10 Creative Ways to Build Community in College
It's been 10 years since I've graduated college!! (gasp!!) While in college at UC Davis, I lived with five other girls who became like family to me. I'd never experienced anything like the friendship we shared. Our apartment was always bubbling with activity and so much laughter. But truly, there was a foundation of intentionality. These girls lived and breathed community, pouring out, investing in one another, and inviting others into fellowship.
Just a few weeks ago, four out of my five roommates came to visit. We reminisced, threw a dress-up party, ate good food, had a book exchange, caught each other up on life, and laughed…a lot. It got me thinking about how many intentional ways we grew our friendships in college, and I thought I'd share a few ideas in case you are looking for creative ways to deepen community.
1. Family Dinners
We had family dinners three times a week, which meant that each girl was assigned to a night every other week. Many times, we would invite outside friends to join in our family dinners, and they always walked away saying how much fun they had. Community is truly built around the table, and we had so many hilarious evening talking and swapping stories from our college lives!
In addition, sometimes we'd spice things up and add a theme to our dinner. Just as a few examples, one dinner was a German theme, where my roommate had polka music playing, name tags for each of us with German names (mine was Marta!), and a delicious plate of German food. She even taught us a few words in German. Another time we had a Greek/Roman Empire party, and all wore togas and sat on the floor and ate Mediterranean food. I think one of my roomies turned a glass vase into a pitcher and poured grape juice in it!
2. Dress-up parties
We didn't just have parties, we had dress-up parties! (Which is kind of a theme in my life. See my dress-up birthday parties here, here and here!). We threw a big decades party and had plenty of prizes for best dressed, etc! Some of the prizes included pictures of my roommates and me dressed up in weird costumes, haha…weren't they lucky winners? We hosted a blue and gold themed party when we graduated…and the list goes on!
3. Secret Santas
At Christmas, we all drew names and gave each other secret santa gifts all December. It culminated in one night where we all went out to dinner, gave each other the last of the gifts, revealed the secret santas, and then came home and all watched White Christmas. Because we all lived together a few years, it was able to become a tradition we all looked forward to. I won't even attempt to explain the one year that two of the girls pretended to be guys and gave their secret santas a "date"….ha!
4. Roommate Get-Aways.
A few times in the years we lived together, we took a weekend to get-away. One year we all went to San Francisco and stayed with a friend. Another year we went to Tahoe and stayed with one of my roommate's Grandpa (who did cowboy poetry, which was hilarious). Another year we just took a weekend to stay at one of my roommates parents' house, which concluded with us getting dressed up in crazy clothes and going to see a movie.
5. Family Meetings
Every Sunday night, we had a "family" meeting. It was a wonderful way to connect with everyone before the week started. We discussed things that needed attention around the house (i.e.: DISHES…which was always an issue, haha!) and then would encourage one another, pray for each other, and just hang out.
6. Prayer Jar
We had this huge glass jar in our living room. Whenever anyone came to visit our house, we would make them write their name on a piece of paper and put it in the glass jar. Each week at our family meetings, we would pull a few names out of the jar and pray for those people.
7. Quote Board
We had a HUGE strip of butcher paper going up our staircase that we would write hilarious quotes on. To this day, we still quote each other and break down crying with laughter. Good times!
8. Chore Chart
I know, I know…this one sounds weird, but it actually did bring us closer. Having some structure in our home was great. We all took turns rotating through different chores. Under each chore, there were like 4-5 items that had to be checked by the end of the week. For each box left unchecked, we would have to pay a dollar. At the end of each semester, we would donate that money to a good cause (agreed upon by everyone in the family meeting).
9. Sisterhood of the traveling pants journal
In the summers, when we were all in our hometowns and away from each other, we would mail a journal with a mini pair of jeans stapled to the front. In the journal, we would write an update on what we had been up to and how we were doing. We would send it to one person with a gift for them. Then they would write in it, and send it to the next person with a gift for them. It was so much fun receiving the journal and the gift!!
10. Greeting one another
This one may sound small, but everyone was so good at greeting each other when they walked through the door. Looking up and smiling, saying hello, and being genuinely interested in others. I think this is sometimes a lost art!!
I am grateful God gave me these five women to share life with. Since our college days, we have made it a point to have many reunions, which always involve lots of dressing up, sharing stories, swapping books, and speaking life to one another. I hope you were encouraged to deepen your community in some small ways today!