Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Reaching Out to the World Next Door*

What do the following items have in common?

One Piece of Paper
Tons of Neighbors
A Fire Pit (or two)
Lawn Chairs
Coolers with Beverages
Platters full of Homemade Food
Tons of Dessert
Fired up Grills groaning with brats, hot dogs, burgers, chicken
Huge Screen
Projector and DVD Payer
Fun Family Movies

When put together, they all make for an excellent neighborhood (or block) party!

The block I live on is great for getting together on a nice evening and throwing a mean block party. It starts with one piece of paper that serves as an invitation (although, many times, it is by word of mouth) that is handed out or placed on doors. Then, on the given day, the block converges on one neighbors front driveway with food, laughter, fun, music, and merriment.

Our next door neighbor even hosts an annual Fall Family Movie Night on the Lawn ... He smokes a ton of meat, and we all bring side dishes, desserts, and drinks. The kids play in the yard, roast marshmallows by the fire pit, run in and out, and then the whole family watches a family-oriented movie that he projects onto a large screen he has stationed on the back of his pick-up truck.

Last week, I mentioned a neighbor's annual Memorial Day Picnic, and we have various other neighbors that throw an annual Fourth of July Picnic, Labor Day Picnic, and then, of course, the annual Fall Family Movie Night on the Lawn. Then, throughout the spring, summer and fall (and on those rare warm winter nights) different neighbors take turns hosting impromptu gatherings in their front yard. Why the front yard? So that anyone that sees them can feel welcome to come and join in. It's just an unspoken rule around here.

One thing I have found that makes it a bit difficult for us to host these cookouts is that we don't serve alcohol at our home, and many of the neighbors would rather drink to loosen up ... but because of all the gatherings that take place throughout the year, we have all developed pretty good friendships. Which leads me to two ways that our family chooses to minister to others in our neighborhood ...

In the winter, when it snows, my husband will get out very early in the morning, and take out his snow blower. There is only one other person on our street that owns a snow blower, and he's generally not out until later on in the day. This gives my husband a chance to blow our driveway and sidewalks, and then, he moves on to the neighbors sidewalks. Once all the sidewalks are blown out, he begins methodically helping with clearing out driveways. The neighbors are very appreciative of this gesture of good will.

And, at Christmas time, I will put together tins or baskets of home-made Christmas gifts to distribute to the neighbors. They are usually family-oriented items, like sugar cookies with homemade hot chocolate mix, chocolate-cherry cakes, pull-apart rolls, bar cookies, brownies, etc. The neighbors enjoy receiving a little something from our family at Christmas time each year, and I especially love the look of surprise on the new neighbor's faces when they open the door, and we hand them a little goodie!

How do you reach out to the world next door -- your neighborhood??? For more great ideas, make sure you check out Sandy's original post at Reluctant Entertainer (it's the one that got us all sharing openly how we minister to our neighbors), and Momrn2's post from My Quiet Corner on how they throw an annual shin-dig that will delight even the most stoic person (which may be an option for those of us that do not serve alcohol)!

(*Wording for title used from Momrn2's own post)


momrn2 said...

WOW! Your neighborhood goes all out! That is fantastic!!!

We have also done the plate of goodies at Christmas. It is always fun to see the look of surprise from those receiving!

I'm so glad you posted this and shared what your neighborhood does! I believe that if people would give it a try, just once, they would forever be drawn to continuing the practice.

Hosting the first one is a bit intimidating, after that it's just plain fun!!

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

Wow! We're the "new guys" in the 'hood here and the only one with young kids. The block I grew up on had block party like you described but I'm kinda at a loss how to do somethinglike that here with so many older folks and rentals. Hmmm...

org junkie said...

Sounds amazing and so much fun! I think I'd be intimidated to host one but I'd definitely attend if someone else wanted to throw one!

Susanne said...

You sound like you're in a great neighborhood. Our neighborhood is sooooo much more private and "keep to themselves" kinds of people.

Sandy said...

You have a pretty active neighborhood!

I am happy to get the ball rolling and getting people to start thinking about hospitality.

I believe it's a lost art -- so I love reading posts like yours, and momrn2's, too!

Great job.
For Reluctant Entertainer

Jen said...

how cool
would be nice if more neighborhoods did this