Block parties are a fun, time-tested way to introduce neighbors, encourage interaction and communication, build friendships, and strengthen communities. Despite the event’s name, you don’t have to live along a city block to have one. Any gathering of neighbors can qualify. However, like most good things, block parties don’t simply happen. Organization and effort are required. Exploring how to plan a neighborhood block party can help you avoid missteps and headaches so that you’re free to simply enjoy the company of your community.
How to Plan a Neighborhood Block Party
Good hosts know that when you want everyone to be talking about your party for the right reasons, you need a strategy. While you’ll likely want to add your own flourishes, taking the following steps will help get your party planning started:
If you want to know how to plan a neighborhood block party that everyone will enjoy, start by asking for input. Holidappy suggests talking to your neighbors to get a feel for who would like to attend, what kind of party they’d enjoy, and who would be willing to pitch in. Then, get a group together to pick a time that won’t conflict with other local events and a suitable place that can accommodate everyone. Decide on the scope of the party, identify tasks that have to be accomplished, and determine who will handle the various responsibilities involved in throwing a block party. You’ll also want to consider the budget for the party. Will you rely on donations, request an entry fee, organize a potluck, or foot the bill yourself?
Identify Legal Requirements
Many areas require permits for large gatherings (source). This is especially true if you hope to close off a street for the duration of the event. You’ll need to contact your city or town’s office or public works department to ask about things like community policies, insurance requirements, noise ordinances, and permits. If your block is governed by a homeowners’ association or is under the direction of a landlord or property manager, you’ll want to check with them as well.
Organize the RSVPs and Refreshments
Every party planner knows that a headcount is essential. After all, you need to have some idea of how many attendees you’ll have so that you can ensure that you have adequate space and supplies. That’s why it’s important to get people to RSVP. Are you planning a potluck buffet? Taste of Home suggests keeping a signup sheet so that you have a record of who plans to attend and what they’re bringing to the table.
Games and activities are a great way to break the ice and keep the kids busy so that the adults can mingle and chat. Holidappy suggests playing some background music and organizing games that are fun for all ages, such as a bean-bag toss, sidewalk chalk, frisbees, a water balloon toss, or a three-legged race. It’s also helpful to have a designated play area to keep the kids entertained.
Think About Safety
Before any guests arrive, ensure that the party area is safe. Remove tripping hazards and other potentially dangerous items. Prepare for any accidents that might happen by having first aid supplies available. According to SheKnows, some hosts ward off liability issues by requiring guests to sign waivers, setting rules for the party, and making it clear that parents are responsible for supervising their children.
How can you spread the word about the block party? If there’s a neighborhood group on social media, you can post an invitation there. Flyers posted in the area or delivered to your neighbors will also do the trick. According to Instructables, you’ll want to be sure that the invitation includes important facts like the time and place of the event and contact information for those collecting RSVPs. Don’t forget to include a deadline for RSVPs to motivate people to respond.
Plan for Set Up and Clean Up
Even the most relaxed block party will require a little preparation, so have a plan for setting up the space and volunteers to help you do the work. Are you planning to decorate? What about arrangements for refreshments, coolers for drinks, or seating for guests? Is there a sound system to provide music? SheKnows recommends having trash and recycling bins scattered throughout the party’s location to encourage guests to clean up as they go. Of course, you’ll also want to have a designated cleanup crew to deal with the party’s aftermath.
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