No matter the size of your neighborhood, having a close tight-knit community is important. Our neighbors are the eyes and ears of our community when each of us is away from home. We confide, trust and depend on our neighbors for neighborly duties, crime prevention, and general kindness and that makes living in our community feel more like home.
How can we repay our neighbors for their kindness? We can bake a dish or some cookies, take them to lunch or just write a simple thank you card but all of that will fail in comparison to holding a “community BBQ.” Planning a community BBQ will lift morale within the community, it will make new neighbors feel welcomed and it will break the tension of unfair judgments passed on someone you really don’t know. Getting the entire neighborhood involved is fun and rewarding and it will serve the neighborhood as a whole by strengthening the community fibers by weaving them together. It gives everyone a chance to feel a part of something and it’s time to relax and socialize.
Here is the BIG question…..”How do you pay for it?” Of course, no one person wants to foot a massive bill for planning a large BBQ unless you can afford it. It can get expensive, time-consuming and the coordinator can find themselves stressed, burdened and regretting the decision in the long run if the event is not planned properly. Let’s discuss strategies on how to successfully plan and execute an enjoyable community BBQ.
Here are a few simple rules that you should follow before preparation even gets underway:
- Set the Date – Picking a good date is critical to having a successful and fun event. You don’t want to set a community event when it’s too cold or rainy and you don’t want to set the event when there are other larger local events people may want to attend. Keep in mind you can’t please everyone, so you’re shooting for a majority. Avoid big holidays (although some may work like 4th of July or Memorial Day) and try to avoid heavy vacation weeks in the summer. A good plan is to set up a blank calendar near the community bulletin board and let everyone vote on a day or email everyone and tally the votes that way. The date with the most votes will be the day.
- Communicate – Be sure after the date is picked you let everyone know. Send out emails, a newsletter or invite, post it at the community center and even follow up in person or via phone.
- GET INVOLVED – Everyone needs to be involved! Make sure you get everyone involved and divide and assign specific tasks so that everything is covered. Be sure you do not leave anyone out of the contribution process. This is a community event so it’s important everyone feels like they did their part, this is not about who gets the glory or showing off, it is about getting everyone involved and working together. Unless someone can’t physically or financially contribute then everyone needs an assignment and to be responsible for their part of the event.
- Organize & Plan – Planning is an essential key to the success of the event. The more successful the event the better time it will be for all (including yourself). First determine the number of guests (factor in plus ones) and set a limit on the number of “outside guests” neighbors can bring. Everyone (children included) who lives within the community should automatically be invited but for single neighbors who want to bring dates or friends try and limit it to plus 1 or 2. Also, you want to have an RSVP type invitation with the deadline to get a final headcount so you can plan the next phase. Then you will need to create a menu, activity list and etc. for your event. It is always nice to have something for the adults and kids to do instead of just standing around. You can create a “theme” if you want to and it adds an extra layer of fun for everyone. Some themes include a luau, beachy themes, patriotic, white parties, and even zombies. Once you have planned the menu and activities you will need to divide all the tasks up. Depending on how many people are within your community, depends on how large and elaborate your BBQ can get. A great way to divide a list it to create a chart and post it publicly or online and let everyone sign up for something. In each box put a dish, meat, decorations, drinks or something like plates and charcoal. This allows people who are not great cooks to buy something or contribute in another way. Make sure you don’t have overlapping side dishes like more than one person bringing salad or beans. Be specific and write out the menu and if someone wants to contribute something that is not on there you can always
Now that you have a starting point for your even here are some great suggestions on how to pay for the event so NO one person gets stuck footing the bill.
- RAFFLE – Select a few members of your neighborhood (including the coordinator of the event) to visit or call local businesses or major companies and have them donate prizes that can be auctioned off at a raffle you’ll hold before the event. You can get a large roll of tickets usually from an office supply store or make them online yourself and sell raffle tickets to cover the costs of your community BBQ. Make sure the tickets have a place for the purchaser’s phone number so you can call them if they win. You can sell tickets to anyone. Good items to auction off are gift cards, dining certificates, electronics, and special services.
- Community Garage Sale – You can organize a community garage sale, which is actually pretty easy by asking neighbors to donate unwanted items to sell. Select a nearby parking lot to hold your garage sale or just ask a few adjoining neighbors to use their yards. All proceeds from the community sale will be used to fund the neighborhood BBQ. Be sure to advertise the garage sale in the local paper and put up signs. The more successful the garage sale, the bigger the BBQ can be later.
- Local Donations – Often times local businesses can donate specific products you need or want. Local stores may donate food or paper products, even local BBQ spots may donate some cooked meat to your event. Check around your community and get as many donations of items as you need and that means less work for you and your neighbors.
- Neighborhood contribution – This way means everything is written out from the food down to the plastic forks that will be used and everyone gets assigned an item so that you know 100% everyone is contributing and your entire list is covered. You won’t have to collect or raise any money because everyone will be bringing or buying the items needed. However, if something comes up for a neighbor at the last minute and they cancel you run the risk of being short that item. Sometimes it’s good to have a backup plan or buy extra that can be returned later.
Now that we have given you the basics on how to plan your community event below are some fun summer and BBQ recipes found on Pinterest. These recipes are perfect for your next community event or party. Frankly, these recipes are perfect for any time! ENJOY
- Ice cream cake
- Summer Sangria
- Summer side salad
- Grilled Burgers
- Cowboy beans
- Margarita Jell-O shots
- Skinnydip for chips
- Corn on the cob for a crowd
- Something unexpected
- Potato salad options
- Deviled eggs