A block party is one of the special events that bring together neighbors from all walks of life in the spirit of bonding and community. With all the hecticness of life, some neighbors may never get a chance to meet without a block party bringing them together. So, whether you’re interested in meeting your neighbors for the first time or bringing everyone together again to celebrate community, a block party is undoubtedly the way to go.
Recruit Your Neighbors to Help
Planning a block party is a lot of work. This is why planning one is best done with support from your neighbors. Getting buy-in will be a crucial first step. You can get the ball rolling by posting the idea for a block party on a local online forum or bringing it up with neighbors you see in person. Once you have recruited a few helpers, you can move on to the next step and start planning your party in earnest.
Start Planning Now!
Getting an entire block on the same page can take some time. There are many moving pieces and schedules to contend with when planning a block party. That’s why it’s best to begin planning as soon as possible. Set a date for far out in the future. Doing so will allow neighbors to adjust their schedules to be sure to attend.
More details will need to be hammered out later. However, this is a great time to get the basic parameters of the block party figured out. Besides figuring out what parts of your neighborhood will be invited, the only thing that should really be set at this point is the date of the block party. Once a date is established, the next step will be to make it official and apply for a permit.
Not sure where to start? Check out this handy guide on planning a neighborhood block party.
Apply for a Permit
Most localities will require a permit to have a real block party and close off a street to traffic. Most areas only allow a limited number of block parties on a specific weekend or during the summer, so it is best to work fast to secure the desired date. For example, the city of Chicago allows residents to apply for a block party permit and even will rent a bounce house—all free of charge.
Pick Entertainment Options
There are a ton of different options when it comes to possible entertainment for your block party. A good block party should have plenty of diverting options for both kids and adults. Think of the age range you will be catering to with your block party when choosing activities.
Kids will enjoy a wide variety of activities. Simple options can include playing catch, street hockey, and pulling out a hoop for a pick-up game of basketball. Besides sports, a moon bounce, or bounce house, is always a popular option with the kids (and one that may be difficult to keep adults from using, too!). If money is no object, consider hiring a children’s entertainer such as a clown or animal trainer to entertain the kids.
Entertainment options for adults will be less extensive. If you think people might like to dance, consider hiring a DJ or playing some tunes yourself. Having a local band play is another excellent (and inexpensive) music option.
The last option you may wish to add to the ‘entertainment’ options is inviting the municipal firefighters or police to join the party. Kids will think the ability to explore a real fire truck or SWAT vehicle is the coolest. And adults can get something out of a visit from emergency services as well. For example, the fire department can always offer good fire safety education. At the same time, the police are always happy to work with residents in starting a neighborhood watch. Getting things like this going during a block party can be a good way to kill two birds with one stone.
Promote the Party!
Once you have most of the details settled, it’s time to let people know about your party! The easiest way to do this is to go door-to-door with a flyer to spread the word. Leave flyers in the mailbox if you don’t get a response and post extras up around the neighborhood. Besides putting up ads in person, don’t forget to post the info to local social media groups or neighborhood email chains.
Do Some Decorating
Finally, if your block party will take place outdoors, decorating will likely be necessarily limited. Make sure there is adequate seating for eating and relaxing. Colored paper or plastic tablecloths will make eating more inviting. Table centerpieces can be made of either neighborhood children’s artwork, flowers, or even something fun such as animal balloons.
You can choose to add a little flair with disposable eating utensils. And besides forks, plates, and cups, don’t forget to add some decorative toothpicks. These toothpicks can be a great way to pass out hors d’oeuvres and finger food without having to mess with dirty hands.
With the decorations taken care of, and the block party set up, it’s time to take a step back and appreciate all the hard work and planning that it took to make your event a reality. Hopefully, the block party will be a success and the start of a deeper and better-connected neighborhood.