Connected to Your Neighbors - Building Community
With today's fast and hurried pace, we need a greater sense of community within our neighborhoods. That can be easy to achieve during the summer, when people are sitting on their porches or the kids are playing in the yard. But how do you maintain that sense of community during the winter, when people are hunkered inside by their fireplace, avoiding the cold? Well, lucky for us here in the great state of Texas even in winter we have great outdoor weather most of the time.
How about throwing a block party, plan for an outdoor one but with a strong back up plan for being indoors if it is a cold day. You're sure to make new friends among your neighbors; make the planning a family affair - your children may find new friends they didn't know lived so close. Plus, if you get your kids involved in the planning, you will give them a great chance to flex their managerial muscle and show you what they've got. Not only will they be proud of their achievement, they'll also learn from the experience.
When planning your party, think of activities that will get people talking. After all, this is the time to bring people together and create new bonds within the neighborhood. One idea that's simple to do is to have everyone who attends wear a name tag that lists not only their name, but which street they live on and the city where they were born. People move so frequently today that very few live where they were born. This simple exercise can provide revelers with some great conversation starters.
In addition, some great activities to keep kids occupied and entertained can include limbo dancing, piñata smashing, games on the Wii, or a popcorn machine. For big and little kids alike, a clown or face painter could keep smiling faces on all.
Of course, one of the focal points of any party is food. An easy way to de-stress and make this process easier is to delegate out the main course and sides - do it potluck style and have everyone bring copies of their recipe (another great way to get to know each other and break the ice). You can also appoint one of the residents to compile the recipes, put them into one small booklet or on a computer CD with copies to everyone that participated.
Key points to remember:
· Get notices out early! Two weeks is good.
· Ask for RSVPs.
· Have a sign-in list for people when they check in. Also have a sign-up list for other activities you may want to do later. This could include working on future parties or mom's groups.
· Get your name tags ready, and have them at the check-in table.
· When you're looking for your clown or face painter, check to see if they can hook you up with a great bounce house company that offers a popcorn machine.
· Don't forget your camera to capture all the fun!
After the party, you can keep people involved and looking forward to future parties by taking some of the best pictures and placing them into a small newsletter to send to everyone in the neighborhood. In the newsletter, don't forget to thank all who contributed and sponsored the event.
Most important of all: Don't forget to have fun!
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