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Celebrate Summer With a Good Old-Fashioned Block Party

Summer's here and the time is right to throw a blockbuster block party. What better way to meet the neighbors, make new friends, and create a close-knit community. We've got crowd-pleasing recipes to share and practical tips for organizing a successful get-together, so get out there and rock the block!

Block Party 650x465

Block Party

Epic Block Party Food

It's a good idea to have lots of variety so there's something for everyone. If it's a potluck party, you can assign dishes -- for example, people whose last names begin with A through F bring appetizers, G through L bring main dishes, M through R bring side dishes, S through Z bring desserts, and everyone brings drinks. Or share a sign-up sheet -- do what works for your crowd.

Appetizer Ideas

Go for super-easy finger foods that you can eat in bite or two. These savory RITZ Pulled Pork Bites will get the party started deliciously.

RITZ Pulled Pork Bites

Photo by RITZ Crackers

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Caprese Appetizer
Avocado Mango Salsa
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Main Dish Ideas

Easy to make ahead and slap on the grill come party time, these Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs are real crowd-pleasers.

Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs

Photo by balsdon_21

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Big Smokey Burgers
Pizza On The Grill I
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Summer Salad Ideas

Serve up a big bowl of summer's favorite flavors in this Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad.

1304848 Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad 232211 NancyLou 650x465

Photo by NancyLou

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Black Bean And Corn Salad II
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Big Bold Side Dish Ideas

You'll be the talk of the party when you show up with Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote).

Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote)

Photo by Soup Loving Nicole

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Spiced-Up Grilled Tater Wedges
Grilled Tequila-Cilantro Pineapple
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Delightful Desserts

Be sure to save room for Chef John's Lemon Bars

Chef John's Lemon Bars

Photo by moa

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Strawberry Pie II
Triple Berry Crisp
S'mores Popsicles®

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Thirst-Quenchers by the Gallon

Fun in the sun is thirsty work! Frosty pitchers of Easy Raspberry Lemonade make for easy serve-yourself refreshment.

Pitchers of Lemonade, Tea, and Juice

Photo by Meredith

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Sangria! Sangria!
Good Ol' Alabama Sweet Tea
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Planning the Party

If you know one or two other folks on your block, get together to brainstorm:

  • Decide what makes up your "block." Is it just your street, apartment building, or condo association? How large a crowd can you handle?
  • Sketch out the event date, location, and time.
  • Invite everyone to a general planning meeting. At the meeting, ask for volunteers.
  • Figure at least eight weeks to put it all together--permits and reservations might need lots of lead time.
  • About a week after the party, ask for feedback: what worked, what fell flat, how can it be improved--because a great block party can turn into a fun-filled, community-building annual event.

What to Plan For

  • Who's Who. Family-themed name tags help to group guests at a glance: Oh, so you're Joey's dad!
  • Food. Pre-assigned potluck, random dishes, or both.
  • Tables, chairs, plates, grills, etc. Everything needed for seating, eating, and cooking. Guests could sign up to bring food AND disposable plates, napkins, cups, and cutlery to share
  • Cooking. Man the grills on a rotating schedule so one person doesn't get stuck in front of the fire all day. Unless that's their comfort zone.
  • Ice. You'll need lots of it and coolers to keep it in. Keep cooling ice separate from drinking ice.
  • Food Safety. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Foil roasting pans filled with ice can chill bowls of salads, and slow cookers work great for baked beans.
  • Alcohol. Check if it's legal to serve it and if you need a permit. Make sure no underage drinking is allowed.
  • Cleanup. By volunteers or by assignment. Plan for trash and recycling.
  • Where's the Party? Want to block off the street? You'll need a permit, so get on that right away.

Other Details

  • Theme Party. Optional but fun: Salsa Night, Hawaiian Luau, Summer Carnival, etc. Or build your party around a project like planting trees or digging a community garden.
  • Entertainment. Hook up a sound system, organize a house band, or hire a band. Have a talent show, hula-hoop contest, face painting, bike and trike parade, water balloon toss, etc. Set up a display of crafts or hobbies--you might discover a knitting buddy or prize-winning gardener.
  • Everyone's In. Help elderly neighbors, shut-ins, and people with limited mobility to join in because block parties should be all-inclusive.
  • Restrooms. Everyone uses the ones in their own homes.
  • Washout. Have an alternate date ready if it rains.

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The Easiest, Prettiest Party Desserts You’ll Make All Summer
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Follow me to more recipe inspiration and how-to tips on Allrecipes Dish.


Vanessa Greaves

About Vanessa Greaves

Good food, friends, and fun are always on the menu. Check out things that make me go yum: foodelicious On Instagram On Twitter @vanessa_greaves