Summer officially arrives next Monday and SUMMER IN SEATTLE is the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy being neighborly. I discovered two years ago that by being intentional and organizing just one thing each month during the summer, the frequency of events really helped jump-start and enhance connection with my neighbors. I’ve been having a ball ever since!
Here are Four Easy and Outrageously Fun Gatherings Anyone Can Pull Together to Jump-Start Community in Their Neighborhood
National S’mores Day is celebrated annually on August 10, but every Pacific Northwesterner knows that the best time to enjoy the gooey, chocolatey, fire-roasted confection is ALWAYS. Everyone loves a S’more, so LEAN INTO IT and organize a S’mores party. Don’t have an outdoor fire pit? How about tossing some briquettes in a little hibachi in your driveway or condo common area? I can testify that you can even get a great toast on a marshmallow over a gas grill or indoor gas stove (I will NOT be denied). In any fashion – a warm summer evening or even beneath a little Seattle drizzle – S’mores are a delicious gathering opportunity that kids love and that bring out the kid in all of us.
2. Cookies in the Cul de Sac
Last year my neighbor Jenny coordinated “Cookies in the Cul-de-Sac” for National Night Out. NNO is always the first Tuesday in August, and it’s a GREAT opportunity to pull a block or two of your neighbors together. Lots of people really get into it and organize robust block parties, but if you’re just getting started with neighboring, keep it simple! Cookies in the Cul de Sac is a great, easy-to-pull-together way to, well, pull people together.
What’s that you say? You don’t have a cul-de-sac? Well, how about:
- Donuts in the Driveway
- Goodies in the Garage
- Parfaits by The Pool (“I mean, who doesn’t like a parfait?” said Donkey….)
- Pita bites on the Patio
- Chocolates in the Common Room
- Rice Krispy Treats on the Rooftop
- Munchies at My Place
You get the idea. National Night Out is Tuesday, August 2 – there are a bazillion ways to do it easy and do it well.
3. A Mid-Summer Night’s Sip
While the grapes are grown elsewhere, Puget Sound hosts 125+ wineries, tasting rooms and wine bars. Why not pick up a bottle or two of these distinctive varietals and host a casual “Sip & Appetizer” evening? Think of it as doing your part to “buy local”. Ahem.
This past weekend, I ‘converted’ my Neighborhood Coffee Klatch into a “Summer Sip.” For just two hours Sunday afternoon (4p-6p, which is traditionally ‘cocktail hour’) I invited my neighbor gals over for an informal sip. I invited them to either bring a bottle or bring a nosh, and the evening was fantastic. Lots of easy sharing, lots of connection, and even though is was the last ‘klatch of the season’ (we don’t meet during the summer) three women were able to attend for their very first time. Summer + Wine + Great Neighbors = Nirvana in Seattle.
If you’re not one for big parties, you can always keep it simple and have a great time with just a few neighbors. Several years ago my friend Jane wanted to buck the trend of “the front porch being replaced with the back patio,” so she created a casual gathering spot on the pathway to her front door. She christened it “The Rock Lounge”. She and her neighbors regularly gather throughout the summer for a glass of wine to relax and connect.
For A Mid-Summer Night’s Sip you could certainly coordinate an on-site babysitter for those with grade-school aged children. After all – the goal for the evening is NOT to get lit, but to get connected. #DrinkResponsibly!
And, if you don’t drink? No problem! How about after a long Saturday of yard work you simply walk across the street or next door with an ice-cold fridge-pack of soda and offer one to your equally sweaty neighbors? Not every connection with our neighbors needs to be formalized to be meaningful. Enjoy a cold sip together and get caught up on a bit of one another’s lives.
4. Exercise Reciprocity
A friend of mine once said that he thought part of the Seattle Freeze issue was due to a measurable ‘lack of reciprocity.’ He said that, in fact, for every 10 times (or more) his family had hosted something at their home, they had maybe received 1 invite back (and, to note, they’re really cool, well-liked people so don’t go thinking they’re just people with issues).
Could your summer community building goals include one that’s a simple thank-you-in-return invitation? Few things communicate a genuine interest more than an invitation to dinner. Dinner provides time for longer conversation, and for listening. Think about inviting to dinner that person or family that you’d like to “invite back” or say “thank you” to for a kindness they’ve given to you. When we give the gift of our time – time that is often pressured and over-scheduled – it speaks volumes to how much we value that person. In that space, deeper connection is born.
Summer is here. Let’s set some goals, enjoy some gatherings and start a connection-revival in our Greater Seattle neighborhoods.