Community events can be a great way to attract new residents, and retain current renters as well. 

Residents who have friends living in the same community are much more likely to renew their leases, said Stefanie Balsis of Farmington Hills, Mich.-based Village Green Holdings. But finding the right event, one that will engage your community and foster those relationships, is a task most property managers deal with by trial and error.

We talked to property managers nationwide about what the most successful community building initiatives are. Here’s what they came up with:

Food Truck Fair: The Blairs community, located in Silver Spring, Md., hosted a food truck fair in March that was open to the local community as well as residents, said Molly King, Lifestyles program director at The Blairs. The fair featured five local food trucks with an array of choices including cupcakes, macaroni and lobster.

Yappy Hour: Twice a year The Blairs hosts a pet-lover’s bonding event where furry friends are invited down to socialize while owners can meet. King said the pet-focused events bring out a great mix of residents. “Even people who don’t have dogs come and live vicariously through these pet owners,” King said.

Happy Hour: While happy hours have been widely popular events, a Village Green property in Minneapolis put a twist on the usual after-hours drinking event. The staff at the Eitel Building put together a progressive happy hour where drinks and hors d'oeuvres were served in five different units on the property. Each unit had a different theme for food and drinks and residents could wander through each one collecting stamps on a game board to qualify for prizes along the way.

Splash Day: Village Green also hosts a charity fundraiser that brings residents out in droves raising thousands of dollars for the Ronald McDonald House, Balsis said. As regional marketing director, she likes to watch residents come out to support charity initiatives while still having fun. “We fill our outdoor pools in April,” she said. “They’re filled with cold water.” Residents donate money in order to dare staff members to jump into the cold pools. Last year, the Minneapolis region of Village Green raised about $4,000.

Summer Barbecue: While modern updates to old-time events have proved to be successful, sometimes it’s just best to stick to the basics. Atlanta-based Gables Residential said the annual summer cookout is the most successful resident gathering in one their Texas communities. The event is held at the 7th floor pool and includes a disc jockey and games as well as food and drinks. This year’s event will mark the fifth party for the staff at the West Ave. community in Houston.