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For many of us, summer is synonymous with sun, barbecues and spending time with family & friends. It’s also the perfect season for a neighborhood block party. What better way to get to know your neighbors better and enjoy the warm weather? As fun as a block party can be, hosting one can seem intimidating. I get it. The planning, the coordinating, the execution…. it’s a LOT!
But you can pull off the perfect block party with a little planning and these helpful tips! Here’s the essentials from invites to clean up:
The Block Party Essentials
Keep it Simple
There’s a time and a place to go overboard when throwing a party and this is NOT it. I’ll admit, my first block party I went beyond overboard. Adorable handmade invitations, decorations galore, and time consuming appetizers. I nearly killed myself to get everything ready (and perfect) and no one even noticed. No really, no one noticed. Mostly because that’s not what block parties are about. They’re about getting neighbors together for a great time. Yes, you can throw some creative touches to your party while still keeping it simple. Read on and I’ll show you how!
Date & Time
Before selecting a date, I did a search on events going on in our city (popular festivals, concerts, etc.). The less competition, the more folks who will be able to attend. I recommend giving your guests a months notice if possible. Since most people probably assume a block party includes food, I like to schedule mine around dinner time. Remember to keep in mind what time it gets dark in your area. You’ll have to decide whether to bring in extra lighting, if needed.
Location Location Location
Stay away from those busy intersections and opt for a near by cul de sac! No cul de sac? How about a house with a long driveway and decent size front yard. If you’re hosting alone, it’s probably easiest if your front yard is the front yard, but it definitely doesn’t have to be that way. Another option is to work with your city to get the street blocked off. Many cities have an online request form for neighborhood events.
One of the BEST things about a block party is that you don’t have to do all the cooking (I’m a terrible cook 🙂 ). Spread that wealth around. You’ll want to set the tone of what type of food to bring … hot dogs & burgers definitely scream BLOCK PARTY! Assign households different items like salads, sides, desserts, appetizers, etc. I’ve found that our neighbors appreciated being told WHAT to bring. Each guest should also bring their choice of meat and drinks. Designate a couple people to manage the grill at all times. Check out our Girls Guide to Grilling to brush up on your skills ahead of time!
As someone who makes all my own Christmas cards, this one was tough for me. But instead of pulling out my scrapbooking supplies, I pulled out my printer. Printed flyers are the way to go. They’re practical, they’re easy and cheap. Scroll down to grab my Complete Guide to Hosting a Block Party which includes a Word Document block party flyer template that you can customize for your block party! Using a rubber band, we attached a flyer to all our neighbors doorknobs. So many of our guests said it was such a fun surprise to come home from work to see the flyer at their door.
Guests RSVP’ed using Sign Up Genius. This is an awesome (and FREE) tool that allows guests to RSVP. My guests were even able to denote which item they’ll be bringing to share. Not everyone RSVP’ed, but this gave a pretty accurate estimate of who to expect.
Aside from the grill, you’re going to want tables for all the food and drink to go on. I set up food & drink stations, aka separate tables for each type of food or drink item. Not only do I LOVE the idea of an organized block party, it’s easy for guests to set their dishes down in the right spot as they arrive.
But decorate wisely. No one goes to block parties for the decorations 🙂 . I opted to make the station signs into decorative banners. Make your own by printing off the Block Party Banner in colorful paper cutting along the lines (scroll down to get your copy). Punch two holes at the top and string ribbon through each. Adding a colorful table cloth and bright colored napkins were a perfect punch of color.
No block party is complete without some fabulous drinks! Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi is the perfect wine for sharing. We grabbed several bottles of their Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc for our ‘drinks station’. Making ANY occasion more fun, the Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi has been around for over 30 years! It was a huge hit with our guests. Make sure to whip out a wine opener or two and a couple thick markers for guests to label their glasses with. Self service is KEY for a neighborhood block party.
Keep your drinks cool with colorful frozen water balloons! No more ice melting all over your beverages. Plus it’s an easy way to add another pop of color to your display!
Seating for all!
In addition to your food and drink stations, find a comfortable spot for designated seating. Before the guests arrive, place a couple chairs and a blanket in the area so guests will know to follow suit. I like to keep the seating far enough from the grill that the smoke won’t blow into that area. Turn on some upbeat music so that guests know the block party has officially begun!
There’s bound to be at least one kid (or adult 🙂 ) who gets a cut. You know it’s going to happen. So go ahead and pull out those band-aids now! I keep a little pouch with Band Aids, antiseptic, gauze and water under one of the station tables. This party won’t stop just because a little scrape!
Making Cleanup Easy
Cleanup duty is never the fun job, but you can make it quick and painless! I place garbage & recycling bags next to each food & drink station. This encourage guests to place their trash in the garbage as opposed to the table. Under each station table there’s a box of cleaning wipes and either box or tray to reduce the number of trips in and out of the house.
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