Block Party Basics

It’s time to rock the block and turn a collection of addresses into a close-knit community.

Menu Ideas
People-Pleasing Main Dishes

Blue Cheese Burgers

Photo by Colby

Salads to Feed a Crowd

Black Bean and Corn Salad II

Photo by larkspur

Picnic-Style Side Dishes

Garlic Corn on the Cob

Photo by CookinBug

Friendly Desserts to Share

The Best Lemon Bars

Photo by KrystaB.

Thirst-Quenchers by the Gallon

Easy Raspberry Lemonade

5Foot3

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.

Ready to start planning a block party?

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.