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How to Host a Great Neighborhood Party

We had a great time hosting our neighborhood pumpkin carving and chili party Friday night. We had almost 50 people join us from all different parts of the neighborhood. The kids ran around like crazy, having a great time, while the adults sampled four different kinds of chili. Then we went outside to carve pumpkins together.

We believe that it's important to build and nurture a sense of community in our neighborhood. It creates safer community, where people care about one another. It creates a more joyful neighborhood, where people greet one another and actually talk to one another. And it's just fun!

It's easy to host a neighborhood gathering. You don't need lots of money, or a big house, or the best backyard in the neighborhood. You just need to plan ahead and ask for help!

Tips for planning an easy get-together
  1. Outdoor parties are almost always easier, so use your patio or driveway if the weather permits. Some neighborhoods will even let you block off a street, if you want to involve the whole neighborhood.
  2. Collect email addresses as you meet people. I keep the addresses in a word document along with the family names and ph#s. I also keep a neighborhood contact list on my email account.
  3. Use evite as your primary invitation source. I know it's not fancy, but it's so easy to use! You can use it to track party #s and party supplies (see #4)
  4. Host a potluck style event. Make a list of everything you need for the party (food, drinks, paper products...) and split them up into equal 'portions'. Use evite's 'ask guests to bring something' feature to invite your neighbors to pitch in. Most people want to bring something to help, so they'll be glad to help out.
  5. Print out some paper invitations to include new neighbors that you haven't yet met or neighbors that don't utilize email.
  6. Ask 1-2 friends to come early to help you do last minute preparations and stimluate conversations among the guests. New neighbors might be very shy, so you might have to initiate conversations until they are comfortable.
  7. Use nametags, so people can see and hear names - they'll be more likely to remember them!
  8. Have a sign-up list for people to share their contact info.
  9. If you're having fun, mention the possibility of getting neighbors together again. If someone is especially enthusiastic about hosting another event, invite them to help with the planning. I think our neighborhood gals are going to start a bi-monthly Bunco night!
  10. Be flexible - it's going to be messy and a little crazy. But it will be a lot of fun, and it's totally worth the effort!

Easy party ideas:
  • Superbowl Soup & Salads
  • Valentine's Day cookie swap
  • St. Patrick's Day Irish get together (green foods)
  • Memorial Day family softball game and picnic at a local park (thanks for the idea Mary & Stu!)
  • July 4th bike parade and cookout
  • Back porch watermelon & popsicle parties (thanks for the idea Ginger & Chan!)
  • Back to school party (thanks for the idea Heather)
  • Pumpkin carving party
  • Christmas crafts party (for adults or kids)
  • Christmas caroling and cider party

Comments

Christmas Caroling Parties are my very favorite. Hard to get everyone to participate in but so beautiful in a very simple way.
WordGirl said…
This is our 3rd or 4th year of making a huge pot (or two) of chili and inviting a large group over for dinner before trick-or-treating. It's great for young children, who are more comfortable going home to home in a group. We live on a great street, so we just walk it. My husband loves it because he gets to hang out with other adults and any infants to hand out candy.

We have several parties each year, but this one is a great one because we have neighborhood friends, school friends and church friends all mingling together.

As always, thanks for sharing your tips.

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