There are many ways that you can make a difference in your neighborhood. This weekend provide a helping hand to those in your community. Some simple ways you can help your neighbors include carrying in groceries, taking out the trash, shoveling snow, sweeping the walkways, picking up litter, and mowing the lawn.
Identify specific individuals and families in your neighborhood that could use some extra assistance or attention. Offer to tend your neighbor’s children so they can go out for the evening, invite the elderly or single adults to join your family for dinner, participate in a sub-for-Santa, or leave anonymous gifts on your neighbor’s doorsteps.
Donate or volunteer at your local food banks or soup kitchens. Help wrap and deliver gifts for needy children and military families. Improving your community doesn’t have to take a lot of time or money – it just takes action.
So take action today and provide a helping hand in your neighborhood.
– Carolyn Flynn
Flickr photo by Saucy Salad/Rebecca Wilson
Share how you have helped your neighbors or your neighbors have helped you in the comments below.
Hosting a cookie party is a fun and simple way to celebrate the winter holiday season and give back to the members of your community. You don’t have to have children or be a great cook to do it!
First, decide who you would like to invite. You can invite the neighborhood children or make it a family event and invite the entire family to come over for the holiday festivities. Saturday morning from 10:00 AM – 12:00 noon is often a great time to host a children’s cookie party. If you decide to make it a family event, you might consider making it a potluck dinner followed by games and frosting cookies.
Social media is great way to notify neighborhood families of your holiday party plans. Create a Facebook event for your cookie party. This is a great way to invite your friends and neighbors and get an online RSVP of approximately how many might attend. The Facebook event also allows for guests to comment, ask questions, volunteer to help, and exchange ideas or recipes.
A Google search will let you know of local bakeries near you and places where you can get inexpensive party supplies such as decorations, plates, and cookie sprinkles. Make your cookies and frosting a day or two before the party or order the cookies a week in advance. Plan on four cookies per child for a children’s party or one cookie per person for a family party when estimating how many cookies to purchase.
For a children’s party, stick with four cookie shapes to avoid children fighting over not getting the same cookies and to make setting up easier. You can also ask each family to bring a dozen unfrosted sugar cookies with them to the party to get more families involved in the party process.
Notify families in your neighborhood of your cookie party by mailing invitations, taking flyers to their home, calling, texting from your iPhone, Droid, or Blackberry, or posting notices on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social media resources. There are many ways to get the word out so use all of your communication resources to spread the word and get people excited about your party.
The morning of the party set up tables and lay out tablecloths anywhere that children may be sitting. Place a plate of four unfrosted cookies at each table setting. Make green, red, yellow, and blue frosting using food coloring and white frosting. Scoop a large tablespoon of each of the four colors plus white on a small paper plate or paper bowl for each child with a plastic spoon for frosting (avoid plastic knives as they are likely to get licked). In a snack baggie give each child some small goodies such as gum drops, M&M’s, and Skittles to decorate their cookies. Place sprinkle containers randomly across the tablecloths. Now that each child has their cookies and decorating supplies you are ready for the guests to come over.
A short Christmas cartoon is good entertainment to keep children occupied until all expected guests have arrived. When the children are seated it is a good idea to label each plate with the child’s name. You can label the plates before they arrive if you want to assign seating. This is good for identifying who the cookies belong to when it is time to go home or if the child leaves their seat. This also helps to avoid children fighting over misidentified cookies.
Because you have divided up the decorating tools at the beginning, the kids are free to be creative without a lot of arguing and mess over frosting and goodies. As the kids are finishing up their cookies put their cookie creations into labeled Ziploc baggies for them to take home. Then toss the used frosting plate in the garbage and invite the kids to watch a Christmas movie. Two hours is usually plenty of time for the children to have a fun party and for parents to get a break or complete some holiday shopping.
Clean up is easy as the kids take the cookies home, and all you have to do is wipe down the tablecloths, vacuum, and put away sprinkles.
Success! You have shared the holiday spirit with your neighbors and friends in a fun and creative way.
– Carolyn Flynn
Flickr photo by timstock_nyc/Tim Stock
Share how you build relationships and celebrate the holidays in the comments below.