Between work, school and the kids’ schedules, finding time to hang with (or even meet) the neighbors can be difficult – if not downright impossible. A quick fix? The perfect summer block party. Here’s how to pull it off in six easy steps.
1. Make it a group thing.
Take the pressure off by planning the bash with a few neighbors. Approach the ones you know best and ask them to help you organize the event. Ideally, you need neighbors who know everyone in the area (these social butterflies will be essential come invitation time), neighbors who have kids (they’ll be great at planning activities), and the neighbors with the super-organized garage (they can handle logistics like seating, shade, etc.). Together, you can figure out the details – where and when, food and drinks, all that good stuff.
Remember, you may have had the big idea, but the point of a block party is to bring the neighborhood together. Don’t try to do everything yourself.
2. Check with your association.
Before you go any further, check with your association about community regulations for these kinds of events (think permits, noise ordinances or rules about large groups of people congregating). With a bit of planning, you can make allowances if need be and maybe even get the entire street blocked off for your party.
3. Invite the neighborhood.
After getting the go-ahead from the association and finalizing a date, spread the word. You can find fun (and free!) summer templates online – just personalize (don’t forget RSVP and BYOB!), print and distribute. Put the social butterfly neighbors to work here. They can go door to door or just leave invitations taped to doors. Be sure to include an RSVP for a head count, but remember – the more, the merrier! Every neighbor is welcome at a block party.
Tip: Beat the summer heat and throw your block party late in the afternoon or early evening. Don’t forget the citronella candles to keep the bugs at bay, and check out our post on DIY pest control.
4. Plan the menu.
A potluck is the cheapest, easiest option for any get-together, and that applies to a block party. Decide what will work best for your neighborhood – ask people to RSVP with an appetizer, main dish, side dish or dessert; have a point person assign a dish to everyone who RSVPs; or let everyone know they should bring food for their own family. If you’re going with the first option, keep track of who’s bringing what so the neighbors hosting the party can fill in the gaps. If you’re going with the last option, make sure there are a few grills set up for everyone to use.
Arrange a few tables so folks can dine together, and have another table laid with condiments, plates, napkins and utensils. An area for drinks is smart too – fill a few big beverage dispensers with water, ice and sliced fruit, lemonade and iced tea, or stock a few coolers with ice for neighbors who bring their own beverages.
Hungry for inspiration? See our post on the perfect summer cookout menu for mouthwatering recipes.
Tip: Estimate high on what you’ll need in terms of food, drinks and supplies. It’s better to have too much than not enough.
5. Set the stage.
Designate a few driveways or front yards for grilling, prepping and serving. Borrow what you can, like grills, tables and chairs, then hit up the dollar store for decorations like paper lanterns and colorful outdoor tablecloths. Tiki torches will add to the ambiance, and wireless speakers make it easy to play background music.
6. Keep the kids busy.
Stock up on sidewalk chalk, bubble blowers, jump ropes and hula hoops, and make sure you have a few balls handy too. Rally a few teenagers to keep an eye on the younger kids and organize activities and games like hopscotch, 500 and hula hoop competitions.
Tip: If you’ve blocked off the street for your block party, take advantage of all that space! Let kids know to bring their bikes and scooters.