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What’s the best way to break the ice with your neighbors? A block party, of course! Block parties give everyone a chance to get to know each other better - including neighborhood kids. For folks who are new to the neighborhood, it will help them feel included. For longtime residents, it’s an opportunity to reconnect. It’s also a great way for young parents to connect and form playgroups with neighborhood children. Throw a potluck party and exchange your favorite recipes. Keep reading to learn how to throw a block party that will make close friends out of neighbors.
When choosing a date for a block party, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind. Depending on where you live, you’ll want to choose a time of year with weather that is conducive to an outdoor block party. You’ll also want to avoid holidays or peak vacation times to ensure that all of your neighbors will be in town. Finally, make sure you leave enough time to request a permit if you’re planning to temporarily close the street(s).
Try to choose a central location in the middle of the neighborhood for your block party. That way, nobody will have to travel too far or worry that it might not really be in their neighborhood. You’ll also need to consider the amount of street traffic you have in your neighborhood and avoid busy thru-streets.
Also, plan the location well in advance to ensure that block parties are allowed and that you have time to procure the necessary permits.
Speaking of permits, they are not only likely required for street block parties, but they can also help make your party easier to plan. Often, local public works departments will help out with street barricades and trash and recycling bins for your neighborhood event, which means you can cross those items off your to-do list. Make sure you have an alternate plan if your permit request falls through. A backyard block party may not require a permit at all, although you should always check ahead.
Establishing and sticking to a budget is essential for block party planning. Permits are often free, but not always. You’ll also want to consider whether you want to throw a potluck block party or have it catered. Will everyone bring a dish to pass, or will a few grill masters be in charge of hot dogs, burgers, and brats? Also, who will be supplying the beverages? Will we need to hire entertainment such as music for the adults or a magician for the kids? Will you be renting outdoor party tents? You’ll have to factor all of these items into your budget.
Regardless of who is in charge of planning the neighborhood block party, everyone who plans to attend should be expected to make some kind of contribution. Whether it's offering up a grill or coolers or making a financial contribution, everyone can and should help out - it’s part of what brings everyone together!
Party planning is much easier when you begin with a theme. You could plan a Hawaiian luau party complete with leis and beach-themed music. For a more elegant party, plan a wine and cheese theme with wine pairings and charcuterie boards. Or you could plan a sports-themed party and ask everyone to wear their team’s logo. Nothing brings neighbors closer together than bonding over their favorite teams!
Nobody wants to be a party pooper, but it’s important to have ground rules for your block party. After you’ve gotten your permit, you’ll need to make sure that you understand local laws and adhere to them. You also should create a set of rules to ensure that you’re being considerate to all neighbors, whether or not they plan to attend the party. The party should end at a reasonable time, and if you plan for music, it should not be too loud. Also, determine whether pets are allowed; most panners suggest leaving them at home to ensure the safety of pets and attendees.
It’s not fun to think about cleanup, but it definitely should be part of block party planning. Ask neighbors to come together to form a clean-up crew. Also, don’t wait until the end of the party for cleanup. Cleaning up at the end of the party will be much easier if everyone does their part throughout the event. Keep trash and recycling bins in multiple locations so that attendees can easily dispose of empty cans or bottles, paper plates, and napkins rather than letting garbage pile up. Initiate final cleanup about an hour before the party is scheduled to end. This will give folks a hint that it’s time to wrap things up and will keep the party from going too long.
Another consideration for planners is what you’ll need for block party rentals. Start with the basics, such as tables, chairs and lighting. To keep things simple and environmentally friendly, you want to rent dining and barware. If you are planning a fall or winter block party, you may want to rent outdoor patio heaters. You also should research tent rentals and decide how many tents you will need so that your attendees will enjoy the party rain or shine. Party tents come in nearly every shape and size imaginable, such as these commercial party tents. If you’re planning on having annual block parties, it may be worth investing in purchasing a party tent vs. renting one.
Let’s face it, aside from the people, food and drinks are the most important part of every party. Talk to your neighbors and decide whether you want to have a potluck party or if you want to have your event catered. For folks who don’t like to cook, they could volunteer to supply beverages or provide hot dogs and burgers for the neighborhood grill cooks. If your local permitting rules allow, you could even have a food truck at your neighborhood block party!
Don’t forget that block parties are for kids too! Fortunately you have many options for what to do at a block party, including for kids. You could rent a bounce house to keep the kids busy. Or, fill up buckets with water balloons for an epic water balloon battle. You could also set up a scavenger hunt and hide fun, inexpensive prizes in front yards. Even boxes of sidewalk chalk will keep kids entertained for hours. For older kids and adults, cornhole and ladder are fun and easy outdoor games for all ages.
Be sure to send invitations out at least several weeks in advance so neighbors can mark their calendars and have plenty of time to RSVP. Some things to include on your invitations include: event date, time and location. If you’re charging an admission fee or requesting donations, include that information as well. You can also ask for volunteers to help with the party in your neighborhood party invitations. Finally, include some party guidelines or rules to set expectations ahead of time for the party.
Neighborhood block parties are not only a lot of fun, they also help to build a tight-knit community. They give neighbors the opportunity to bond and make new friends. They also encourage a sense of inclusivity for neighbors of all ages and foster an environment where people watch out for each other. It’s also a way to learn more about the community you live in, especially if you’ve recently moved from a distance. Just be sure to include name tags so that nobody has to try to remember everyone’s names!
Planning a neighborhood block party is a tall order, but you don’t have to do it all alone. If you need help finding the perfect tent for your party, American Tent is here to help. Contact us and we’ll help you guide you to the right tent to ensure your event is a success!
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