Stone Soup for Five: The Neighbor Project--Working Out the Kinks

The Neighbor Project--Working Out the Kinks

As I've mentioned a few times, I'm currently reading Amy Lively's How to Love Your Neighbor Without Being Weird.

So, we're on a mission to make full use of this spring and summer and have our neighbors over for a meal and start getting to know them better.  But with our small house, it all has to be done outside in our big backyard.  Which means we need to figure out how this all is going to work in actual practice, rather than winging it, as I usually do.

So who better to test it out on than family?

So Corey built a table (modified from the plans of course, because we're us.) and we invited all of our extended family over and served a potluck taco dinner on the too tall, un-sanded table... that we had to assemble with super long 3" nails, because the battery on the screwdriver died and we had an hour before everyone got here.  (On a side note, I found out that one of my strengths is ACTIVATOR, which means, when I have an idea that I know we need to do, we're already automatically behind schedule and we've got to get started NOW and finish FAST because NOW!  Which makes my perfectionist husband, Mr. Measure, slightly CrAzY.)

We set the table with sturdy disposable plates, a mason wide mouth pint jar, and plastic silverware.  But I think I'm going to drive up to Ikea and get some inexpensive real plates and keep them for this occasion... not sure if we'll stick with plastic silverware or if Ikea will have a great deal on the real thing.

We made sun tea in half gallon mason jars and filled the Ikea corked glass bottles with water.  Everyone brought something for the taco feast, and we supplied the tortillas and seasoned taco meat.

I set the table, because I LOVE the pics of beautifully decorated tables before everyone sits down, but really, I don't know how to make that work in real life.  We had to go to the table, get the plate, then go back to get the meat, and the condiments and toppings, which were on the dinner table abd out of reach for some.  It was awkward and I was glad it was just family who are very forgiving.

So Corey and I talked afterward about what went well, what didn't, and what we'll try next time.  We think we'll try a stack of plates at a buffet table (read folding table covered with fabric) off to the side, and just have place settings with a glass jar, silverware and a napkin and maybe a butcher paper place mat.  We'll have 3-4 small dishes of condiments within easy reach and two tables... with a beverage station in the middle of them.

We'll do a couple more test runs, each time learning and tweaking, and let you know how it goes in preparation for the big day when we have the neighbors over.

Things to do:

-Buy these plates at Ikea

-Buy 4 more of these water bottles

-find or make a insulated ice bucket for beverage station (I'm thinking a smallish cooler because the real ice buckets are spendy!)

-figure out place settings... maybe a glass with a wide gift wrapping ribbon tied on it, that guests can write their name on, along with a placemat, napkin, and drinking jar and silverware.

-find white Christmas lights or similar and string them above the table.

-Plan an easy and inexpensive meal that I can prepare most of it ahead a time.  My friend suggested BBQ pulled pork or chicken, coleslaw and pasta salad. 

-always have plenty of ingredients for s'mores!


  1. Sounds great!! I'm curious, how was did it go pouring the tea out of those big jars? Without a spout, I'm afraid I would make a mess!

    1. It was fine, but my husband said the same thing that you feel... it was tricky and he was afraid of dumping it everywhere. Might have to re-think that one...

  2. I love the pic of your table. I also love the idea of this - maybe I'll talk with the hubster and see what he thinks.
    For your drinks, what about pre-pouring the drinks into the mason jars, put the lids on, then storing in a bucket (galvanized tub?) of ice? (Like this from Pinterest - or just search "Picnic drinks" on Pinterest) They could just pick up their own drinks from the ice bucket. Then have the drink station for refills. Just some thoughts. Can't wait to read your follow-ups.


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