Saturday evening we had a Progressive Dinner with all of our neighbors that live on our street (except for a couple that couldn’t make it). It was a lot of fun and a great way to build better relationships with those around us, so I thought I would share. The whole thing was the brainchild of my neighbor, Nicole. Of course, I had to get involved with the creative stuff. Fortunately, Nicole came up with the system, or it might have never happened since I would still be trying to catch all of the neighbors and see if they were interested in participating and if so, what they would like to furnish. Nicole is a master of delegation, so she just decided what kind of food each house would provide (appetizers, desserts, soup, etc.), and the order of eating. That made for a lot of information to include in the invitations, so I made a tri-fold, brochure- type invite.
This was across the top of the inside of the invitation (I will post invites with credits on my digital insanity blog). It is map of the street with the names of the couples (I erased most of those since you don’t really need to know all of my neighbors names), the order we would visit, and their food assignment. We instructed everyone to make serving sizes very small since there would be so much eating to do, and gave a few suggestions of foods they might consider serving. I think everyone was thrilled to have an assignment and some direction, and Nicole knew most of them well enough to know what types of food they would enjoy preparing. I was surprised by how excited everyone was to participate, and that they all went “all-out” in preparing their portion of the meal. Now, it may just be that I have cool neighbors–I can’t guarantee the same if you try this at your home. The first house we went to for appetizers had enough of a spread that we could have stayed there all night and gotten full and satisfied, but Nicole kept track of time and gave us a 2 min. warning and a time’s up after 20 mins. at each house.
One neighbor cooked traditional African food and even had those fancy bunson burner dishes to serve it all in. Unfortunately, I only had the camera at our house where we served three of Barry’s signature desserts:
His famous Molasses (ginger) cookies. (Recipe here)
His super-rich flourless chocolate cake served with fresh strawberry sauce and homemade whipped cream.
And homemade lemon ice cream, which is the best homemade ice cream I have ever had, but it is a family secret, so I don’t know if he will ever let me share (I’ll work on him).
I thought it was great that our neighbors that hosted the “night-cap” portion of the evening (which looked like a full-service bar to me) were considerate enough to make sure there was juice and non-alcoholic mixed drinks for the kids and those of us who don’t drink.
At the first house, we handed out this Neighbor Bingo Game. Everyone asked each other questions and when they found some one that met the criteria in the box, that person would sign their paper in that square. We had a prize for the first one to get a bingo and for the little girl who didn’t stop until she had every square filled in.
It was a great evening and highly recommend giving it a shot in your neighborhood, if you can swing it.
*Make assignments, give people the option to call and make changes if they need, but most prefer having the direction.
*Cute invitations help people to get excited. Most of my graphics came from this digital scrapbooking kit from Lisa Warren (Her BBQ kit would also make fun invites).
*Don’t eat anything all day. Actually, I don’t know what my advice is on this one, other than to let you know that we had TONS of food and we all overate. If you have a lot of neighbors, maybe they could team up to prepare food, so there isn’t so much to eat.
*Summer might be a great time to do this, since you can utilize the outdoors if homes aren’t big enough to accomodate everyone. If there are a lot of children in the neighborhood, it is nice to have areas set up for them (a table outside, or a toyroom–they probably won’t eat as much as the big kids) so that the adults can visit.
*Be the instigator–I think everyone on our street had thought it would be a good idea to get together sometime. It just took someone setting a date and making a plan to make it happen. All of the neighbors were very gracious and grateful to us for putting this on. It promotes a feeling of security to know your neighbors and feel like you can call on them if you need something.
So go and be neighborly…and let me know if you attempt a dinner like this!
Since our party was such a success, you could say that I am “hooked” on coming up with fun ways to get to know your neighbors, so I am participating in Hooked on Houses Hooked on Fridays party. Always lots of fun to be had there!