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Celebration Ideas 

This section was developed with the help of Chantal Dauray from Nos rituels.com


Introduction


Neighbours Day, it’s simple and everyone participates. Modern living takes up most of our time. To make this celebration easy for everyone, opt for a simple formula like a potluck where everyone brings something to eat and drink. That said, if you feel like doing something more elaborate, go for it and have fun. At some celebrations, there will be a dozen or so people, others fifty and some even a hundred. The number of people expected obviously has an impact on the type of formula that can be used. Want to make it even simpler? Get together with your neighbours to organize your event. And don’t forget, not all your neighbours will feel like partying. Don’t be disappointed if some are unwilling to attend. 


Environmentally Friendly and Healthy Celebrations

Feast ideas

Creating ambiance with little cost

Neighbours together

Resources 


Other ideas? Share them in the discussion forum. We will include them in this section. 


Environmentally Friendly and Healthy Celebrations


Try to be as environmental as possible by reducing the quantity of waste generated at your event (reusable dishware, fabric tablecloths). As for the food, without being a complete purist, make significant room for healthy foods. Here are a few ideas: make sure to have vegetables with dip, children love them and they will eat fewer chips. Instead of the traditional hotdogs, opt for hamburgers and pita souvlakis for example.  



Feast Ideas


Potluck. In this format, every neighbour brings a meal and something to drink and shares them with everyone else there. 


Heartfelt Potluck. This is the generous version of the classic potluck: everyone cooks double and gives the surplus to the tired parents in the neighbourhood. 


United Horizons. Do you live in a multicultural neighbourhood? You can have each family prepare meals representing their origins. All home-grown Quebeckers? How about preparing your favourite meals and including a copy of the recipe with them. By discovering your neighbours' tastes, this will make it easier for you if you invite them over for supper during the year! 


Picnic at the Local Park. Red-checkered tablecloths spread out on the grass brilliantly convey a countryside ambiance. Everyone brings a meal including small things to be shared to make it a festive event. You could also set up a table and have a potluck.   


Brunch. Here is a casual option, perfect for young families who have been up since the crack of dawn! Get together with your neighbours and organize a potluck brunch. Have some sparkling mimosa and serve coffee with flavoured creams. One neighbour can make a quiche, the other croissants, another can bring the jams. Someone can make toast over the BBQ. 


Méchoui. Seeing pork, lamb, beef or chicken roasting on a spit often has a mouth-watering effect on people! Some caterers have made it their specialty. Getting everyone to chip in financially can make it more affordable of course. 

Oktoberfest. Ask your neighbours to bring various types of sausages, served with sauerkraut and beer from different countries. Small pressurized kegs work well with this type of event. Another option would be grilled sausage sandwiches. 

A Housewarming Party with your Neighbours. Are you new to the neighbourhood? What if you combined your housewarming party with a Neighbours Day event? You can have a potluck with food items that can keep for a long time on a table (crackers, nuts, olives, cheese, etc.). 


Progressive or Rotating Meal. Appetizers at the Tremblays, the main entrée at the Duvals and the dessert at the Leclairs! Or if you are all sitting around the same table, change seats or eat at different table for each course. 


Buffet Style! Everyone can pick and choose their own meal from ingredients laid out on platters. Some ideas: pizzas on pitas, fajitas, pasta, spring rolls or original sandwiches. 


Barbecue With a New Flair. Try mix grilling (e.g. lamb chops, chicken breasts and grilled sausages) or a platter of various brochettes (pork, chicken, beef, vegetables). For dessert? A brochette of grilled fruit! 


Tapas Fiesta! Ask everyone to prepare a small tapas-style entrée. Add some sangria and presto you’re in Barcelona! 


Tea Time. Here is a concept that is both chic and easy: have various types of tea, scones, Devonshire cream and homemade jams. 

Indulge Your Sweet Tooth.
  • How about a dessert-making contest? What a great opportunity to discover the specialities of your Lebanese and Pakistani neighbours. As an added bonus, you get to share recipes!
  • Everyone makes their own sundae with the ingredients laid out on a table (ice cream, chocolate and strawberry syrups, caramel, bananas, cherries, nuts, whipped cream).
  • Present various flavours of ice cream or sorbet in a cooler.

Creating Ambiance with Little Cost 


Breaking the Ice
Suggestions for getting to know one another better and creating bonds of friendship:
  • Bit of Banter Between Neighbours. As a small group or as teams for each table, take turns answering questions from the Ice Breaker category from the popular discussion game Bit of Banter. It’s amazing what you can discover! There is also a junior version for children 7 and older.
  • Everyone prepares an “elevator pitch” to present themselves. This expression means a conversation that lasts... well the time it takes to go up the elevator! A great idea for those living in a condo building.
  • Now Who’s That Beautiful Baby? Everyone brings a baby picture of themselves. You post them on a billboard and the one who makes the most matches wins!

