Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tis the Season to Invite People Over

In Seattle, the weather seems to have officially turned gloomy.  That means for the next few months we'll be spending more time indoors.

I actually enjoy a lot of the time I spend curled up with my family on the couch reading books by the fire or watching playoff football.  But,  one of the unfortunate side effects of all this time indoors is that are there less spontaneous opportunities to run into our neighbors.  We all run in and out of our houses straight to our cars, covered in our coats- and we sometimes even forget to say hello.

It's my goal this fall, before our littlest child (due soon, soon, soon) joins us to have our neighbors over a few times.  I think you should consider opening your home to your neighbors, too. 

Here are some casual, fun ideas on how you can do it:

1) Host a neighborhood talent show.  When I was a kid, my neighborhood friends and I were always writing plays.  We'd make little invitations for all of our parents and then everyone would plop down on our couch and watch us perform.  I am sure it was hilarious for the adults and a total blast for the kids.  The great thing is it was totally casual and fun!

2) Host a movie night.  All that's needed for this is a light snack or two and a kid friendly movie and you can invite neighbors over to enjoy a family fun night at your house.  I love Monster's, Inc.  And, it's just perfect for a Halloween themed movie night.

3) Have a weekly/biweekly/monthly open house through the fall and winter months.  This one is pretty simple.  Just have a light snack out or invite neighbors to participate in a pot luck.  Then, agree on a weekly/biweekly/monthly meeting time.  This is a great one to start and then encourage neighbors to each host one.

4) Have a game afternoon or night.  Invite neighbors or friends over for board games.  It's obviously not my idea- it's as unoriginal as it gets.  But, that doesn't mean it won't be a ton of fun for everyone who participates.

5) Set up an informal play space.  If you have the room in your home.  Consider creating a play space that is open to neighbors and friends when they come over.   I once saw an article about a woman who set up a mini soccer field in her unfinished basement!!!  Get creative!  That way, you have a space to invite others into and kids won't get so sick and tired of the rain.  They'll have plenty to do indoors with friends.


  1. I love number 4. It may be unoriginal but it's definitely more interactive than a movie night!

    We've been trying so hard to get our neighbors together but for some reason, we feel we are the only ones to want to cultivate relationship with all of them. We keep making dates with all of our closest neighbors, then each set, only to have the majority cancel last minute (or move away). I wonder what we could do to make it less intimidating. Any thoughts? Maybe this has to do with the more transient (less invested) nature of folks who live around us?

    Diana, keep these ideas coming. We love the community heart behind front yard frontier. It feels so organic yet it is so rare/uncommon.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement. I do have a few suggestions for you. One thing that has worked for me is to have a more spontaneous approach to non-committal people. We have some neighbors who for a very long time did not want to get to know us and made that pretty clear. But, I invited them over when I saw them coming in from work on a weekday for some wine and cheese and they took me up on it. This was spontaneous so they didn't really have time to cancel. Also, if you have a courtyard or any joint gathering space- have your meals out there every once in a while. This will allow you to be seen and to say hello to others more often until they feel more comfortable hanging out. Lastly, something Andrew and I did as RAs that makes people commit is to give them some option in choosing the menu if you have them over for dinner. So, once they choose what they want and you make it clear you've bought the ingredients so that you can share a meal together, they are less likely to cancel. Though people often don't want to commit to knowing their neighbors, I think they feel glad they did it once they do. I ran into quite a bit of resistance at first, but now I feel our street is genuinely pretty close. In fact, my neighbor just had a baby and I sent out a meal calendar and multiple people from the neighborhood brought her a meal!!! I was so thrilled!