Living in Sacramento during the summer sometimes feels unbearable. The heat and sun are so strong that a few minutes outside in 100 degree weather can zap the energy right out of you.
Still, I wanted to do something to get my community outside. Where did everyone go once they got home? I, like most people, have said hello to my neighbors when I walk or drive by, but couldn’t have told you any of their names or what they did for a living.
As my kids grow older, I have started longing for the type of block that I grew up on. We weren’t always being good but we did play together, had water fights, played wiffle ball, and frisbee golf out front where the man hole a few houses down was a 2 par and anything hit from the driveway, over the street, into the neighbors yard was a home run. We knew each other, it didn’t matter if we weren’t best friends, we were playmates because of geography.
I almost never see kids playing on my street, despite the few that live around. The lack of familiarity and community made me a little sad so I decided to do something about it. I decided on an old fashioned block party. I didn’t particularly care to go about getting permits to block off the street, as it seemed like a lot of effort. Instead, I typed up a quick invitation inviting the neighbors to the party and asked them to bring a dish. That was about all I did besides write down RSVPs as they came until the day before the party. I also arranged for a bounce house for the little ones.
The day before, I gathered some finger paints, paper, stickers, and crayons and made an art station on a folding table for the kids. I purchased some water balloons and gathered all my outdoor toys from the basket ball to the jump rope to the monster trucks and dump trucks. I set all of the toys and art station out on the side walk, while the neighbors next door set up some more folding tables for the potluck. After the bounce house and kiddie pool were full, all we had to do was wait for the guests to arrive or walk outside. We waited, serenading them with appropriate neighborly tunes.
People trickled out and ultimately we had a respectable feast. My new friends brought over steak, hamburgers, hotdogs, and many yummy side dishes. People also brought over wine and lawn chairs and we drank and ate and talked till we felt silly. After everyone had a nice little buzz going we served the desserts and wrapped things up. This was definitely the easiest clean up I have ever had after a party. The whole neighborhood helped me clean up the mess and put the tables away.
I was exhausted by the end of the day, that Sacramento sun took its toll on me. The kids were cranky and it was over.
Or was it? The most awesome part is that the block party wasn’t over, at least not for everyone. Many of the neighbors went over to another house with a swimming pool and swam until the early morning hours, drinking and socializing.
Being a good hostess I made some thank you notes to pass around to those who attended and set them on their porch. I have been thanked endlessly for putting this little bash together and it was honestly not very much effort at all.
If you want to make your neighborhood safer for your kids or property I suggest getting out of your shell and doing something like this. A simple dinner party would do and is priceless. Knowing your neighbors shouldn’t be an old fashioned idea but ordinary. It just takes a little effort, putting yourself out there and a desire to really feel like you have neighbors that live next door, not strangers.