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Have you ever wanted to host a neighborhood party, but felt overwhelmed by the amount of work it would entail? Try throwing a Pop-Up Party. It’s the easiest event you will ever have, and your neighbors will love you for it!
Getting to Know the Neighbors
We had only lived in our new home for about a month when I decided it was time to introduce my neighbors to a little event I call the “Pop-Up Party”. I’d started the pop-up concept in our former neighborhood, and they were always a hit.
It seemed like a good time to get the new neighbors on board, and I was anxious to meet them all.
Granted, I’d bumped into some of them here and there, mostly while walking the dog. Some I’d only seen in passing, and others not at all. My husband had met almost none of them since he’d been spending long days at work and was busy on weekends helping get settled in the new house.
“There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.”
– Jim Henson
What is a Pop-Up Party?
A Pop-Up Party is simply an easy neighborhood event with very little planning involved. You choose a date and time. Hold it in a public location such as your driveway, front yard, or even the middle of the cul-de-sac. Encourage contributions of food and beverages, and then, just hang out with the neighbors! The key is to keep it super-simple, with minimal planning, little to no clean-up, and above all, no stress! This is a time when everyone should be having fun!
Choosing a Date and Time
I like to have Pop-ups on Sundays around 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. Sundays tend to be a bit more relaxed, and late afternoon usually means people have wrapped up their activities for the day but haven’t started dinner quite yet. Holding the event at this time also tends to keep the party to just a couple of hours, which is perfect for a simple neighborly activity.
That said, we have had brunch pop-ups, Friday night cocktails, Monday Night Football viewings – just so long as it’s a quick and easy event, it can be anytime that works for you!
For our first pop-up in our new neighborhood, I created a simple but festive flyer on Canva and taped a copy to everyone’s front door about a week ahead of time. I also posted them on our communal mailbox. I specifically stated that no RSVPs were needed (there’s nothing to keep track of that way).
If you’ve got everyone’s email or phone number, invitations get even easier. Just drop a quick email or text message to the group, and you’re on your way.
We set up a couple of folding tables, put out lawn chairs, and turned on some music. Yes, we were right out in the middle of the cul-de-sac! When people don’t know you, it’s far more comfortable for them to join in when they can see what’s happening from their own windows, rather than going into someone’s home or backyard. Pick a very visible location.
Also – and this is important – since the event is not in your home, there is no cleaning, decorating, or other fuss to be had! E-Z!
I knew at this event there would be no small children, since none of our neighbors here have young kids. However, our court at the old house was full of kids. For safety, we would put hockey nets across the street. They were not wide enough to block cars from coming through, but they did send out an alert to any drivers to slow down and pay attention. The kids had plenty of time to move onto a front yard before any car came close to the event, so it was very safe.
Here is another area in which the pop-up party shines. The idea is to keep things very, very simple!
I put together a cheese tray and a veggie tray, two bottles of wine, and a cooler with beer and water.
As the neighbors strolled up, they came with their own beverages. Although I hadn’t asked, many of them also contributed appetizers and snacks. Ultimately, we had more than enough to drink and nibble on. Everyone brought whatever they chose, and we very organically had a great selection of food.
“People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.”
— Joseph F. Newton Men
Since I did not request RSVPs, I had no idea ahead of time who was coming to the event, but I was eager to get to know whoever came. As it turned out, we were joined by neighbors from eleven of the thirteen houses on our court.
It turned out that some of our neighbors had never met each other before, so everyone was so appreciative of the fact that I made the effort to invite them all to an event.
We ate and drank and mostly, talked and laughed.
We had a great time getting to know one another and learning who lived in which home.
After the Party Ends
Clean-up was a matter of everyone taking their own dishes and glasses home with them, folding our tables and putting them away, and dropping the trash in the bin.
Oh, and of course we turned the music off.
Ever since that first party, we’ve had a friendly relationship with everyone on our court. We walk dogs together. We collect each other’s mail and water plants if someone is out of town. We check up on the elderly couples if we don’t see them consistently. Everyone stops in the court to chat and catch up. We’re a close group!
We’ve been in this home for two years now. Three new neighbors have moved in after us, and we’ve had a pop-up each time, to welcome them.
Each event is just as simple and fun as the previous one.
There’s something really special about knowing your neighbors, not just to wave in the morning, but to know their names, and to be able to call them friends.
“The best time to make friends is before you need them.”
– Ethel Barrymore
Final Thoughts on Hosting a Pop-Up Party
Isn’t friendship what life is all about?
I love to entertain, and we’ve done some very elaborate parties over the years. But, for a simple good time with the neighbors, I say nothing beats a pop-up party for a simple yet fun event. Try it and I think you will agree!