I am the chairman of our annual neighborhood party and would love some suggestions. A couple of people bring their barbecue grills and enough hot dogs, brats and burgers for the crowd. Last year we had a large variety of side dishes, some were eaten, others were not. Because of lack of table space, I would like to narrow down the types of side dishes to salads, beans and maybe grilled veggies. In other words, fewer choices but more volume of those choices. Would it be odd to ask people to partner with a neighbor and make the same thing(s) or should I just take my chances? I should mention, this party has grown over the 4 years we have been doing it. We started with about 20 people the first year and last year we had close to 90, which accounts for approximately 30 families. As you can imagine, 30 side dishes takes up a lot of room on the tables. Any thoughts?
It wouldn't be odd at all! Some of them would probably appreciate having a partner. Others would probably appreciate having some direction. We used to post a menu at work for Thanksgiving and have people sign up for what they wanted to do such as
That might encourage those who want to do a particular type dish to coordinte with others who sign up to do the same.
You will, of course, have a few who do their own thing, but what the heck!
I always suggest that 2-3 go in on one dish. One or two could buy the ingredients...the other do the work.
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When we do dinners at our church, instead of a standard potluck, we pick a menu ahead of time. The most popular is lasagna, salad and garlic bread. For a warm weather menu we have done hamburgers, potato salad and corn on the cob. I think asking people to go together on food is a good idea. Some of our ladies work and have no time for cooking but would love to contribute.
Don't forget desserts too. Brownies are a hit with our group and easy to eat. Pies and cobblers require extra utensils and plates.
I think it would be fine to get a "menu" -- i.e. potato salad, coleslaw, roasted veggies to narrow down choices, however . . .
I hate to sound negative but . . .
a lot of people are not used to or comfortable for cooking for 90. That would be a lot of potato salad to fix.
If you assign dishes so that it IS just potato salad, coleslaw, etc.,and they chose what to bring -- a normal or double recipe, then you will have several kinds and there will be some eaten and some not (except maybe by the family that brought it)
What about finding a recipe that you like for the dishes you think go with the hot dogs and hamburgers and hand those recipes out to enough neighbors to make that dish so it will feed the entire crowd (i.e. potato salad serves 10 -- have 5 neighbors make a double batch). That way I don't have to ask neighbor Mary for money to help pay for the dish or have her in my kitchen trying to help. (I'm a loner cook!)
You may have some rogues who will do as they please but at least you should have enough food to feed everyone without having 30 different dishes.
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I think that you have a good idea. You could have several groups making potato salad or a green salad. Have several make beans, etc.
In my development we had a block party like that years ago. Seems the organizers did ask what each person was bringing and how many it would serve. There was a charge per family and from that amount they bought meats for grilling, paper products, rented tents, etc.
I don't mean to seem negative, but I would not like being told exactly what to bring. Part of the fun for me is choosing and making something I think would be enjoyed.
I'm assuming there will be neighbors of all ages at the picnic. Even though it sounds good to me, when my kids were young they would not have touched baked beans, grilled veggies, etc.
If you think you'll have too much food, I'm sure some people would rather donate money for meat, buns, etc.
Thanks...lots of different viewpoints and all of them good. My thought was to send out a list of possible choices for side dishes and let each family decide what they want to do. We are fortunate that two of the neighbors always provide the meat for the event. I've already talked to a few people who love the idea of collaborating on the food. This will be a good test case for future neighborhood parties.
I'm the lucky one because all I have to do is provide the decorations!
We have a neighborhood party every year. It is held in the same family's yard and a month or so ahead the wife walks around the neighborhood and leaves an invitation in the mailbox.
There are 20 houses on my street and probably fewer than half on theirs, but they always include friends of theirs with their children.
Mostly the demographic is young families with a few of us oldsters thrown in.
No one is directed to bring anything special and for myself I like the food that the younger people bring as it has different ingredients than I would use. Last time DH baked his famous chocolate cake and boy did that disappear fast!
It sounds like you have more of a committee approach to your event.
