Many of us struggle to make conversation at Christmas gatherings, whether church events, work-related parties, neighborhood drop-ins, or annual family occasions.

Sometimes our difficulty lies in having to chat with people we rarely see or have never met. At other times we simply don't know what to say to those with whom we feel little in common.

Moreover, as Christians we want to take advantage of the special opportunities provided by the Christmas season to share our faith, but are often unsure how to begin.

Here's a list of questions designed not only to kindle a conversation in almost any Christmas situation, but also to take the dialogue gradually to a deeper level. The questions can be used in a private conversation or as a group exercise, with believers or unbelievers, with strangers or with family.

1. What's the best thing that's happened to you since last Christmas?

2. What was your best Christmas ever? Why?

3. What's the most meaningful Christmas gift you've ever received?

4. What was the most appreciated Christmas gift you've ever given?

5. What was your favorite Christmas tradition as a child?

6. What is your favorite Christmas tradition now?

7. What do you do to try to keep Christ in Christmas?

8. Why do you think people started celebrating the birth of Jesus?

9. Do you think the birth of Jesus deserves such a nearly worldwide celebration?

10. Why do you think Jesus came to earth?

Of course, remember to pray before your Christmas gatherings. Ask the Lord to grant you "divine appointments," to guide your conversations, and to open doors for the Gospel. May He use you to bring glory to Christ this Christmas.

Don Whitney is associate professor of spiritual formation at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and author of "Simplify Your Spiritual Life" (NavPress, 2003). To register for a free monthly e-publication from Whitney, "The SpiritualDisciplines.org Newsletter," with new and reprinted articles and more, go to SpiritualDisciplines.org