Block parties are great events to promote community harmony, interaction, and bonding. Even if it just seems like a neighborhood party, it requires a lot of planning and coordination.
The great news is it already comes with a built-in audience, so you don’t have to spend extra effort in marketing and promoting the event. But you do need great effort to ensure all participants enjoy and have fun.
We have come up with an incredible list of block party ideas to help you plan better.
A. What is a Block Party?
A block party also known as a street party is the opportunity for members of a community to get together, meet each other, and observe an event of some importance for mutual solidarity and enjoyment.
B. Why should you have a block party?
The sheer essence of a block party is fun and enjoyment while building meaningful relationships with your neighborhood. Besides this, there are multiple other perks as well-
- Block parties foster a strong sense of community. Knowing the neighborhood members beyond their names and addresses allows a space for natural bonding to promote a stronger, safer, and more personal community.
- Block parties strengthen and reinforce social bonds that improve frequent interactions. Engagement in block parties allows members to discover the interests and hobbies of each other.
- Block parties encourage the creation of trends and traditions. Communal activities just need a little nudge to start. This can be for working towards a common activity or creating one's little tradition that can be celebrated each year.
- Block parties provide a space for support and comfort for newcomers. New families in the neighborhood need time to adjust and get accustomed to the new environment. These parties are the perfect opportunity to break the ice and know the neighborhood.
- Block parties promote community harmony. Organizing a party together gives neighbors more incentive to trust each other. These events can be a great platform for neighbors to share tips, recipes, and other valuable information in a fun and relaxing environment.
- Block parties create fun and happiness and encourage creativity. There is no set theme or way of organizing block parties. From simple grilling and dining to more elaborate themes or competitions, you can go wild with your imagination.
C. How to throw a block party?
- Meet and decide
Doesn’t matter if you have lived in the block for several years or just moved in, you might still not know all of your neighbors. Block parties are a fun way to get to know each other. Even if it is a relatively laid-back party, it requires extensive planning. So it would be better if you could hold a meeting to decide about the party. For maximum enjoyment at minimum cost, you will need-
- A dedicated group of volunteers. 5 to 7 should be enough for a small neighborhood
- A city permit. The rules vary from community to community, check with your local representative
- Free food and drinks
- Ice cream (of course!)
- Organize a group of volunteers
You need a team of at least 6 to throw a laid-back block party. You can include more depending on the size. The volunteers will be responsible for
- Applying for the permit, promoting the party to neighbors, and taking sign-ups
- Organizing the potluck and managing the food table
- Posting ‘no parking’ signs
- Cleaning up post-event
Start by asking people if they are willing to help. You can even try posting signs on the street post at the end of your block, asking for volunteers to meet at a local gathering place. If people don’t show up, you may have to go door-to-door.
- Pick a date in advance
Block parties are not just simple neighborhood parties, they require time and a lot of arrangements including permits and a (possible) street closure. So the more time to keep aside to work out the details the better. An ideal way to do this is by deciding on a date two to three months in advance, which will give you plenty of time to organize.
This will also leave you with plenty of time to provide your members with notice so that as many of them can attend as possible. If you want a full house, consider sipping weekends or holidays such as Halloween or Fourth of July as people are likely to have other plans. But you could choose to do a themed block party around these days.
Also, be aware that most of the towns have limits on when block parties can occur and only offer permits for specific times of the year. They will also need time to grant the permit, so you will need to account for that as well.
- Get your permit
Permits and city applications are necessary if you want to close down a street or re-direct traffic. This also goes when your event involves a public park, alcohol park, sound-amplifying equipment, etc. If you are opting to host in someone’s yard or house instead, you can skip this option. To know more about your specific city rules and requirements, look online at your city’s website or call city hall.
For example, in Chicago, most aldermen require that first-time applicants gather signatures from their neighbors to show that there is no objection to the party. The number of required signatures varies from ward to ward. So if you are a first-time applicant, you will need a door-to-door visit to gather signatures.
- Promote your party
There are a lot of ways to promote your block party. The most direct approach is to tape Save-the-Dates to everyone’s front door on your block. Don’t forget to include the contact information of the people you designated to take sign-ups, and the location of the event if people are expected to bring anything. Mention all details of the event and give people a deadline for signing up. This will motivate people who might otherwise wait until the last minute to join the party.
