Do you wish you were more proactive in building relationships with your neighbors? Maybe you've been at your house for years and years and you don't know the names of anybody living near you. Here is a step-by-step process for an easy and disarming way to make a great first impression with your neighbors. Connect with the people on your street and take the first step in building relationships with neighbors and turning your home into a ministry center. Here's how you can host your own Backyard Christmas Party...

Location

  • Where in your setting would a neighborhood party work best?
  • Back yard, front yard, or inside? On the street in your cul-de-sac?


Supplies

  • What ideas do you have for the elements of a neighborhood Christmas party?
  • Brian & Joy tried to keep it simple and had hot chocolate, s'mores, water bottles, and a bonfire.
  • Always buy more supplies than what you think you will need for your expected attendance.


Whom to Invite

  • Invite your whole street, as long as you can handle everyone if they all come!
  • However, you don't have to invite your whole street. You can invite 3 houses to your left, 3 houses to your right, and the 3 houses in front of you. You can picture a tic-tac-toe board and invite the 8 houses around you. You can be even more selective than that. If you just have 2-3 houses over, that's great! Just decide what works best for the space you are going to use and go for it!


How to Invite

  • Go house by house and knock on doors. This method should have the best results and you have the opportunity to have more conversations and meet more people than you will on the day of your party. If no one is home, place flyers on the porch or on the flag of their mailbox.
  • Send a virtual invite on your neighborhood Facebook group or Nextdoor app.
  • There are lots of doorbell cameras these days, so be prepared to give your speech to that camera as well.
  • When inviting, keep it simple. First say that you live down the street and then share your name. Continue by saying, "We are having a get-together at our house and inviting the whole street. If you can make it, we would love to have you and your family come!" After you say it a few times it becomes easier.
  • You can find great flyer invites on Canva.com, clicking "flyer maker" or "invitation maker." 
  • What should be on the flyer? A picture of hot cocoa/wintery looking theme, "neighborhood meet and greet," time and date, your names, your address, optional: your phone number, "call or text with any questions," backyard bonfire, come and go, etc.)
  • Invite with 2-4 weeks' notice.


Day of the Party

  • Make sure your house is clean and your yard work done. If you are having a backyard party, you still want your bathrooms to be available to use.
  • Make sure you have your door and backyard gate open so it doesn't look closed off. Get balloons to make your house at the street, if you want. Keep outdoor lights on. Have some background music playing, Put up your pets.
  • Expect people to be fashionably late. It is likely that no one wants to be the first person at the party. 
  • To keep conversations going and easier, you can have icebreaker cards out with "would you rather..." questions, highs and lows from the past week, if you could be on a TV show, which one?, etc.


Remember these acronyms to help think of things to talk about:


ROCI

R - Residence (which house is yours in the neighborhood?

O - Occupation

C - Children

I - Interests


When talking to kids:


ISAM

I - Interests

S - School

A - Athletics

M - Music/Instruments


Listen hard during conversations.

You want to listen for their names. Remember their names! Write them down if you have to. And use their name when talking to them. If you forget their name once the party is over, you can go on whitepages.com and type in their address. You can probably guess at it since it's your street name then hopefully it will job your memory.

You want to listen for ways to serve them. 

If you find out a need while talking and you are able to meet that need, jump on the opportunity! If you hear they are going to help their daughter move to their new house, ask if they need help. If they are complaining because they have so many leaves in their gutters, offer your help, or at least for them to use your ladder. Listen on how you can be of service. Feel free to exchange numbers at the party. 


Final Thoughts

  • Don't get discouraged! If you get 2 or 3 families to come to your party, that's great! If you invite 100 houses and 4 come, that's great! You just take the first step, put yourself out there, and see how God uses you.
  • Think through the things that could happen if you do this in your neighborhood. How can this be a first step in reaching your neighbors, and what can you do throughout the year to follow up and keep the conversation going with your neighbors?
  • You can get together for a Super Bowl party, an egg hunt, a summer cookout, Halloween, etc. 
  • This party can be a great first impression and a great first step in reaching your neighbors. Often, the people on your street would be happy to connect at events like this. Let's take that step and begin to make our homes a ministry center!