Between busy schedules and different lifestyles, it’s hard for the families on a block or in a neighborhood to get to know each other. And that’s a shame, partly because close-knit neighborhoods are safer — good neighbors watch out for each other — and in part because they simply make daily life more enjoyable.
But you don’t have to accept the status quo; you can encourage neighbors to get to know one another. One of the most effective ways is to hold a fun contest, then throw a neighborhood party to celebrate the winners. If you’ve got a lot of children in your area, make the contest aimed at the younger set and draft the adults to help with the party preparations. Adult communities, on the other hand, can add a different flavor to their competitions and celebrations.
Hunting for Treasure
The beach lifestyle is everywhere in Jacksonville, and that includes searching for treasure in the sand. Kids love tales of pirates and buried treasure, so have a contest to see who can find the best treasure in their own yard. Rent some inexpensive metal detectors and allow each child one hour to search her property. Supply garden trowels with the detectors to help with the treasure digging, and consider including garden gloves to protect little hands as they dig. Hold the contest on successive days during a week, then set up the neighborhood party for the weekend. Display all the finds and give out amusing awards to the biggest, funniest, and most valuable find.
For a Good Cause
Charity walks are popular in the fall and winter in Jacksonville because the heat and humidity have gone and the weather is almost perfect for a race. Find a local charity 5K and hold a contest to see who in your neighborhood can raise the most money before the walk. Give the contestants a set amount of time to collect donations, such as three months, then make t-shirts and walk as a group. Get together for a post-race after-party to compare totals and enjoy each other’s company. You’ll gain valuable friendships and the charity will win needed donations.
Whether it’s 55+ or simply singles, Florida has numerous adult-only neighborhoods, and the Jacksonville area is no different. If your home is surrounded by others with no children, spend a warm evening holding a cocktail competition. Florida’s warm evenings encourage partying year round, creating a need for fun new drinks. Have everyone bring their own ingredients, and pour drink samples into shot-sized glasses. Everyone can taste the various cocktails and then vote on the winners. For those who abstain from alcohol, create a “non-alcoholic” category. Make it a yearly competition with a rotating trophy or plaque going to the winner each year, to be displayed in his home.
Creating a close-knit neighborhood doesn’t happen overnight, but an interactive contest or party will get the ball rolling. Once the ice is broken, it will be much easier to forge ties with neighbors — and in the meantime, everybody gets to enjoy the party.
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