As communities and parents looks for inexpensive ways to entertain the children – and the adults – our community has grabbed on to one concept that is working really well – family night.
Each month we get together at the community clubhouse, eat food, watch the kids play, and talk and unwind after a long week at work.
The children are generally entertained first by playing with each other, then by eating, and lastly by some type of ‘event.’ Last month we had a magician on hand who stunned the crowd with his tricks; this week the kids learned how to putt a golf ball on the putting green in our community.
The event has been a huge success. For the children, it is a fun time to hang out with friends they may not see all the time. They play, run around like crazy, and enjoy themselves until they drop.
The adults actually have some time to sit down, chat with friends, and laugh and unwind.
If your community does not offer family night, it’s really not that difficult of an event to organize and execute. Family nights offer:
- an inexpensive way to meet up with friends
- a great way to get to know your neighbors – which in turn strengthens your community
- a place for kids to meet new friends and have a good time
- a place for parents to enjoy some adult conversation
We’re lucky because our community has a club house, which makes the event much easier to host. We purchase foods – hamburgers, sandwiches, grilled cheeses – and can choose from sodas and wanter to beer or wine. The tables are already there, so we just need to show up, pick a seat, and sit.
Even if your community does not have a clubhouse, a variety of options for organizing a family night on a cheap budget exist:
- find a neighborhood restaurant that’s interested in participating – especially if they offer a banquet room
- head to a nearby park with a picnic dinner
- pick a place around the community – the bowling alley, an indoor play area, the skating rink – to host a get together
- choose someone’s backyard (though this may only work when the party is small)
Once the venue is set, think about entertainment. If you are at a clubhouse or restaurant you might be able to hire someone to come in and entertain the kids. Or, one of the community members might be an entertainer interested in putting on a show (it’s great publicity for them!) Think about magicians, clowns, musicians, or those involved with sports such as karate or gymnastics that can teach a skill.
If you are holding the event in the park, consider gathering together a lot of outdoor sports equipment – footballs, frisbees, bats and gloves – and holding a community game of sorts.
Through our family nights we’ve been able to meet the majority of our neighbors that have kids. Our children have made new friends, and when we’ve taken after dinner walks or headed to the community pool we’ve run into the other families we’ve met. Family night for us has not only become a good time we look forward to each month, but a great way to build a strong, tight knit community.