Here’s a chance for neighbors to get to know each other through a unique food experience.

Host an ultimate tasting party: cheese for some, bread for others, chocolate for another. Have all three food elements and more if you like. This party is great for medium-sized groups; invite singles, families, and couples in your neighborhood.

The key to this activity is to have each person or household bring something different. Try to have at least three different kinds of each food category; the more diversity, the better.

A long table or several small tables are essential, so you can lay everything out. Nobody needs to cook; all you need is plates and utensils. Be sure to provide a variety of beverages, such as lemonade, iced tea, soft drinks, and coffee.

As a fun addition to the party, make a list of all the different types and categories of food, so people can rank the items as they try them. That way, everyone will go home with an idea of what they enjoy the most.

Helpful hint: These days, finding good cheese is relatively easy, thanks to specialty sections at the supermarket; however, you may need to try your local kitchen shop for exotic chocolates. Hunt your bakeries for interesting breads, aiming for variety of texture, not just taste. Once you have the ranking results of the tasting, you can applaud the most popular varieties of the evening. Or, you might have a blind taste test to see if people can tell the difference between brands and types of cheese, bread, and chocolate.

Instant Intentions

A great way to follow up on this party is to pay attention to your neighbors’ favorites. Then, when they’re not expecting it, surprise each person or household with an individualized gift. They’ll know you were paying attention, and they’ll appreciate your thoughtfulness.

-          From the book, Field Guide to Neighborhood Outreach by Group Publishing, 2007.