Hosting a block party is a fantastic way to get to know your neighbors and build up a lively community. If you are like many residents, you wish there was more community involvement in your neighborhood. A block party gives your neighbors a chance to get together, build relationships, and talk about the things that matter to them. Especially in neighborhoods where there is no HOA, a block party may be exactly what you need to get the ball rolling on a neighborhood cleanup, a beautification project, or neighborhood watch group. Even if your only goal is to enjoy yourself and meet new people, you may want to learn how to put together a killer block party.
Arnold in Chicago helped organize a block party that 75 people on his block attended, free of charge. He suggests starting to plan your party about three months before you want to host it. He also recommends gathering the following, for maximum enjoyment at minimum cost:
— a group of five to seven dedicated volunteers;
— a city permit (necessary in some communities, and usually free; check with your local representative)
— free food and soft drinks, provided by billing your party as a potluck
— tables to hold the food and drinks;
— a keg or two, and lots of ice;
— some signage, for before and during the party;
— ice cream, preferably donated from a local creamery or provided at a discount (Ice cream probably isn’t necessary, but come on, who doesn’t like ice cream?)
Here are some steps to get you started:
Is there a group of residents who you know are planning people? If you are already connected with a few of these, send them a hand written note or show up at their doorstep at a polite hour of the day and ask them if they want to get in on planning the party. Determine whose yard will be used, where the supplies will come from, and whether or not to make use of a pool, neighborhood facilities, etc. If you don’t know anyone yet, you can plan it yourself and invite everyone!
Take weather into consideration. Think about local events that may conflict with your block party and lower attendance. Pay attention to when your neighbors seem to be around the most so you can maximize attendance. These are a few things to consider when picking the date for your block party.
Some communities will require you to have a city permit in order to host a block party. If this is the case, it will usually be free to you. Keep in mind: If your community required a permit for this, you will need to have the date chosen before going to apply for the permit. Some cities will give you freebies when you apply for the permit! Things like a complementary Jumpy Jack, a pinata, or a visit from the Fire Department truck are all services some cities will offer you when you apply for a block party permit.
Most of the time, you will need to gather signatures from interested neighbors before you can apply for the permit. Check with your local representative to see what the requirement is in your neighborhood.
There are several ways to promote the block party once you’ve gathered the volunteers, determined a date, and received a permit. Whatever you do, make sure you set expectations through your promotion so people know what to expect and what to bring. When it comes to actually promoting the party, you can do a lot through simple word of mouth. After that, you can hand out Save-the-Dates at everyone’s front door on the block. If possible, create a yard sign or two (or several) and use the front lawn to advertise the get-together. Make your promotional colorful and obviously well-thought out. You don’t want to scare people away with a lame invitation.
If possible, for the safety and enjoyment of everyone at the party, post some “no parking” signs to ensure everyone is able to park once they get to the party! You also don’t want to cause a nuisance for people driving through the neighborhood or neighbors who aren’t attending the party.
What better way to bring the community together than to involve a local business to provide catering, whether it be ice cream, snow cones, food, beer, or some other snack or beverage (plenty of local businesses should be eager to do this for a discount). You can help support local business while making the party more enjoyable for all who attend!
What tips do you have for a successful block party?