A Musical Feast!
  • Everyone brings a CD of their latest favourite music.
  • Have any neighbours who play a little guitar? Any musically-gifted children in the neighbourhood? Invite them to come create an energetic atmosphere with a playful demonstration of their talents. Break out the spoons!
  • Ask the teenagers in the neighbourhood to play music at your event or make a deal with them: play the great classics from you time and they "rock" your guests with the hits of today. 
  • Organize an iPod Battle! Two DJs dish out sound bites from their iPods and the “public” votes for the song they like the most!
  • Karaoke, always a crowd pleaser, will spice up your event in no time.
  • If you are having a bigger party, get everyone to chip in and hire an African or South American band to get everybody moving to some lively music!
Liven up your Festivities
Fun activities, whether you’ve known each other forever or if you’ve just met.
  • Outdoor games, bringing the young and young-at-heart together. For example: have a soccer, volleyball or basketball tournament, play horseshoes, pétanque, croquet, hoola-hooping, bean bag or limbo, rent an inflatable play structure for the kids, let your imagination run wild...
  • Water Balloon Dodge Ball. An entertaining variation of dodge ball. Fill up a few dozen balloons with water and start playing. Warm weather and a bathing suit would be preferable!
  • Wet Volleyball. Played with teams of two, each equipped with a dish cloth that they hold between them and that they use to both launch water balloons at their opponents who must catch the projectiles with their own dish cloth.
  • Group Art in the Street. Get chalk in every colour. Block off a space in the street and invite the neighbours to contribute to the group creation. Each person adds something to what was created by the neighbour who came before them. The end result will certainly surprise you and all your neighbours will be proud of their joint creation!
  • Colourful Mural. Buy some crayons, pencil crayons or gouache along with a long strip of paper or fabric that you will stick to an outside wall. As a suggestion, ask the children to represent life in the neighbourhood. To all you budding artists out there, this is an opportunity to create a collective work of art. Then approach the local convenience store, community centre or municipality to hang your collective creation.
  • Chalk Drawing Contest. Set up several spaces in the street and invite the children to let their imagination fly on the theme of neighbourliness. Then get the parents to vote on the best one.
  • Board Games. On a long rectangular table, organize stations with board games laid out at each one. Games like Pictionary and Cranium encourage players to use various kinds of skills and talents. The Internet site Nanny In The Box offers downloadable games. And for the card sharks among you there is always games like War or Poker. 
  • Treasury Hunt. To entertain the kiddies while the parents enjoy a drink, hide candy, coconuts and small figurines around the neighbourhood. Ask some of the teenagers to prepare the clues, they make great organizers! 
  • Ideas for Creative Fingers. Make your own necklaces, do some handicrafts with the kids or create scrapbook pages with photos of your neighbours.
  • Artisan Demonstration. Ask some of the older neighbours to give a workshop on knitting for example.
  • Guess who... Everybody takes a piece of paper and writes down the habits and customs of the neighbourhood, e.g. the daily constitutional of the spaniel and its master or the person who puts out his/her Christmas lights first. You have to guess who it is! Why not create some amusing sketches or have a game of improv?
  • I want to make a toast to... Pick out the name of one of your neighbours from a colourful top hat (or another interesting container) and make a personalized toast to this person during the course of the celebration. 
  • Yard Sale or Trades. Combine your celebration with a neighbourhood yard sale or make trades: you could trade toys, books, CDs or children's clothing.
  • Put on your reporter’s hat. The challenge: get an unusual story from the neighbours in attendance to add to the celebration's scrapbook.  
  • Fire Beautiful Fire. If it is permitted in your municipality, close out the evening with some fireworks, a friendship fire or around an outside fireplace. The children will love roasting a few marshmallows!
Inspiring Traditions from around the World
  • In Mexico, piñatas are a popular activity at fiestas. You can find all kinds of piñatas in party accessory stores. If you have the time (and the talent!) to make them out of paper-mâché, put things in there other than candy. For example, you could have small toys, hockey or baseball cards, etc.
  • Holi hola, a Colourful Event! During the Holi celebration, which celebrates the coming of Spring (also known under the name of “celebration of colour”), people get covered in very colourful powders and get sprayed with water! If you cannot find the type of powder the Hindus use, get water colours in fuchsia, pink, royal blue, etc. A very colourful activity, fun for both kids and adults. Make sure to dress accordingly... and immortalize the event in photos! If you want to make it simpler, do face painting for the children.
  • During Purim, Jews have a custom of asking their children to put on costumes. They are given treats, a bit like Halloween. And what if the little kids got dressed as their favourite heroes? You could also have a theme for your party so that everyone could participate. If you live in a multicultural neighbourhood, ask people to get dressed in traditional costumes!

Neighbours Together 

What if your celebration became the starting point of constructive alliances?
  • You could set up a bartering club, sharing your tips and skills, establishing a list of potential babysitters, creating a community garden, creating a blog or Facebook group for the neighbourhood, etc. To encourage this kind of trading, circulate a page and have those interested write down their e-mail address.
  • If you want some inspiration, visit the Accorderie site, a network for bartering services (no money exchanging) where members make available to others their skills and know-how in the form of service offers. Basic principle: one hour of service rendered equals an hour of service received.
  • Check out the initiative (Voisins solidaires [Neighbours Together]). Initiated by our friends in France as a continuation of Neighbours Day throughout the year. The purpose of the program is to promote little favours between neighbours and neighbourhood solidarity.
Resources
  • You can find a lot of tips on organizing your Neighbours Day and other momentous occasions in Réinventez vos cérémonies, fêtes et rituels!,Chantal Dauray, Stanké, 2004, 356 p.
  • 100 idées pour animer une fête de famille, Pierre Lecarne, Marabout, 2002, 277 p.
  • 365 activités à faire après l’école, Cynthia MacGregor, Les Éditions de l’Homme, 2000, 400 p.
 



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