Kick off Summer with a Neighborhood Block Party!
June 22, 2012
Kick off the summer with a block party that brings the neighbors together, gives everyone something to look forward to, and fosters a sense of community. Whether you have lived on your street for years and are heading up the annual block party or live in a brand new subdivision and want to get to know the new neighbors, taking on a block party is a huge responsibility, but can be a lot of fun! So gather together the rest of your block party committee, finalize your date, and get ready for a rocking good time with all your neighbors!
Send out the invitations for your block party at least a month ahead of time to give everyone plenty of notice. These building block invitations are a cute idea and play on the “block” theme! You can also set up a web page or Facebook group for your neighborhood, which might make it easier to keep everyone up to date on preparations and party information. Be sure to include any important information, like cost per family, what potluck dishes are needed, and if families need to provide their own main course or drinks, on the invitations.
If you want to close down your street for the day, you’ll need to get a permit from the city, but if that’s not an option, use game field cones to block off driveways or as a warning to cars so they slow down.
Block parties are a great time to do potluck, with everyone contributing a dish to pass. To be sure you don’t wind up with six chocolate cakes (although that wouldn’t be a bad thing) and no sides though, you might want to assign specific types of dishes, like sides, appetizers, salads, and desserts, to specific families though. This will ensure all your courses are covered! Depending on your budget, you can either have everyone bring their own meat to grill or have the committee provide the main entrée. Burgers and hotdogs are always crowd pleasers and an inexpensive option for a large crowd, or, if you have enough money in the block party budget, you could even hire a local catering company to roast a pig!
Set your food tables up in a central location to encourage mingling among the neighbors. And since you won’t want your food sitting out in the hot sun all day, using someone’s garage or renting a large tent. Make your food area easy to find by marking it with bright colored balloons and a colorful sign. You can collect folding tables ahead of time from any neighbors who can spare them and cover them all with matching vinyl table cloths in bright colors to give your block party a festive atmosphere. Make sure you have plenty of bright, summer-inspired paper goods to serve all the goodies on! You don’t want to be running out of paper plates, napkins, and plastic silverware mid-party! You might also want to consider using fabric food covers as well to keep the bugs and dirt off the food. For any mayonnaise-based salads, dips, or sides, you’ll want to make sure you keep them on ice to prevent spoilage.
Plan plenty of fun activities to keep the kids amused during your block party. Have stations set up around the neighborhood with different activities, this will encourage everyone to travel from house to house and keep the party moving! Face painting, creating murals with sidewalk chalk, decorating cupcakes, water balloon fights, a bouncy house or slip and slide, three-legged races, and bike races are all great ideas. You can also coordinate a game of baseball for the whole neighborhood to get involved in if you have the space! If baseball is out of the question, try a neighborhood-wide game of hide-and-go-seek! Many fire departments are also willing to send a truck for the kids to explore and some firefighters to teach them about fire safety. If this is something you’re interested in, you’ll need to contact your local fire department well in advance though to ensure they have the personnel available. And of course an emergency will take precedence over your event!
Obviously, these ideas cover just the tip of the block party planning iceberg, but hopefully they’ll get you headed in the right direction! Whether you’re new to the neighborhood or have been living there for years, throwing a block party is a great way to get to know your neighbors better and is sure to create new friendships and solidify old ones. So get ready to have some fun and party hard with the neighbors!