My favorite kind of gathering to throw this time of year is a Soup Night. Soup makes the perfect meal for a casual crowd -- it requires little fuss, it can be made well in advance, and neighbors can ladle it up themselves.
We plan it for a weekend, usually a Sunday evening. We invite everyone on the street, and we say that the party will be from 4-7pm so that people can show up whenever they want during that time. Guests tend to arrive and leave in waves, grabbing a bowl of soup or two and then moving on with their evening.
Here are a few other tips to help you organize your very own soup party.
Find a partner-in-crime. Recruit a neighbor or friend to help you plan and prepare.
Set a date. You will want to give people 1 to 2 weeks notice. Weekends usually work best.
Distribute invitations. Hand them out personally or leave them at the door. Invite everyone!
On the day, set it up buffet-style. Let guests serve themselves in the kitchen. Leave the pot on the stove over super-low heat or use your slow cooker on its low setting. Use disposable bowls—just make sure they are strong enough to hold hot soup, and set out spoons and napkins in a cup next to the bowls so people can grab them easily.
Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup on a cold day. And you can build friendships one ladle at a time! You can pick up a stacks of 10 “Soup Night” invitations at the Next Step Center. And for some inspiration and recipes, I recommend this book: Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup bit.ly/SoupNight