Getting your Neighborhood to Participate
Growing up in a quiet neighborhood, I never knew what I was missing until I moved to a neighborhood where everyone knew each other. It was a different experience for me, because in my first neighborhood people hardly knew each other at all. But as an adult it seemed as if everyone wants to know who you were, what you did and if you had children. This wasn’t because they were noisy, but rather very friendly and it made for a safer neighborhood. The more you knew about your neighbors the easier it was to spot odd behavior, and therefore a possible crime. Getting to know your neighbors doesn’t have to be awkward, as in going to each house and introducing yourself, although that is a possibility.
The way I got to know all my new neighbors was with a block party, and it can work in a housing neighborhood or an apartment complex. It takes the right amount of organization, a good theme, and the ability to include everyone in the mix and you can have a great party that involves everyone. It allows everyone to mingle and get to know each other and is a great way to have fun with everyone.
Inviting the Neighborhood
For those that have lived in the neighborhood for years, this might seem to be a simple step. All it takes is making a few calls or knocking on some doors and the next thing you know, everyone wants to participate. (Well, almost everyone. There will almost always be someone that doesn’t want anything to do with their neighbors.) You can always recruit a few of the neighbors to help you so that it can best organize with the times that people are available. Not everyone might be able to participate, and some might be late due to work schedules, but it is important that everyone in the neighborhood is invited.
When there are those that reject the invitation, it is important to know why if they are willing to share. This will allow you to plan accordingly, and see if they want to be invited to the next event. Not everyone can participate all the time, and some might have newborns in the house, which could mean loud noises are not good, and staying up late is no longer an option.
Inspiration with a Theme
The first thing you want to do is choose a theme. During the Summer time, this is perfect as the weather is nice and great for barbecuing. It makes for a perfect time for all the dads to pull their grills to the street and cook up something for everyone to try. The chefs in the house can add to it with several summer dishes, cold drinks and tables to display everything, allowing everyone in the neighborhood to get a taste.
The holidays also inspire great themes, especially Halloween and Christmas. These festive holidays allow for not only the entire neighborhood to partake, but others as well. Halloween is especially fun for the trick or treaters when there is a block party. Candy, cookies, popcorn and other treats can all be given away while the neighborhood enjoys the event and shares. It’s easier to get all the trick or treaters since you will already be outside with everyone else and won’t need to answer the door every few minutes.
Christmas might be a bit chilly, especially in areas that snow so have your outdoor heaters available and some hot cocoa or cider to share. This always warms up the neighborhood, and while a block party during the winter months is not always the best idea, it can run shorter than in the summer months and still allow everyone to participate.
Organizing the Event
There is more to organizing the event than just sending out the invitations. You want to make sure you know who is going to participate and who isn’t so the festivities can either be brought closer together or spread out. You need to assign tasks or let those who are going to participate, choose what they want to do. Things like music, or a movie playing on the side of the house, food, drinks, appetizers, even games and fun things for the kids.
There can be multiple people doing similar things If they are spread out and not close together. You don’t want two people that are next door to each other providing drinks, unless they are providing different drinks. The same can be said for food, as there should be a variety of things for people to choose from.
Respect Your Neighbors
Not everyone wants to participate, for one reason or another. Some people may not be home, some might be day sleepers, some might have newborns in the house. Keep the noise level at a respectable time, and make sure that everything is done and cleaned up at a decent time.
Don’t leave trash laying around, and never do anything to the neighbor’s yard or property if they don’t want to participate. If you do that, they might never participate in anything.
Cleaning up might be the hard part, especially when people might be tired. Help each other out, and as the organizer it is up to you to make sure everyone cleans up. If you have kids, enlist their help in the clean-up process. The neighbors will appreciate it when they wake up in the morning and everything looks normal in the neighborhood again.