This is a topic that I get asked a LOT about, and for good reason! It's because each year I host 4 community events (1 per quarter) for my neighborhood which is about 1400 homes roughly. I live in a neighborhood that does not have a Home Owners Association, who are usually the ones that would host a community event. So I decided a few years back that it would be really fun and special to bring the Twelve Bridges neighborhood together on a regular basis through community events.
As a Realtor, it's a great opportunity for me to get out there and meet my neighbors, but even more important is that as a mom, this is a great chance for me to give my kids something fun to do while interacting with other families in our area.
I have many friends and co-workers who would love to host a community event in their area but aren't sure where to start. If this is something you might want to try in your neighborhood, take a look below at my guide to bringing your neighborhood together through a community event.
1. The very first thing you need to do is identify what type of event you want to host. My events are usually an Easter egg hunt, a movie in the park night, trunk-or-treat, and cookies and milk with Santa. I find that these 4 events are a big hit with people in neighborhood, but you can get as creative as you want with your event ideas!
2. Determine where you want your event to be. I always host my events at the same place: Twelve Bridges Elementary School. It's a centralized location for my neighborhood, has a GREAT park, and is really the heart of our community. It helps to keep things like location consistent if you plan on hosting events regularly.
3. Book the location. If you are using a park or school, you will need to call the City and School District. For example, Twelve Bridges Elementary School and the park next to it are separate, so depending on which area I use, I need to book with either the school district or the city and both cost money and require insurance. Say you use the park, you will need to fill out an event application, which usually costs around $96, and then pay for the insurance for the event which is around $150-ish, depending on how many people you expect. To offset this cost I reached out to my Home Insurance agent and purchased an umbrella policy which covers insurance for both the city and school district. It cost me around $500, but it covers any number of events I host at no extra charge.
4. Determine your budget and write down what you will need to host this event. Remember, events can REALLY add up, trust me! So the best way to keep yourself in check is to list out a detailed budget and stick to it! Think about every item you will need to make this event happen, and don't spare the details. Be as thorough as you can. Say you're hosting a movie in the park event: you will need the rent an inflatable screen, pay people to operate it, you might consider providing snacks, drinks, trash bags, promotional materials, provide the DVD, etc. It can cost you a lot! To save money, consider paying for the inflatable movie screen, but asking parents to bring their own snacks and treats. They already bring their own blankets and chairs, snacks won't be too big an issue. Another way I save money is by asking for a discount for being a return customer! For instance -at 3 out of 4 events I have bouncey houses. After the first couple events, I called up the owner and told him I was a repeat customer and planned on using his company for all of my events, and he gave me a discount without hesitation! You never know until you ask.
5. Get support. If you're a Real Estate agent, ask your lender or other preferred vendors to sponsor the event. They can market themselves to the community along side you while enjoying a fun event with their families. If you're a parent or individual who wants to host an event to bring your neighborhood together, talk to your neighbors! Ask them to chip in to help cover the event and have them help you rally other families to join in too. If you got 10 families to chip in, your whole event would be covered! Once you have your budget secured, make sure to meet with the families who are helping and determine who will do what. Assigning clear roles and responsibilities for the event will lessen the stress significantly. For instance, maybe Becky and John are in charge of drinks and keeping the ice chest filled. Dave and Mary night be in charge of shopping for the snacks, and Lisa and Linda might be in charge of grabbing the decorations and setting up, while you handle the crowd and cleanup. Play into people's strengths, you want this to be fun!
6. Market the event. My favorite way to do this is through a monthly neighborhood newsletter and door hangers. A newsletter serves a double purpose as it is also fun for people to get. Not to mention I love making it! My newsletter includes information on my event, recipes, neighborhood happenings + things to look forward to, information from my home insurance agents on home maintenance tips, information on the real estate market from my preferred lender, homes that recently sold in our area, and so much more. I love keeping the neighborhood informed and if I have an event, this is the best way to market it. To save money, consider doing a digital newsletter that you can email to people regularly. Maybe part of your event budget is having door hangers made and delivered. Another great option is a neighborhood Facebook group. This is a place where people can share information on anything regarding your neighborhood. Just be sure to have an active group moderator to keep things civil and under control! You might even consider going door to door! This gives you a chance to introduce yourself and let other families know about the upcoming event. Focus on one portion of the neighborhood every couple of days and you can get this done in no time.
7. Host your event and remember the purpose. Don't let the stress of planning stop you from having a great time! Remember why you wanted to host this event in the first place: to bring people together. Know that everything will work out and that even if it's not perfect, you will have a great turn out and lots of fun!