But let me ask this. Won't you still need the same amount of food? How will having the menu restricted give you more table room? If you have a need for more table room, shouldn't you just add more tables?This message has been edited. Last edited by: lady of shallot,
I think that it's good to know what everyone is thinking about bringing. If a salad, potato, macaroni or green. Dessert. Side Dish. I don't think you have to dictate what people are doing, it's just good to know that you will have a variety and not everyone just bringing 1 or 2 things. We used to belong to a club that had a pot luck dinner each month--30-40 people--one month 4 guys, yes guys decided that each wanted to bring baked beans--we all laughed about it but you really wouldn't want to have too many people bringing the same dish, would you?
An excellent question! One of our neighbors used to own a catering company and she has several enormous serving bowls and platters. The thought was to refill them as needed. Since the party is at the end of our street, there are 4 houses very close by with refrigeration for things like potato salad, etc.
As the sign-up emails have been coming in, some families are going to collaborate on dishes and others are bringing desserts, beverages, chips, etc. So far we have a few volunteering to make the same green salad with different dressings offered, three others have signed up to make the same potato salad and two are bringing baked beans which we will keep warm on one of the large barbecues. I send an email out about twice a week so everyone can keep track of what is still needed.
One of the committee members is providing a bouncy house for the little kids and the local fire department is bringing two trucks. No, we don't anticipate any fires, they just come as a goodwill gesture for the community. They give fire fighter hats to the kids and each of them get to climb in the truck for a picture. There are usually 4-5 firefighters and of course they join us for dinner. This year the mayor will be in attendance too. Summertime in a small town...it doesn't get any better than that! Here is a picture of a few of the wee ones from last year.
What fun! I was sure that your neighbors would enjoy collaborating on their dishes.
How cute! I'm sure it will be fun for all.
Looks like a lot of fun!
Sharon, Great discussion topic and many good responses so far! I understand the dilemna of having 30 side dishes (with 15 of them being potato salad, for example) BUT I definitely would not like, for myself, being told to coordinate with someone else to combine my offering with his or her in advance of the event just to save a little table room.
Why? Because dh and I both have very busy schedules, attend a lot of events like this one (and enjoy all of them) but, many times, we don't even know what we will be bringing until the day of the event. To feel constrained to work with someone else - not sure who? (so as not to make an "extra" burden of one more side dish added to the table) would be ....
A bit insulting ~ sorry, but I don't have time to spend hours consulting with others to combine my dish with their dish prior to the party.
Perhaps a better idea might be to set out the dishes of the first arrivals first, store duplicates in the nearby refrigerators and replenish each type of dish as supplies run low. JMHO ~
Looks like a wonderful get-together for all ~ wishing you the best turn-out to date!
Thank you all for the great discussion! I went ahead and sent out the first email and suggested that if anyone was interested in collaborating, they would be welcome to, but that any and all contributions would be lovely. So far about half the people are going to "team up" and the rest are bringing their individual offerings. My goal has been to make the food part of this event as uncomplicated as possible and I think that will be the case.
We always have that too, and last time the host said now it's the adults turn, do you want to go in to my 78 year old husband who probably would not have liked that when he was 7!
Our town is little we have a volunteer fire service and a town council. No mayor, no important person (well I'm sure some think they are LOL)
It never failed with potluck dinners at church - if I did not bring cornbread sticks...no one brought bread of any sort. If I brought cornbread sticks...two or three other people brought another bread of some sort. LOL
An older couple at church - if she brought a loaf of store bought white bread, she ate it. But her husband would dig into my cornbread sticks.
Now...here's the (sad) funny part. The older man died one spring. My 1st husband died that fall. When I remarried - the older lady became my mother-in-law! When I told DH about the cornbread vs white bread story, he laughed and said it sounded just like his parents.
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the way our "neighborhood" picnic is done is by Alpha (A-D, E-H). Divided by "if your last name starts with..." you bring meat, salad, desert, side, beverage, etc...
Junk collector, what a great idea. I will keep that in my planning folder for next year.
Sherry, that's a very sweet story. Isn't life interesting? You never know when people who cross your path will become an important part of your life someday.
I don't know that I'd appreciate being told to bring something I've never made or am not good at making based on my last name!