D. Exciting block party ideas
Now that you know how to organize your block party, here are some exciting ideas that you can explore to ensure everyone has a fun time.
i. Block party theme ideas
- Fun and games
A games session is a great way to bring out the inner kids while bonding and making connections. Here are some ideas-
- Set up a photo booth with fun props and capture hilarious moments throughout the day
- A friendly water balloon fight could be a great way to cool off on a hot summer day
- A giant Jenga tournament can be constructed with oversized wooden blocks where each player takes turns carefully removing a piece from the tower
- A hula hoop contest is another incredible way to keep the atmosphere upbeat. You can complement it with a playlist of exciting music
- Icebreaker bingo is the perfect way to start your block party to get people talking and laughing straight away
- DIY and crafts
- Create a DIY craft station where both kids and adults can come to show their creativity. Make sure to provide materials for painting, jewelry making, or even pottery
- Let everyone bring their own white shirts, socks, or band and set up a DIY tie-dye station
- Organize a traditional cooking contest to urge everyone to prepare a unique ancestral dish
- 4th of July celebration
- Encourage your neighbors to dress in white, red, and blue to capture the essence of patriotism and award the most creative outfits
- Set up a DIY station for kids where they can create their firework displays using glow sticks and sparkles
- Host a pie-eating contest with different flavors. For a more fun twist, prohibit the use of hands and see who finishes the pie first
- Movie screening
- Rent a projector and screen to host a beautiful movie night. Choose family-friendly movies to ensure both kids and adults watch together comfortably
- Set up a stand with popcorn, candy, and drinks
- Create a cozy seating area with blankets and pillows
- Spary bug and mosquito repellent sprays to keep the area fresh and pest-free
- Karaoke night
- Rent audio equipment and stage a dance floor where neighbors can show off their moves. Play popular songs to have everyone grooving
- Set up a karaoke station with a microphone and screen where the lyrics are visible for everyone to see
- You can also set competitions or let everyone vote for their favorite singer
- Hire a local DJ to keep the party going all night
ii. Block party food and drink ideas
Food plays a huge role in uplifting the mood of any party. Moreover, it makes people feel welcome and included. Here is how you can do it right-
- Homemade pies
Homemade food will only be a hit. It does not only taste great but can serve as a tool for bonding and affection. To save time you can purchase premade crusts or have the volunteers bring them from home. To give it a friendly competition touch, you can even host a pie-baking contest.
- Barbecue cookout
If you say party, there has to be a barbecue cookout. It is a great way to bond over food. You can set up charcoal or gas grills to create a wide range of delicious food. You could offer burgers, hot dogs, chicken and steak, and plenty of sides and condiments.
You can also organize a hotdog-eating contest to see how many people can eat in a minute. This will accelerate the fun while getting people to interact with each other. Also, don’t forget to include vegan options for people who don’t eat meat.
- Potluck buffet
Potlucks are excellent for uniting the community and encouraging people to bond over food. Ask everyone on the block to bring their dishes, and you have an amazing spread for everyone to enjoy. Plus, it will keep the costs down. If you want to do it elaborately, you can ask people to share recipes or classify the dishes like main courses, salads, side dishes, and desserts.
- Local food trucks
Food trucks are another great way to bring flavor, fun, and variety to the table. When chosen carefully, you can get a premium food experience at an affordable price. For this, start building relationships with local food trucks and negotiate with professionalism and grace. You can also invite a wide variety of trucks for a broad selection of options and get specialty food trucks for desserts, and drinks.
- Lemonade Stand
Lemonade stands are the perfect way to balance the flavors of your party. You can create custom mason jars or cups with your event’s logo to give it a personal touch. To manage costs, you can consider partnering with a local beverage company. Try adding supply setups, herbs, or other ingredients to make your lemonade stand out.
- Popcorn machine
Popcorn machines are an easy setup that is also easy to use. For unique flavors, you can use classic ingredients such as kernels, oil, butter, and salt or experiment with sugar and other spices. You could even create custom popcorn boxes with your event’s logo which can be taken home as a keepsake. To make the custom boxes memorable and more affordable, consider seeking out local vendors.
- Cocktail pitcher
Drinks are an integral part of block parties. To make it accessible for everyone, it is best to set up cocktail pitchers for guests to enjoy. If there are kids present, make sure you get permission to serve alcohol and also keep non-alcoholic drinks. To avoid any liability issues, make sure your guests don’t drink too much alcohol. Keep plenty of snacks available and provide your volunteers with training so that they can easily handle guests who ask for more.
- Taco bar
Taco bars are incredibly easy to set up and an easy way to satisfy a hungry crowd. You can use any source of protein (chicken, pork, or soya mince), taco shells or tortillas, cheese, lettuce, salsa, and any other toppings to get your taco ready in minutes. You can also set up and keep the ingredients open to allow participants to create their tacos with their favorite toppings.
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