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5 Things You Can Do to Cheer Up Your Neighbors

A chalk drawing of a bright yellow sun on pavement.

There’s one thing for certain here: we’re all going stir crazy! Chances are, your neighbors are bored, too. What can you do? We suggest brightening up your neighborhood with these five easy activities.

When your life is confined to your living room, kitchen, and back porch, you start to feel desperate for anything different. Even though you can’t mingle with your neighbors or have a block party with the kids right now, here are some fun things you can do.

All of these activities can be completed while maintaining proper social distancing rules (as long as you don’t invite the whole neighborhood to join in).

Color with Sidewalk Chalk

A little girl and boy sitting on the pavement next to some chalk drawings.
Jill Chafin

The great thing about sidewalk chalk is it’s nonpermanent. Rain or some water from the garden hose easily washes it away.

You can decorate your neighbor’s sidewalks, cul-de-sacs, or even their driveways. Just avoid high-touch areas, such as mailboxes, cars, and doors.

What should you draw? Start with whatever inspires you and your kiddos. Anything from hearts, smiley faces, geometrical shapes, and planets, to inspiring messages or just the alphabet would be good.

If you know your neighbors’ names, write them a personal greeting—it might really brighten their day.

You can even draw out some fun games, like hopscotch or the outdoor version of Chutes and Ladders. Draw them someplace the neighborhood kids can take turns playing.

Put Up Holiday Decorations

A living room with a window decorated with candles and Christmas lights.
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Some towns have put up holiday decorations during the COVID-19 quarantine in an attempt to keep positivity alive in their communities.

There’s no reason why you can’t do the same. Hang some string lights or set out a full-sized Santa or some spooky Halloween ghosts. The idea is to channel your boredom and restlessness into decorating. It will also give your neighbors some eye candy to break up the monotony.

You can also follow the long tradition of placing a candle in your window. Practiced since colonial times, this definitely evokes a feeling of warmth and love. If you don’t want to use real candles, there are plenty of beautiful electric options.

Hang Some Balloons

In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a woman spent almost $1,000 on 58 balloon bouquets she used to decorate her entire neighborhood. Not only was she supporting a local business, but she was also spreading joy during a difficult time.

You don’t have to go quite that far, but you can order balloons from any local store. String them up on fences, lamp posts, benches, trees, or any other low-touch area. Make sure you secure them tightly, so their positive effect will last for days.

If you want to add a personal touch, write some uplifting messages on them. Seeing simple words like “smile” or “happy” might be enough to transform someone’s day.

Go on a Teddy Bear Hunt

A teddy bear in a window.

The great teddy bear hunt is spreading faster than any virus! It’s bringing smiles to children’s and adult’s faces around the globe.

What’s it all about? Well, you and your neighbors place a teddy bear (or any stuffed animal) in a window or somewhere visible. Then, people try to “find” them during their next walk. It doesn’t have to happen at a specific time. It just allows people to enjoy an activity while keeping their distance from each other.

It’s said this was inspired by the children’s book, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen.

Try to coordinate with your neighbors on Facebook or any other online platform your community uses.

Wear a Costume Outside

Why not decorate yourself for your daily walk, too? If you have any cool, awesome, or scary costumes collecting dust, bust them out!

Then, you can have as much fun on your walk as this human-size dinosaur.

If you feel self-conscious about dressing up, just think about the smiles it’ll bring. Plus, crazier things are happening, like this boss who accidentally turned herself into a potato during an online work meeting. So, who cares if someone takes a photo of you hopping down the street wearing ridiculous bunny ears?

We suggest you bring along a bike horn or a pot and pan. Make some noise and draw as much attention to yourself as possible. The whole point is to get people to notice and take pictures.

Also, if you have babies, toddlers, or willing children, go ahead and dress them up in cute costumes, too. Seeing small children completely oblivious to the turmoil and stress of the world will melt everyone’s hearts.

While we’re all physically distancing from each other, it can be incredibly uplifting to receive a thoughtful gift from a neighbor. Whether it’s a chalk drawing, a balloon, or a teddy bear, the attempt to spread some joy is all that matters.

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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