When Sunset went looking for neighborhoods that are great places to live in, we collected creative ways in which residents all over the West have improved their areas, many by strengthening the bond they share with neighbors. Here are some of your best ideas.
Organize community events
1. Host an annual Southwest-style luminaria display (one neighborhood has more than 50,000 candles in bags lining its streets).
2. Combine cause and community by presenting an annual home tour to raise money for charities.
3. Organize regular wine-tasting parties. You’ll be surprised at all the local sommeliers.
4. Hold small music concerts on a common green. Encourage karaoke (responsibly).
5. Sponsor a holiday celebration such as an Easter egg hunt, a summer solstice party, a Fourth of July bike parade and party, Oktoberfest with grilled bratwurst, or a Halloween block party.
6. Start a regular “Mom’s night out.” Wine and dine, go bowling, or catch a late-night mani/pedi.
Help each other
7. Create a new kind of Neighborhood Watch: Build a “care force” that helps out with dinners and errands when neighbors need a hand, and/or host an emergency preparedness night in which you get organized and learn about your neighbors’ special skills (CPR training, etc.).
8. Schedule an annual “barn raising,” at which a volunteer work crew helps neighbors with household projects, from fixing the pipes to mending a fence.
9. Share house keys with your next-door neighbors, and know whom to call in case of an emergency.
10. Encourage a word-of-mouth community network so kids know there’s always someone watching over them.
11. Start a progressive dinner tradition on your block. Ask each home to serve a dish, and go house hopping until you’re contentedly full.
12. Host movie nights, using a garage door as the movie screen. Alternate which home gets to pick the rental, and don’t forget the popcorn.
13. Consider building a gate in fences between backyards to foster camaraderie and use for emergencies.