Tonight is National Night Out, an annual event held on the first Tuesday in August. National Night Out is a national community-building campaign designed to encourage police-community partnerships. It’s also an outstanding opportunity to get out and meet your neighbors.

If you’re neighborhood hasn’t organized events for the evening you can still do an impromptu get-together with neighbors. Sit out on the stoop, curb of the cul-de-sac, or community club house and introduce yourself to other residents.

Make a note to plan next year’s National Night Out in as early as May.

If you’re community has plans for tonight’s event then consider yourself lucky to live in a community that values neighbors getting to know each other.

Studies have shown that communities where neighbors know each other are safer.

In the age of the internet, block parties and National Night Out are more important than ever. We need more community now, not less.

It might be too late to throw something together for this evening, but here’s how you can plan next year’s National Night Out.

Plan Your National Night Out Gathering

Host a Block Party

The best way to celebrate NNO is to host a block party! Block is arbitrary – it can be for your street, cut-de-sac or neighborhood development. You can download this NNO template and pass it out to your neighbors. National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday in August, but if holding a party in the middle of the week doesn’t work for you it’s okay to host the block party on the weekend.

Delegate

Planning a National Night Out gathering isn’t difficult, but it does take organizational skills and there’s some footwork involved. Gather some close neighbors and start delegating the work. Put someone in charge of food, beverages and entertainment.

Invitations

Unless you’ve held a NNO before, you probably don’t have everyone’s email address or phone number. To let everyone know about the event you’ll need to create some form of flyer or invitation and delivering to each resident’s home. This is a great opportunity to meet new neighbors ahead of the event. Include info about the event, date, time and a contact number for those who want to contribute food, beverages or fun things for the kids.

Choose a Date

National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday in August, but that doesn’t mean you have to have it that night. If a weekend works better for your neighbors, by all means have it on the weekend. Have a backup date in case of bad weather.

Promotional Considerations

Across the nation, many businesses will provide meat for grilling, entertainment and other items to the neighborhood event. For instance a local real estate company is providing meat to any block parties that sign up. The ask that their business name be included on any flyers and that they can swing by the event and introduce themselves. Check your neighborhood Facebook page or NextDoor page to see if any businesses in your area are offering anything.

Sign Up Sheet

Be sure to have a signup sheet at the event. This is a great way to capture everyone’s email address and/or phone numbers.

Neighborhood Page

Another great way to keep in touch before the event and after is to create a Facebook page for your block or neighborhood, or a NextDoor page. You can put the web address on the flyer and have people sign up for the page and RSVP if needed. It’s also a great way to communicate who is bringing what for the potluck.

Encourage Networking

You may have a neighbor who provides the exact service you’ve been looking for. Find out what people do and let them promote their businesses.

A Few Things to Consider

You may want to have a bathroom policy of “everyone uses their own bathroom” to maintain home security. Encourage children to help clean up by providing a prize for those who help. Provide name tags.

Having a block party is a great way to meet new neighbors and keep in touch with old friends. As home builders in the communities of White Bear Lake, Hugo, Woodbury and Lake Elmo, we see each day how strong communities are formed by the simple act of getting to know one another.