Already thinking about National Night Out this year and wondering how your department can mix things up?
Depending on where you are located and the resources you have available, the activities will vary. But here are a few creative ideas for inspiration to get things going.
Check out these 10 activities to get your community involved and make it a great evening!
National Night Out Activities
- Photo Booth Contest
- Neighborhood Update
- Water Balloon Toss
- Face Painting
- Ladder Golf Tournament
- Chalk Gallery
- Scavenger Hunt
- Tug of war
- Food Bank Collection
- K9 Demonstration
1. Photo Booth Contest
Print out the following items:
- Local sports team mascots
- Beard/Mustache cut outs
- Speech bubble with a unique hashtag or request to follow department Facebook page
Cut out and tape the things you printed onto sticks (you can purchase bamboo skewers pretty cheap - (Walmart).
Set the props in a basket/box and use a wall for a back drop. Dress it up with a fun shower curtain or tape some streamers hanging down.
Make it a group contest by saying that if over XX amount of people take a silly photo, the officers in the department will take a silly one and post on their website/social pages.
2. Neighborhood Update
At one point in the evening, get everyone at the event in one area.
Have one person from your department give an update of what went on over the last year; accomplishments, big events, crime statistics, etc.
Keep it light-hearted and informative. Present any goals or requests for this year.
3. Water Balloon Toss
Now that they have extenders for filling up water balloons, it takes less than 60 seconds to fill 100 balloons. So why not hold a water balloon toss?
Emphasize that the balloons are just for the balloon toss. Small children won't be too happy if they're unexpectedly hit by a water balloon.
It's also important to have the rules on hand:
- Split players in two groups and give each pair one balloon.
- Line players up in 2 lines facing each other. They should be 3 feet apart to start.
- Each player with a balloon will toss it to their partner when directed by the organizer. If the partner catches the balloon successfully, each person will take one step backwards. The organizer will determine the amount of space so all pairs move back equal distance.
- If the balloon breaks when tossed, that pair is eliminated from the game. If the balloon falls but does not break, the pair is still qualified and may continue playing.
- Continue passing the balloon and taking steps back each time it is caught until there is only one pair left. The last pair standing are the winners.
4. Face Painting
You don't have to be an artist. Ask around the department and your community for volunteers. Basic symbols and words are the key:
- Smiley face
- Paw print
- Cat nose & whiskers
Have a board with them already painted on so those who are "less experienced" can look at a reference to copy from.
5. Ladder Golf Tournament
Ladder golf. KanJam. Washers. Cornhole. You name it. Whatever your backyard neighborhood game may be, create a tournament out of it!
Print out a bracket template, such as this, and create a simple tournament to create some competition.
6. Chalk Gallery
Have boxes of sidewalk chalk out for everyone to create their artwork.
As people walk by the next few days, they will be able to enjoy it as well.
You could even start some games with chalk like tic-tac-toe, hopscotch, or 4 square(if you have a playground ball).
7. Scavenger Hunt
What is more fun than a scavenger hunt?
Get brown paper bags, make a list of items in Word and print out a few copies for the event. First person back with a completed checklist wins!
Examples to add to your scavenger hunt may be:
- 3 Different leaf shapes
- 1 Pine cone
- 1 Stick
- 1 Acorn
- 2 Rocks
Adjust the items based on whats easily available in your area.
8. Tug of War
A good old fashion game of tug of war is always a great time. One of the local schools or gyms may be able to loan one to you instead of buying one. Or if you have a summer park program in your area, you may already have one available!
Split up into age groups or even out each side and have families do it together.
9. Food Bank Collection
Announce on the invites and posts that you will be collecting items for the food bank.
If people forget, they can always run home and grab something or you can have a box available to accept cash donations as well.
Set a goal and see how much your community can raise.
10. K9 Demonstration
People love dogs. So if you have a K9 unit willing to show off some tricks, it's sure to be a hit. Few people know what they're capable of on duty. Display your officer's hard work while informing and entertaining the public.
Don't forget to provide a few small snacks and drinks and ask people to bring food as well. Provide items such as:
- Hot Dogs
How to Get People There
Post on social media, hang door hangers or ask to mention on local news stations. Make sure to highlight the community events going on to get peoples' attention and get them involved.
Want to make sure you're optimizing your community outreach?
For helpful tips on building effective community outreach take a look at 5 Pitfalls to Avoid When Building Police Community Outreach Programs.