Entertaining - Parties and Events

How to Plan a Neighborhood Sip and Stroll – Christmas Edition

Every year many of us put so much effort into decorating our homes for Christmas. We stand back and admire our work and are so proud. The tree, the garlands, the floral arrangements and other Christmas vignettes are so beautiful to look at. And there may be some years where you put in a lot of hard work, but never get the opportunity to show off what you have created. Or maybe after all that hard work, you just want to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor amongst family and friends.

During this time, you also see your neighbors busy at their work, decking out the inside and outside of their homes. Everyone is busy busy busy. Then all of the sudden the neighborhood is all a glow! The homes are lit up with lights, Christmas lawn ornaments are placed in the front yards, wreaths are hung on doors, the garlands and bows are draped over fences, and you see Christmas trees in the windows of homes. It’s like a scene from a Hallmark movie! The scenery is so beautiful and festive, but does the neighborhood ever gather to celebrate it all?

A friend of mine once told me that her neighbors have party on her street for New Year’s Eve where all the neighbors would travel from house to house to celebrate. I thought it sounded so fun!

This got me thinking…. During the holidays, it is pretty common to take part in events like Christmas tree tours, holiday strolls, tree lighting ceremonies, light displays, visiting Santa, etc. What if we used that same mindset in our neighborhood? An event to celebrate, gather, and admire the Christmas lights and decorations! A neighborhood Christmas tour of some sorts? Then the idea came to me! We should do a Neighborhood Sip and Stroll for Christmas!

I shared my idea with one of the neighbors on the street. She thought it was an excellent idea and agreed to help me plan it! We thought it was a great way to get to know the neighbors on the street and to also showcase our decorating and culinary skills!

Each home would be a station and would feature Christmas decor, appetizers, desserts, and signature cocktails! We got busy planning! And when the night came, we had a FANTASTIC time! We all agreed this is an awesome tradition, one we should do every year! We even started pondering the idea of a summer block party!

If you are considering an idea like this, below are the steps we took to planning our Neighborhood Sip and Stroll:

*First – Create a guest list of who you want to invite: Because this was our first year doing this, we limited the list to the neighbors we knew well, the ones we actually talk to and neighbors we thought would be interested in this event. I recommend discussing with a close neighbor or group of neighbors to come up with a consensus on the guest list.

*Second – Settle on a date/time: Be mindful of the holiday season and how busy people are in the month of December. People literally celebrate Christmas all month long! Weekend evenings are usually busy. Weekdays, like Monday through Thursday, people work, and kids are typically involved in sports and other after school activities. We settled on one of the first Friday evenings in December, after work, and a day that officially kicks off the weekend! You may want to put a feeler out to the neighbors first to gage when a good date and time would be. This type of event could even be planned for New Year’s Eve, 4th of July, or any other holiday or season.

*Third – Invitations: This could be word of mouth/door to door visits/phone calls, a group text message, paper invitations, or a virtual invitation (Facebook, Evite or Punchbowl). Consider the guest list when creating invitations. If you know the people on your list to be savvy with technology, text often and are known to use social media, then a group text message or virtual method should do the trick. If you believe a text message or virtual method may not get everyone’s attention, then paper invitations or word of mouth may be more appropriate. You be the judge here.

Also, be sure to allow sufficient time for the RVSP deadline. We gave three weeks’ notice to allow potential participants to think it over and plan accordingly.

We were not sure how tech savvy some of our guests were for our Sip and Stroll, so we used a combination of methods. I made an invitation using Evite (sample shown above) and sent it to everyone on the guest list, but I also sent out individual text messages to ensure everyone received and understood the virtual invitation.

*Tip: We also included FAQs in the invitation to ensure all those invited understood what the event was all about and to answer any questions in advance.

*See sample FAQs below*

*Is this a multi-home event? Yes, this event will take place at multiple homes on the street/or in the subdivision. Each home will be a station.

*What occurs at each station/home? Guests will visit each station/home to view the Christmas decor, sip on a signature cocktail and enjoy some appetizers and desserts. And of course, mingle with all the neighbors!

*Can I just attend and not have anyone in my home? Yes, absolutely! You may attend and not have your home be a station.

*What if I want to participate, but I do not want people in my house? That’s perfectly fine. You may host wherever you feel comfortable. This could be in your garage, on your patio, in your yard, etc. Weather permitting of course. Or you may just attend as a guest, per the above.

*Are kids welcome? This event is for adults only, but each station/home may have their own children at their home, but children cannot visit other stations/homes. (We chose an adult only event, but you can do as you wish here)

*Fourth – Organize the event: Once the RSVPs come in, it is time to organize and plan for the event. The number of stations/homes participating will dictate the time spent at each station/home. For example, if you have four participants, you could do 45-60 minutes per location. It is all dependent upon how long you want the event to be. Be sure to allow enough time at each location so guests do not feel rushed and can enjoy the conversations, goodies, drinks and decor at each station/home.

You will also need to come up with an itinerary to determine which station/home will be first, last, and in what order. Because guests will be walking door to door, it makes sense to have the stations/homes be sequential to avoid walking in a nonsensical pattern.

In addition to scheduling the time allotted at each station/home and creating an itinerary, a sign-up list for appetizers, drinks and desserts is beneficial to avoid duplicates. Imagine everyone on street chooses to serve a cheese platter? That would be a lot of cheese! Ha ha.

We used SignUpGenius as a method to ensure the drink and food menus varied at each station/home. What I said in step three about knowing your crowd pertains here too. SignUpGenius is virtual, so I also sent text messages individually to coordinate the menu items. You could also have a physical signup sheet at someone’s home or use a group text.

*Fifth: Prep for the event: Prepping for the event involves the same steps you would take when hosting any party or event in your home. Cooking, baking, cleaning, organizing, setting up tables and chairs, creating a buffet table, designating a coat area, making room in your refrigerator, etc. All things people typically do beforehand.

This is all pretty self-explanatory, but with this type of event in particular, be mindful that all guests and hosts travel from house to house. Therefore, it is important to make it easy on yourself. Meaning, choosing appetizers, desserts and drinks, that are not too involved. For example, you don’t want to have to leave one station/home to fire up your grill or pop something in the oven. Items served cold or room temperature are ideal, or you can even have a crockpot appetizer to keep food items warm! Make it easy on yourself so you can enjoy the event.

We served rum smoked salmon, a charcuterie board and a dessert platter. The salmon and charcuterie board were to be served cold, so we plated everything up in advance and placed our items in the refrigerator. The dessert platter consisted of room temperature goodies, therefore I set up everything up before the event even started. Once it was our turn, it was easy because the desserts were already set up and the appetizers were literally just taken out of the refrigerator and served. If you are the first house, you have an advantage. This is because you could serve items that require more work to prepare because you would have time before the event starts. It all depends on the order sequence.

Sixth: Have blast! Sit back and enjoy yourself! Admire all the beautiful decorations, eat some delicious food, sip on a signature cocktail and most importantly, mingle with the neighbors. This is such a great opportunity to connect with others, meet new people and ultimately create a community. Take pictures!!

Go forth and start a new tradition!!! 🙂


Below are some links to items we used for our Sip & Stroll:

(6) Comments

  1. gorgeous photos!

    1. Thanks! Photos were fun to take! Food was great to eat LOL. Merry Christmas!

  2. I love this idea. Great post!

    1. Thank you! Happy Holidays to you and your family.

  3. This is such a fun idea and a great way to get to know the neighbors! Those images make my mouth water!

    1. Yes, it was very fun! The food was delicious, already looking forward to the next one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *