Posted July 26, 2018
Planning an Outdoor Block Party in 4 Easy Steps
An American tradition, the block party is a fun way to get to know your neighbors, whether you’re the “new kids on the block” or have lived in your community for years. And you don’t need a special occasion to organize an outdoor community block party — summer is as great a reason as any!
You can even host a party in Mary McCormick Park or Deer Park. Here is a list to help you out. So why not take advantage of the gorgeous weather and get your neighbors together? If you want your block party to be a hit — and who doesn’t?
There are so many things to think about, you’ll want a committee who can split up the responsibilities. These are some examples of jobs that you can divvy up:
· Logistics — this catch-all committee can be tasked with things like creating and delivering invitations; finding furniture, decorations and extras like garbage cans; and deciding on the location.
· Setup — these are the folks who are going to make sure the selected location is properly staged and ready, will set up tables and decorations, will designate locations for garbage cans and so on.
· Food — this group is in charge of making sure there’s enough food planned, scouting for barbecues if needed, providing the beverages etc.
· Entertainment — this group is responsible for games and activities for both kids and adults.
· Cleanup — last but not least, this group makes sure that everyone goes home with their (hopefully empty) serving ware, that all the trash gets picked up and disposed of, and that the block is left in top shape.
1. Scout the perfect location
· Know any applicable rules or regulations, such as those related to noise.
· Choose a location that’s going to be least disruptive for traffic, like a cul-de-sac. Or, perhaps one of the neighbors has a large yard or open space on the property that could accommodate a few dozen people?
· The block you choose should have several usable driveways — so you can stage different things like barbecue areas, food stations, kids games etc.
2. Make the menu fabulous
Summer is synonymous with barbecue, and freshly grilled hamburgers and hotdogs certainly add a nice touch. But this may complicate logistics, so ask yourself these questions:
· Will you have enough people to take turns barbecuing, or can you bring in outside help so all neighbors can participate in the festivities?
· Will you need to rent a commercial-size grill, or will several neighbors be bringing theirs?
· Do you have an area that can accommodate a grill (or several)?
Potluck is an easy way to supplement a barbecue or replace one altogether. If you want the food to be a hit, don’t just tell everyone to bring something to share, however — there’s only so many potato salads a person can eat, after all.
· Split up the neighborhood into sections and have each bring a specific type of food. Ideas include salads, finger foods or appetizers, and desserts. You can even designate one neighborhood section to provide tableware (cups, napkins, forks, etc.) but make sure these neighbors coordinate so you don’t end up with nothing but napkins.
· If you don’t want to give food assignments, ask people to RSVP and include what they’ll bring. Then your food committee can track the RSVPs and provide additional food to fill the gaps.
· If you really want everyone to get creative, choose a theme but don’t make it too complicated — your neighbors won’t love it if they have to spend hours getting ready for the party.
· Take the mystery out of foods by creating a simple food-labeling system and asking everyone bringing food to write their dish description on the label.
3. Don’t forget furniture, decorations and extras
A few basic things your party needs include tables for staging the food, chairs, garbage and recycling cans, and some basic decorations.
Here are some other ideas:
· If you’ve staged your party so there are lawn areas available, invite people to eat on the lawn. Just make sure your cleanup crew checks the lawn for leftovers — no need to invite raccoons or other post-party guests to your neighbor’s yard.
· Ask the neighbors who live in the immediate area to bring extra chairs.
· Designate a volunteer with a truck to drive around and collect everyone’s (labeled) chairs just before the party — that way people don’t have to haul them for a few blocks, especially if you have families with little kids or elderly neighbors. Have a staging spot where everyone can collect their chairs.
· Have a plan for how you’ll dispose of the garbage and recycling.
· You don’t need much décor at a block party, but some simple touches like balloons can add a festive atmosphere.
Chatting and socializing is going to be the primary activity at a community block party — since that’s the whole point — but you’ll still want to have activities for adults, not just for kids.
· Let neighbors volunteer their talents. Is someone an artist who could do face painting? Is there a musician who can bring along the guitar?
· Think of multigenerational activities like water balloon races.
· When planning for kids’ activities, don’t forget there will likely be different age groups.
For stress-free planning, your committee should have at least 2 to 3 weeks to get all the ducks together. That means time will be running out soon for a summer party — so what are you waiting for? For more fun ideas, check out our Block Party Ideas board on our Pinterest page.
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