Mood-Boosting Ideas for the Entire Neighborhood
Note: This article was originally posted in April and has been updated in August, 2020 to reflect our pandemic ‘marathon’ situation. If you haven’t tried some of these ideas with your own neighbors, now is the time – time to connect and to boost up one another as we continue through this tough time.
Anyone else feel like it’s Groundhog Day every day? Though we may not be able to get within 6 feet of our favorite neighborhood friends, we can still communicate and celebrate with one another – we just need to get creative! Check out these 12 ways neighborhoods across the country and around the world are collaborating to lift everyone’s spirits – rally your crew and kick off some community love!
Popsicle & Sprinkler Parties
Coordinate a day to have your neighbors turn on the sprinklers and encourage the neighborhood kids to make the rounds for some splashing (socially distanced) romp around the ‘hood at a designated time. Break open some boxes of popsicles to share for extra smiles!
Puzzle & Toy Swap
Ready to retire that puzzle your whole family can do in their sleep? Totally over the current board game collection? Ask your neighbors to make a swap! Trade Clue and Candy Land for Monopoly and Scrabble - doesn’t hurt to ask!
Have you mastered sourdough bread, banana nut muffins or perfected chocolate chip cookies? Surprise your neighbors with goodies at their doorsteps.
Did you jump on the gardening bandwagon in the Spring? If so, chances are you’re now faced with an abundance of herbs, cucumbers, tomatoes or zinnias. Either surprise your neighbors with a basket of sunshine or set up an abundance picnic table for sharing.
Teddy Bear & Rainbow Scavenger Hunts
Be it that you are still permitted to walk your neighborhood, perhaps you’ve spotted teddy bears peeking through windows or rainbows popping up in various places? If not, pick up the trend in your own ‘hood to brighten someone’s day! See the inspiration here.
Free Book Hubs Turned Free Food Hubs
Remember that extra can of chickpeas from the recipe that didn’t turn out? Too many cans of kidney beans from chili season to mention? With a shortage of our favorite usuals at the local grocery stores, you might have something someone is missing and craving! Check your pantry, check the expiration dates and see what you can do without. Think canned goods and dry goods - anything that is tightly sealed, then add it to the neighborhood free little library. Take this opportunity to turn it into a free little food pantry – create a fun sign to let others know what you’re up to and invite them to join the swap!
Mailbox (or Front Door) Decorating Contest
Let your mailbox (or front door) take the spotlight this season with a decorating contest! Create categories to inspire your neighbors: Favorite book or movie themed, superheroes, patriotic, holidays, ‘Most Creative’ – the list could go on! Get the whole family involved to pass the time and aim for the gold!
ProTip: Share the contest with local restaurants in your area and ask them to judge - winner gets gift cards for take-out from their favorite joints!
It’s craft time (again!) Ditch the popsicle sticks – this three-part craft will keep you and the kids busy for at least a few hours (thankfully!)
Part 1: Head out on a rock hunt – keep your eyes peeled for smooth river-looking rocks if possible; otherwise, any rock will work if it has some space for a main flat area to paint a message/picture.
Part 2: Arrive home with your natural loot and paint colorful messages on bright backgrounds directly on the rocks: hope, love, together, hearts – whatever you guys dream up!
Part 3: Walk around your very own neighborhood and plant them where your neighbors are sure to see them: below a stop sign, on top of that little stone wall, a neighbor’s porch. Your crew’s creativity will be sure to spark a smile. Need ideas? Find them here.
We’re all in need of love right now, so why not share it by adorning your front door, porch, or windows with a colorful array of mixed hearts? Happy Hearts are popping up across the country as a symbol of hope and love. With absolutely no rules, everyone can get involved – use whatever materials are on hand and express yourself! Get inspired here.
Holiday Cheer Year ‘Round
In December (or November, depending on how prompt or pumped for the holiday season you typically get), there’s nothing quite like the warm glow of holiday lights dancing through the trees and across the rooftops. Neighborhoods across the country have hopped on the opportunity to spread cheer this spring! This may not be the time to pull out the blow-up Santa and reindeer gear, but a few lights on your porch will remind you and others that we’re in this together.
Dress up for Trash Day
The day will finally arrive that we will be able to hit the streets again, until then, the mundane task of taking the trash to the street will have to do. But who said it has to continue to be boring – sheesh, it might be the only outing of the day! Neighbors across the globe (this event started in Australia) are dressing up to take the trash out! From Elsa to scary monsters to cowboys, people are drumming up laughter house to house when neighbors get a glance of Superman taking out the garbage. Wrestle out the Halloween/Fall Festival box or rummage around in the very (very) back of your closet (maybe you’ll find some inspiration in an old bridesmaid dress?) – who will you be this week for trash day? Get the full story here.
Get Involved with Your Local Gratitude Group (or Create One!)
Many neighborhoods have ‘Gratitude Groups’ where they share or give away their extra stuff for free in efforts to help their community. Things like kids clothes, craft supplies, toys and games, yard tools - whatever you find that you no longer need, but could be helpful to someone else. Post it on Facebook, NextDoor or your neighborhood email ListServ and dive into the spirit of giving - your kindness will turn contagious! While you’re at it, take a look at how you can form Mutual Aid groups.
Community is key now more than ever – stay connected and do your part to collaborate, have fun and boost neighborhood morale!