step down as new CEO, and Snoop Dogg offering to step up, Dorsey is focused on improving the honesty of content for users and challenging the control of corporations, according to WGSN, working to enable “brands to respond to and align with growing stakeholder expectations around trust, inclusion and participation. The end of invasive ads, alongside fair economic redistribution to creators, is another driver.”

Bluesky, Dorsey’s new concept, is an open-source, decentralized social media protocol that will leverage algorithmic intelligence to operate as a moderation tool. WGSN shares, “In October, Bluesky opened up a private beta for developers, with more than 30,0000 sign-ups in less than two days. Bluesky is being positioned by many as an alternative to, and perhaps even a replacement for, the now Elon Musk-owned Twitter.”

Question for Conversation: What’s your take on social media ads? When do you love them? When do they annoy you? What kind of limitations do you think there should be between social and business?


5. CONSTRUCTION: 3D Printed…Homes that are Built with three People in two Weeks
Just north of Austin, Texas, construction has officially begun on the world’s largest 3D-printed neighborhoods. According to the builder, ICON’s website, they’re working with developer Lennar, one of the nation’s leading homebuilders, and codesigners BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, to develop the innovative community of one hundred 3D-printed homes features eight floorplans, 24 elevations and will be powered by the sun with rooftop solar panels. TrendWatching.Com reports that the houses each take three people two weeks to build, and their thick printed walls provide better insulation than conventional construction with prices starting in the mid USD $400,000.

Question for Conversation: What is your take on modular design – the idea of, in this example, there strictly being only 3 models of homes to choose from but knowing that it helps offset the rising price of homes? What other areas could benefit from modular design and 3D printing?

6. GAMING + MENTAL HEALTH: Grab Your Controller – Mindful Gaming is Coming to Help Cure Mental Health
In the US, 55% of gamers played during the pandemic as a form of stress relief. WGSN reports, amid a culture impacted by mental health concerns, gaming will increasingly become a source for healing into 2023.

And it’s not just meant for fun – the World Health Organization has teamed up with the makers of the popular “Goodville” game to launch an AI-based game that is designed to help players achieve better mental and physical health – rooted in science and psychology and the MIT Media Lab is working on a game inspired by behavioral activation therapy.

You might be familiar with the sympathetic nervous system – fight or flight – but these games encourage the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system – rest and digest, that relaxes your body after a period of stress. This effort is meeting people – and players – where they are, bringing mental health help into their own hands…literally.

This trend is also starting to influence product design and development for hardware, gaming accessories and gaming environments.

Question for Conversation: Let’s say you can build your own AI video game – equipped with all things that make you feel relaxed and at peace. What would we see if we turned on the video game? What are less conventional features that help you feel more grounded and less stressed?