If you’ve just moved into a new neighborhood one of the quickest ways to meet your new neighbors is to throw a block party.
A Welcome to the Neighborhood Block Party
Let’s face it, getting to know your neighbors might be an intimidating prospect (if you’re shy) or it might be challenging if you’re just busy. Instead of going door-to-door or simply waving at your neighbors when they happen to drive by, throw a neighborhood block party to fast-track the process for everyone. Here’s what you need to do.
10 Point Neighborhood Block Party Checklist
Set a Date
Stop saying “someday” and put a date for your block party on the calendar. If you already know one or two of your neighbors, get together with them and set a date together.
Assemble your Dream Team
If you take on all the responsibility for the block party yourself you might be so exhausted when it finally arrives that you can’t even enjoy it. Make sure you have at least one other neighborhood homeowner or family helping to organize and run the event.
Map Out a Location
This could be someone’s backyard, a cul-de-sac, large driveway, neighborhood park or some other area large enough for everyone to gather. Ideally it will be located so that it’s convenient for people to bring food (assuming you’re having some type of pot-luck or BBQ/potluck combination).
Decide on a Menu
One of the most common neighborhood block party traditions is the potluck, where everyone brings something to share. In some instances, people are asked to bring specific things, such as a dessert, chips, side dishes, condiments, etc. and a designated host (or hosts) grills hotdogs, hamburgers, steak, chicken, or some other “main” item. You can even set up your party so that when someone RSVP’s they can choose an item to bring. That way you’ll know if all the items are covered or what still needs to be purchased. In addition to the menu, you’ll need to decide on things like beverages (provided, bring your own or bring some to share?) paper plates, napkins, cutlery and how you’ll collect and dispose of all the trash.
Fun and Games
Plan an ice-breaker game that gives everyone a chance to introduce themselves. Devise a plan so that you can play music. Think about how the space can be organized for conversational seating or mixing – after all, that’s the point, right? If there are a lot of kids in the neighborhood then organizing a game-space for kids or renting a bouncy house could be ideal.
TheDatingDivas.com have a list of 30 block party theme ideas that you can use to fill out the fun and games portion of your event, such as:
- Bubble want parties
- Photo booths
- Glow stick bowling alleys
- Chocolate tasting
- Art parties
- Ice cream socials
- Progressive dinner (neighborhood style)
- Bike parade
- Picnic and party games
- Sidewalk chalk festival
- Popcorn and a movie
- Book party
- Cheese party
- Smores party – and more
Save the Date
Hand-deliver “Save the Date!” postcards or flyers throughout your neighborhood 2-3 weeks before the big day, with:
- Date and time of the block party
- What to bring (chairs, food, beverages, paper plates, etc.)
- What to expect (will there be games? kid’s games or entertainment? music? fireworks?)
- Who to contact to RSVP, sign up to bring something or ask questions and their address, email address and/or phone number
Laminate and post a copy of the flyer on the group mailbox or community bulletin board or website.
Send a Reminder Invite
Remember how you were all so busy that you couldn’t meet each other? 2-3 days before the block party deliver another round of flyers (or send a reminder email if you managed to get email addresses through RSVP’s). This can simply be another copy of the flyer or postcard you sent as a “Save the Date.”
Give Yourself Extra Time
Make sure that you have all of the “must-have” items assembled or accounted for on the day before the block party. This includes all the items you know that attendees will be bringing as well as those you and the other block party organizers have agreed to provide.
Forgive the “advertorial” nature but check out this Lowe’s video (only a couple of minutes) that shows how to decorate and dress up your party including a great “Rock the block” banner like the photo shown above.
Start setting up the space early, so that when the start time rolls around and people start showing up, the music is already playing, the grill is heated up, tables for potluck items, tableware, cutlery and beverages are set up and the kid’s space is ready to go.
Wear Name Tags
As cheesy as it might sound, name tags can BE the ice breaker people need to start getting acquainted and it saves everyone the embarrassment of potentially forgetting the name of someone they’ve previously been introduced to. Put someone in charge of name tags and make sure the writing is big and legible.
Hopefully all of your neighbors won’t simply disappear when the party is over, they will stay and help clean up and take down. But just in case, make sure you have one or two people who have already committed to help so that you’re not stuck doing it all yourself.
You might also like: Top 10 Ways to Be a Good Neighbor in the Pacific Northwest