I love community. And over the last few years, as I have pursued what I believe is a calling from Jesus, to love my neighbor and focus my ministry as close to home as possible, I have grown to love community even more.
When I was in high school, my parents moved into a small community with a town square, friendly neighbors, and parties. Lots of parties. We had block parties, Christmas parties, even a "howling at the moon" party! And as a young woman, it affected the way I saw my neighborhood and the people who lived there. I want my kids and my neighbors to have that, too. Even if it has to start with me.
This weekend we had a July 4th ice cream social and bike parade.
Y'all. You have to try this. It was almost NO WORK AT ALL!
What you need for an ice cream social is this:
2) ice cream
What you need for a bike parade:
1) streamers and shiny decorations
2) tape and scissors
3) people with bikes
Seriously. It could not be any easier.
Here's how we did it.
One month before the party: I sent my neighbor Malika a text, asking if they'd be in town on the 4th. Yes. Done.
Four days before the party: I designed a simple but fun invitation using PicMonkey, a free graphic design program online.
You don't even have to do this, because I've made one for you!
Click on the image to see it full-sized. Then right-click on the image and select save. Then upload to pickmonkey.com and add your own words!
Three days before the party: This part is FUN! Get a stack of simple paper plates and tape one invitation to each plate. Use a hole punch to make a hole at the top of each plate, about an inch down. Loop a rubber band through the hole to make a stretchy hanger for the doorknobs on your street.
Walk your invitations to each door. If you've never met your neighbors, this is a great time to knock on the door and introduce yourself.
(I made him pose for this.)
One day before the party: Hit up the Dollar Tree for cheap decorations like crepe paper streamers, curling ribbon, and foil stars. Balloons and flags are awesome, too! Pick up a couple (or more) of those giant tubs of generic ice cream at the grocery store. If you get more than you can fit in your freezer, see if you can store some in a neighbor's freezer. This is a great way to ease someone into the party. For ours, we had 6 tubs of chocolate and vanilla at three different houses. That's community!
Optional: even if you have asked people to bring their own toppings, you might want to grab a few syrups and sprinkles while you are out. Just in case.
The day of the party: On a hot day like July 4th, it's good to have water of some kind. Sprinklers, baby pools, and plenty of bottled or cooled water for drinking. We have this giant obnoxious blow-up slide that we only use a couple times a year. It was a hand-me-down from family, but it has been well used and loved by us. If you think you might be throwing a few of these block parties a year, think about investing in one (affiliate link) at some point. Of course, that's totally optional.
Set up tables for the ice cream and decorating supplies. Set out as many chairs as you can find. Fill up your drink dispenser with extra water. Fill a cooler with ice for storing the ice cream. Find your ice cream scoop. Maybe put out a bucket of sidewalk chalk for the kids. Turn on some music. And wait for the guests to arrive!
I have to admit, I did invite a couple of ringers--
my nieces who just got new bikes--to make sure the party looked full to passers by.
During the party: We kept two tubs of ice cream in the cooler, and two in the freezer inside. When one got mushy, we switched them out.
Serve up ice cream like it's going out of style. Let the kids pile on the toppings and go nuts.
(Jesus is lavish with His grace. The sprinkles should be free-flowing at the very least, while we are representing Him!)
Get to know your neighbors, where they live, their names, and even some phone numbers if possible. Talk to them and see how they'd like to get involved as a neighborhood. A street-wide garage sale? A book club?
I didn't know how to run a bike parade, and to be honest, I still don't! We let the kids go wild with the supplies for decorating.
Helpful grown-ups are a plus!
Then we lined them up for the parade!
Boomhauer marched at the front of the parade as the Grand Marshal. We all agreed that he was the Best Feline Grand Marshal anyone had ever seen.
We stood adults at the end of the block and the middle of the block (my house), in the street to discourage drivers from driving through. Then we just let the kids loose.
I thought they'd ride down and back and then be through. But they didn't want it to end! I was so moved by their enthusiasm!
They rode fast and slow, waving flags, and singing to the patriotic music Donnie was blasting from his phone onto a blue-tooth speaker.
Next year, we might line up the adults along the sidewalks to cheer everyone on.
It turned out better than I ever hoped, and I can't wait to do it again!
Have you ever had a block party or have some ideas to share? Let us know in the links below! Just like my block, this blog is a community. Let's work together!
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