Word on the street
Outdoor Living|Backyard & Outdoor Living #56
It’s time to gather your neighbours together and raise the roof with a neighbourhood party to end all parties
CARROL BAKER
With more and more of us staying closer to home these days, a neighbourhood party is a great way to entertain at home in your own backyard. Your guests don’t have to travel, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know your neighbours and build relationships.

Maybe you’ve just moved into the street, or you want to get to know the people three doors down you’ve lived near for years. Building connections with neighbours creates a sense of belonging, develops trust, and can make us feel safer in this ever-changing world.

But of course, even the most causal gettogether needs planning. What sort of event will you host? How will you cater food and drinks? Will it be an evening event or a daytime gathering? What do you need to do to prepare your outdoor spaces for your neighbourhood gathering?

GET PREPPED FOR SUCCESS

Deciding on a date and getting the word out to those who are invited is the first thing you need to do. Kelly Pagett from Little Miss Party Planner says the invitation sets the stage for any event. “Put a start and finish time, and introduce yourself if you don’t know everyone, including a fun fact about yourself as an ice-breaker,” she suggests.

Kelly says once you decide on a theme, translate that to your setting at home. “For a garden party, for example, I think greenery and white, with bunches of flowers, and then carry that theme through to the garden walkway that leads to the party,” she says.

Give your garden spaces a good spruce up several days before the event — wash outdoor decking, give outdoor furniture a good clean to remove mildew and spider webs, and trim bushes that overhang and obscure pathways.

OH-HELLO WE ARE HERE!

Creating a relaxed atmosphere begins the moment your guests arrive. Kelly suggests a welcoming drink is a good way to start. “Champagne on arrival is a nice touch, and maybe a little token like a cookie to say welcome to my home.”

Of course, people will always gravitate towards food. An antipasto table, where guests can take a plate and self-serve, is another way to create a feeling of welcome. If possible, a good idea is to have someone serving drinks, says Kelly. “They can roam around — it creates more of an atmosphere rather than guests grabbing a bottle of champagne and self-serving,” she shares.

Music at your gathering establishes the mood. By day, some mellow feel-good tunes through your outdoor speaker, and as dusk falls, you can ramp it up a notch. Arranging a few playlists beforehand keeps the music going and the atmosphere upbeat.

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