Our church group has used this method and it always seems to work out. I have a dear friend who loves to bake and I do not. When our last names end up on the list for something we don't want to make, she and I trade and no one has ever complained. It could have something to do with her incredible apple pies.
So long as trading off is allowed!!!!
Your name simply indicates a "category" of what to bring. If you are assigned a dessert it could be cake, pie, ice cream. Etc.....whatever you choose. The same holds true for a casserole...bring one that you like to make.
The alphabet way is always used at our church, and it produces a nice variety!
What we discovered a office potlucks and at church dinners - some people have specialties that they are affronted if they are not allowed to prepare. Heck with some people I know it is the only thing they know how to cook!
Fun and Info
Now, you see? I find the very idea of bringing an appetizer or a dessert unnerving, so if my last name put me in either category, I'd either go out a BUY something already prepared, try to trade off, or not go at all.
Well I guess what the comments show is that it's important to keep open the lines of communication and try to accommodate what people would like to bring. What's much worse is a group event where some people try to get around doing anything and refuse to contribute cash or buy something. We had a few families who felt that they were special and that doing the work was for other people. This attitude eventually ruined our block party. We had a NFL player in our development and this guy literally ran himself ragged carting around picnic tables to the site of the party, setting up tents, grilling food, etc. Then there was the high school teacher whose wife told everyone that she was too busy to bring a dish and her husband was so disappointed because there was no one there who could possibly discuss anything with him. It takes all kinds
just my 2 cents
i do not like being told what to bring, then i have to worry if i have the time to make it or get it or money to buy it the day it's due.
it would get boring seeing/ tasting the same kind of food each year
if u r going to tell ppl what to bring or what not to bring then do a catering
what u could do is take suggestions if some want to go together and make stuff fine then with invites put a note in these items are already being taken care of that way if somebody like me then we can bring what we want or what we can do
for your eyes only kinda keep track of the odd stuff coming in and see if the ppl have a pattern like my mom no fail she use to always bring baked beans to everything for me it gave me a chance to try new things and get ppl advices then u kinda know whats brought or if they r interested in going together making stuff
and if u tell ppl what to bring then if they don't come u r out like our family picnic in june they tell us what to bring somebody got watermelon they never showed up so no watermelon another person was to bring non choc desserts no show no desserts for kids can't eat choc watching others eat desserts was no fun
i basicly make the main things r there then let odd stuff brought or last minute ppl say what do u need then let them bring it
also on invites u could say for ideas please call........
I just wanted to stop in and say thank you to everyone for your input. We had the perfect amount and variety of food, everyone had a great time, and whew....am I glad it's over!
Here are a few snapshots of the day.
Sharon W it looks like everyone enjoyed themselves, most importantly, this created a memory... when everyone looks back on this, especially the children, they aren't going to remember the food they ate, more importantly it will be the memories that were made!
Sharon, I hope you weren't too exhausted to enjoy yourself. It looks like it was a great party!
I looks like a perfect day!
Sharon, Just wanted to say that congratulations doesn't even begin to cover the respect you are due for organizing the food aspect of your neighborhood event much less the kudos you get for being willing to hear different ideas ~ major congrats here for a successful event...
Lots of good ideas have been posted and I think they will work well next year ~ but, for now, enough to say, Job well done....
Congratulations on a job well done. If the variety and amount of food was what you wanted, then you must have done everything right!!!!
Congratulations on a successful event and glad the food portion went well. Now you know what to do for next year!
Thanks for posting the pics!
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Thank you all for your kind words and your encouragement during the planning process! It was a good way to gauge everyone's reaction to the idea, and I don't think I would do it any differently in the future.
And yes, the memories are the best part! We have a few new families in the neighborhood and it was so much fun to watch the children get acquainted. One family has a little boy (an only child) and he now knows four other boys his age that will be in his class next fall. Now he won't feel like "the new kid" on the first day of school. Several of the little girls decided to collaborate on a 4th of July float for the local kids parade. I guess they just had a blast with the planning, picking out what to wear and participating in the parade. It makes me smile to think about the friendships that are forged with a community activity like this.
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