people placing food items on a grill

The Thrill of the Grill: Planning a BBQ to Meet the Neighbors

Summer is in full swing and now that things are starting to resume some level of normalcy, what better time to connect with your neighbors. Whether you have just moved to a new community, or you are a longtime fixture in your current area, planning a barbeque or cookout is the perfect way to get to know those people living nearby. 

So what does it take to pull off an event like this? Probably a lot less than you think. 


First, decide on a date, a time, and a location. If you aren’t feeling prepared enough to host this at your home, many neighborhood community centers have grilling areas and covered picnic tables for uses such as this. 

Guest List

Once your event has been planned, it’s time to decide on a guest list. Will you make an open call to the entire neighborhood on your neighborhood Facebook group page or the NextDoor app? Or will you keep it small to just a few families? Will this be an adults-only event or one where you plan to include children?


With a good idea of how many people your event will include, it’s time to figure out a menu and decide who will bring what. If the gathering is smallish, perhaps you will provide all of the food. If it’s larger or you would prefer a potluck approach, simply decide what categories you want your guests to fill. 

Ideas include: BYOM and BYOB (Bring Your Own Meat [for the grill] and Bring Your Own Beverages) are one way to ensure that everyone is contributing some of their preferred items. Or you could ask others to contribute specific salads, side items, or desserts. Anything goes, but as the party coordinator, have this idea nailed down before you reach out to your guests. This way, there is enough food and drink to go around. 


After the event details have been secured, it might be a good idea to decide what, if any, entertainment will need to be included for your barbeque. Is there a pool or sprinkler nearby to keep guests cool? Will you have any music playing in the background? Spotify has some great summer playlists or you can even create your own. If young children will be around, consider some fun outdoor toys to keep them entertained. 

Maybe just thinking about all of these details feels overwhelming when it’s so hot outside or you’re still settling in at home. However, consider the small investment of time and energy and the payoff of getting to know your neighbors. Coming out of a time when the world has been so separated and isolated, it just might be the fix you need to put yourself out there and begin to connect again by building small but significant bridges with the people who live nearby. 

What’s the big deal in knowing your neighbors well? 

It turns out the benefits are many. Knowing your neighbors instantly gives you someone nearby who may be able to help you out in an emergency, or when you need a hand; knowing your neighbors may increase your comfort and feelings of safety; knowing your neighbors might just extend your list of babysitters or pet-sitters; knowing your neighbors (and liking them) can generally add to your overall happiness at home and in your immediate surroundings. 

Who knew that all of that good stuff could come from a simple gathering of friends to grill burgers or share a cold drink?