My husband and I have opened our home to neighbours for a soup event every December for the past twelve years. As a result I know 100 of my neighbours by name and we have had many benefits from building community.
I love to encourage others to get to know their neighbours as we have done, and organising a soup event is one way to start. The reason I think knowing your neighbours is important is that if we ever have an emergency here in Victoria such as an earthquake, it will not be your Facebook friends you turn to but your neighbours. So the time to get to know them is now when things are going fine!
Here are 20 tips from our experience to help you make your own soup event successful.
- Have your house warm and tidy before people arrive. Play Christmas music
- Welcome everyone individually as they come in and offer them soup
- Introduce people to each other and encourage them to connect
- If your flyer says ‘children welcome’, parents will come and be grateful
- Hang out a bit with the kids, so their parents have a chance to chat and eat
- Make an attractive flyer on Christmas paper, with a photo of you and your house
- Hand deliver your invitation for best success –introduce yourself and give flyer
- Be clear people can pop in briefly for soup and leave, or stay and chat
- Make it easy for people to come – tell them they don’t have to bring anything
- Create a map of your street to help you remember names and where people live
- Make sure flyer has your contact info, start /end time and request to RSVP
- A 2 hour window works well, e.g. 11.30am – 1.30pm
- Put up a welcome sign on your front door. Make it easy to find
- Have name tags on a table as people come in, so they can wear a name badge
- Have a signup sheet available so people can add their contact information
- Buy or borrow at least 20 soup bowls in case a lot of people arrive at once
- Keep bowls washed up so there are enough clean bowls available.
- Make the soup the day before so the flavours can develop
- Have tomato soup available for children
- A good source of soup recipes is “Moosewood Restaurant Cooks For A Crowd”
Grace Gerry is a registered counsellor with a private practice in Victoria, and works with individuals, couples and those interested in weight loss. Grace has more than 30 years experience, her business is called Graceful Solutions, and she comes from Ireland.