We drive to and from work, kid activities and household errands with no more than a vague wave to our neighbors. Wouldn’t it be nice to get to know the people who share our street? A block party is a great way to spend an afternoon or evening with food, entertainment and of course, the neighbors. Here’s how to organize it.

Location, Location!

You’ll need to get the neighborhood organized and decide whether you’ll host the party on your lawn or if it will be a joint venture with your next-door neighbors or a progressive party with several neighbors hosting. If you live on a cul-de-sac, consider whether the party can be at the end of the street.

Let’s Eat!

The easiest plan is a potluck where everyone brings a dish to share. To make sure you have everything you need, put your event on SignUp Genius. The guests can pick from a list of items you need – a salad, mustard and ketchup, dessert – without duplication. Guests can bring their drinks in a personal cooler – easiest for the hosts.

Go Play in the Yard

If several neighbors are hosting, set up each yard with a different outdoor game. Suggestions include Bocce, yard Twister, croquet, lawn tic tac toe, volleyball, badminton, horse shoes, bean bags or ladder golf. Bring out the hula hoops, jump ropes and balls of all sizes. You can also make a four square game with chalk or tape on the driveway or street.

Fun Stations

Set up self-serve stations offering sidewalk chalk, bubbles and temporary tattoos. Enlist some of the teens on the block to help with face painting. Create a simple background for selfies and group photos. Provide a large frame, sunglasses, boas and hats to be used as props.

Take a Collection

This is a great opportunity to give back to your community. Call your local food bank and see which items they need the most. Collect new and gently used school supplies for needy families. You can even help the furry friends of the community by collecting used towels and blankets for the animal shelter.

What can you Borrow?

Most of the basic items needed for a block party can be found in one’s own garage. Ask everyone to bring their tables and chairs, coolers and lawn games. Pull out the kiddy pools, sprinklers and water guns. Determine who has tents, grills and other tailgating items.

What Should you Rent?

If you have a large enough group, you can split the cost to rent a bounce house, a dunk tank, a mobile zip line or carnival games. You can also rent food machines such as a popcorn machine, cotton candy maker or a snow cone machine. If there are small children at your block party, you might want to rent a character costume to meet and greet the kids.

Night Time Fun

When the sun goes down, your party will need a little more light. Bring out the fire pit and make s’mores. Use glow-in-the-dark sidewalk chalk to make cool art. Create a glow-in-the-dark scavenger hunt by hiding glow sticks in neighborhood bushes and trees. Set up a family-friendly movie to be shown on the side of the house or garage door.

Rain Plan

The easiest thing to do is to turn your outdoor block party into a Progressive Garage Party. Don’t go overboard. Simply pull out the cars and sweep up the floor. No one cares if you have bikes hanging from the ceiling or rakes hanging on the wall. It’s a garage!
Move the carnival games into garages that are next to each other. Set up your art station, games and photo booth at a few other houses. Food and drinks can be stored across the street from the garage where the tables are set up to eat. You can even set up a tent outside as long as the rain is just a gentle downfall. Flexibility is key and kids will love the chance to run from house to house in the rain.
– Pam Molnar

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