A block party is an American summer tradition. Why wait? Start your own tradition this summer!
Whether you’re tight with your neighbors already or still trying to get to know them, this party serves as the perfect launch pad for building solid relationships with those who share your street. Here are a few tips to help keep the organizing fun and easy.
The first step in planning your party is to secure a location. Check out your neighborhood to find a space big enough. Do you live near a park? Do you need to have part of the street closed down? Or does a neighbor have a huge driveway that could hold everyone? If you need to use any public space for you party, contact your city government to find out if you need permits. Ask if there are any restrictions that may apply to your party, such as noise ordinances for certain times of day.
The second crucial planning step is to find a neighbor (or neighbors) to help you with the organization. You’ll have double the manpower for getting jobs done this way.
Spread the word
This will be the easiest party to recruit guests that you will ever throw! No need to mess around with invitations and stamps. Make up something with all the info on your home computer and hand-deliver copies door to door. This is a great way to spread the word and also meet any neighbors you don’t yet know. People will be more apt to come (and help!) if you have personally invited them.
Keep them simple! Tissue paper flags or strings of lights are festive and easy. Borrow folding tables from neighbors. (Or rent some if you aren’t able to round up enough). Pick up disposable tablecloths and some napkins in festive colors.
Ask around to see if several neighbors would be willing to bring their grills. With a large crowd, you’ll need at least two (and at least as many chefs) going strong.
The easiest way to do the food for a big party such as this is for the host(ess) to get the main food item—burgers or sausages, for example, with their respective buns and simple toppings. Then ask neighbors to bring either a side or dessert item to share. Have some suggestions ready for people who ask for guidance, but most people will likely have a favorite dish in mind. Keep in mind that you’ll be outdoors, and possibly in the heat. You want to make sure to have foods that will keep. scaron of Sarah’s Cucina Bella wrote a great post on Mayo-Free Party Salads that would totally rock a block party.
Need recipe ideas? Check out these favorites:
Also encourage neighbors to bring their own drinks, plates and silverware, and you’ve eliminated a huge hosting task!
Check your budget and size of venue when thinking about possible activities. If you’re lucky enough to be at a big park, plan a casual softball or volleyball tournament. You may be able to rent or borrow a volleyball net from a local school or recreation department. Neighbors will definitely have softballs and bats. If you find mitts hard to come by, you can even use a Wiffle ball. Car mats make a great substitute for bases, in a pinch.
If you have the budget, rent a bounce-house for the day. The kids will love it, and I bet some of the “grown-ups” will also. (Just make sure you follow all the safety regulations! Injuries are party-killers!)
If you’re limited by space and money, there are still plenty of possibilities for inspiring fun. Make a few buckets of water balloons ahead of time. Organize a “toss” between pairs, and then let the kids go nuts with the leftovers. Do you have a favorite summer relay?
Finally, once the party is underway, just sit back, relax and enjoy.Remember, you might find your next house-sitter or dog-walker among the guests!