Parties are great ways to get to know your neighbors, especially if you do a "favorite things party."

This idea can be used with small or large groups (including neighbors) and lets you know more about someone, according to David Burton, community development specialist with University of Missouri Extension.

"Around our house, we call this a favorite things party. It is easy to plan, and if you do this with neighbors, it is the perfect way to get to know people better," said Burton. "You can invite many people (or just a few) with little work or stress. It’s a fun party because everyone gets involved and interacts. Everyone goes home with a few new gifts!"

For this party, everyone brings identical gifts with one or more of their favorite things. If you have a large party, you bring two gifts. If it is a smaller group, have guests bring the quantity needed for every guest.

If you have a large party, have all the guests at the party put their name in a bowl two times, and then each person shares their favorite thing, in turn, draws two names from the bowl, and gives their two gifts to those people.

"My wife does smaller neighbor groups, normally with eight women. Each attendee brings enough of their same favorite things gift for everyone (eight women)," said Burton.

A few thoughts about the budget for gifts: Do what’s best for your circle of friends and your budget. If only bringing two gifts, then setting a $20 per gift minimum is a good idea.

With larger groups, you may need to set a smaller budget. You could do $5 per gift, but it’s hard for people to come up with things they love that are under $5. You get a lot of chapstick and nail polish or chocolate bars.

Setting the budget a little higher allows people to bring things they use and love.

Send the invitations enough in advance to give people time to find their favorite things.

What to put on the invitation for the Favorite Things Party?

Send out the rules for the night in the invitation so that expectations are set, and everyone is on the same page.

The invitation should include the minimum budget for gifts and the number needed. Explain that you must bring a gift to exchange with others and return home with gifts.

If you have a smaller number attending and want everyone to get a gift, you can specify the number of gifts needed.

For larger parties, have a bowl and slips of paper ready when folks arrive. Everyone will put their name into the bowl two times. Your name only goes in if you bring gifts.

Arrange chairs in a circle so everyone can see each other.

"Wrapping gifts is optional. But, most people put them in gift bags, so they were easy to take out and show, and people still felt like they were taking home a special gift," said Burton.


Neighboring is the art and skill of building relationships with the people who live in the closest proximity to you. Being a good neighbor offers tremendous health benefits, leads to reductions in crime, reduces loneliness, improves communities, and improves your quality of life.

University of Missouri Extension is at the forefront of a national movement that recognizes the importance of neighboring in community development. MU Extension is offering classes like "Neighboring 101" and "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" along with three annual neighboring events as a way to raise awareness and encourage others to focus on neighbors.

To learn more about our "Engaged Neighbor" program or the impact of neighboring, go online to or contact David Burton by email or telephone at (417) 881-8909. "Becoming an Engaged Neighbor" can also be found on Facebook.


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