Inspired by Emily Ley and her friends, I sent a message to our entire neighborhood in May asking if anyone would be interested in hosting a Driveway Happy Hour in their driveway on a Thursday or Friday evening in the summer. Within an hour, we had half of the summer slots filled and we were well on our way.
The rules for hosting were simple. Provide your driveway. That’s it.
Guests were responsible for everything else. We asked each guest to walk, drive or bike over to the driveway with their own beverages for kids and adults, their family, a chair or blanket, toys for the kids and enjoy! Show up when you can, miss when you need to. No big deal.
It wasn’t supposed to turn into more than that, but as the weeks went on and the event lasted longer than an hour, people got hungry and hosts started making AMAZING meals for the guests. Kids activities were simple but very fun and it morphed into something a bit bigger than originally planned, but very fabulous.
Please note that we will probably have to “hit the reset button” next year as one of my neighbors said just to be sure it stays simple.
Today I’m sharing our Driveway Happy Hour at our home from a couple of weeks ago.
Let’s talk about neighborhoods for a moment. We moved in March of 2012 and knew we’d love our neighborhood because we researched it like crazy before deciding to buy here. We visited the neighborhood in the summer many times, taking walks, playing at the park etc… to be sure it had the feel, the friendliness and the activity we were looking for.
It does. Moving from the city, that was one of the most important factors for us. And it is even better than we thought, but I wanted to dig deeper to figure out why our new neighborhood is such a great place to live.
What I’ve discovered is that to have true “community” in your neighborhood, you need the following:
- A common feeling of community. You can’t force it. The majority of the people who live in our development moved here because they wanted an open neighborhood. Our lots aren’t huge and we don’t allow privacy fences. I know this may not be encouraging for those of you who live in more developed or less friendly neighborhoods. Sorry.
- A desire to know your neighbors. The events that this neighborhood puts on are amazing and frequent. Everyone seems to really want a good neighborhood and to know their neighbors. At least 50 percent of our neighbors try to attend most events.
- Keep it simple for everyone. Many of our neighbors have children. Children are invited to most events. There are ladies nights and guys nights as well, but those events don’t conflict so hopefully couples can attend and take turns staying home with the littles.
- Take action yourself. It’s easy to let everyone else do all of the hard work and just enjoy events or skip them. Actually putting a little of your own time and effort in could make the difference in a neighborhood where there is no real leader. To be honest though, there is one man in our neighborhood who does handle the bulk of big events and communication and he does it well. And then there are several other people who host things from time to time and help out and all of our neighbors help with big events like National Night Out. We may have the best celebration in the country. No joke!
- Be open to different types of relationships. Some of our neighbors have become our friends. Some are just people we see at events. Both are completely fine! We love and need both.
This neighborhood was a community long before we moved here and I think that it’s largely because of a few key people who held it all together with hosting, email lists and communication. The best part of this ‘hood is that while all of these people were already friends and neighbors long before we moved in, we were still welcomed with open arms when we moved in. And every family who moves in receives the same welcome. They are added to an email list, invited to our neighborhood social media site and everyone is invited to all neighborhood events. It’s so inclusive.
And another positive, most of our social life is right here in our neighborhood with some of our new friends. Something we definitely didn’t expect when we moved in. Such a bonus!
I just wanted to share a bit about this neighborhood because I’ve had a lot of questions and interest on Instagram when I’ve shared photos from these weekly events. This year’s events are officially complete, but I’m sure there will be plenty of impromptu events and winter wine nights like last year.
Do you have any great traditions with your neighbors?