Even before the Henderson’s moved to our wonderful neighborhood of Pine Lakes in Bradenton, there were already re-occuring neighborhood Christmas parties. How often did they occur? That I don’t know. But since we’ve been here, we’ve taken the initiative to make sure they occur every year: hosting our first year, and then rotating it. However, this year no one seemed thrilled to host it INSIDE his/her house. Including us. It’s hard to have a ton of folks in your house this time of year, particularly when you are talking about folks from all different ages, as well as crazy little ones. And many of us have pools.
So this year we decided to host one OUTSIDE, in our front yard. We actually do something similar once a year for a “neighborhood watch” in August. Yep August, when the mosquitoes and no-see-um’s either devour you or slip-N-slide down your sweaty extremities if they can’t latch on. It’s brutal. And yet folks come.
We decided to try a Christmas party in this type venue, only a few doors down, and with a fewer bugs, and lower temperatures. And it worked.
First of all, I moved the cars to the street corner so we could set up chairs in our driveway. Then we set up some buffet tables on the sidewalk. Some people did bring their own chairs-as requested in the flier-while others used our extras, or even sat on the driveway or yard. The kids played in the back yard before it got dark, and simply scampered around the front between food runs.
Most people brought a dish, and we had a decent variety of delicious desserts as well. An online meal sign up would have been helpful to coordinate, but it actually wasn’t necessary this time.
We started at 5 pm with just a few folks, but by 6 pm we had about 25 or so. And folks stayed until a little after 7 pm. Everyone thanked us for organizing this simple event. People are so busy these days, and often too busy just to stop and connect with people who live so close. Yet when there’s a party involved, it seems to transform that dynamic.
A few folks even came to our Christmas play the next day. And since we have neighbors who attend Harbor, and some others who acted and sang in the play, everyone seemed to feel right at home.
After the party I thought to myself how easy it would be to repeat this process again during the winter. It took no time to plan, prepare, or clean up. No need to have the house looking perfect on the inside or fear of little ones destroying the place.
If you have never thrown a neighborhood party or a neighborhood Christmas party, may I suggest this as an option if no one wants to host one inside? I’ve been inspired by John Piper’s Don’t waste your (life, suffering, etc..)______ expressions. But I think I beat him to this one: “Don’t waste your driveway.”