How do I Organize a Block Party?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Once a staple in many cities and towns, the neighborhood block party is making a comeback. Sometimes held as simply a community get-together and other times conducted in order to address a specific issue relevant to the neighborhood, the block party does not just happen; there is a need to coordinate tasks in order for the event to be successful.

Inexpensive, easy to prepare foods, like hot dogs, can be great options at a block party.
Inexpensive, easy to prepare foods, like hot dogs, can be great options at a block party.

Because there are many tasks that are involved in putting together a block party, it is a good idea to begin with a planning committee. Spread the word by sending a letter to each residence in the area. If there is a neighborhood watch group already in place, ask them to spread the word through their usual means of communication. Set a date and a place to formally organize the committee.

Potluck block parties mean that each family brings a different entree.
Potluck block parties mean that each family brings a different entree.

While the exact structure of the planning committee will vary, there are a few functions that will always be needed. In order to pull off a successful block party, there must be a chairperson to keep everyone motivated. Someone will need to handle publicity, while someone else will need to be function as the treasurer. If holding the party will involve blocking off streets, someone will need to see to the legalities, such as obtaining a permit and working with local law enforcement to arrange for traffic to be diverted during the time of the party. In addition, someone will need to oversee food, cooking equipment, tables and chairs, decorations, and the arrangement of any entertainment. Use that first planning session to identify needs and secure volunteers for each of the essential tasks.

Barbecuing is a popular activity at summer block parties.
Barbecuing is a popular activity at summer block parties.

Determining the date and time for the block party is very important. Ideally, you want to hold the party on a day of the week when the majority of the neighbors can attend. Saturday is often a good option, as well as a Sunday afternoon. A long holiday weekend is often an excellent choice. Go with a time of year when the weather is pleasant and there is less of a chance for rain or other inclement conditions that could derail the event.

Snacks such as potato chips should be included at a block party.
Snacks such as potato chips should be included at a block party.

Unless everyone in the neighborhood wants to prepare food and combine the offerings into a huge potluck meal, you may want to consider inviting local vendors to set up at the event. This can provide everyone with choices such as hot dogs, hamburgers, barbecue, and other fun foods. The vendors get the publicity and may even offer a discount on their usual prices in exchange for the public relations.

A game of touch football may be played at a block party.
A game of touch football may be played at a block party.

However, there is nothing wrong with a private block party where the residents provide all the food themselves. You can go with a central theme, such as a neighborhood barbecue, or allow everyone to prepare his or her specialty dishes. Just make sure to maintain an ongoing list of who is preparing food, and what they are providing. Otherwise, you may find yourself with an overabundance of fried chicken and no potato salad or baked beans to go with the chicken.

Appetizers might be served if a large number of guests are expected.
Appetizers might be served if a large number of guests are expected.

If at all possible, plan the block party several months in advance. This provides time for adjustments or additions to the plans to be made if necessary, and will keep the stress level down for everyone. Keep in mind that the idea of the party is to build community pride, encourage good relations between neighbors, and in general make your neighborhood a more inviting place to live. Planning well and allowing plenty of time to get everything done in a timely manner will go a long way toward reaching those goals.

A neighborhood barbeque is one popular option for a successful block party.
A neighborhood barbeque is one popular option for a successful block party.
Casseroles are popular dishes people bring to a block party.
Casseroles are popular dishes people bring to a block party.
A person attending a block party might bake a pie.
A person attending a block party might bake a pie.
Notify each family in the area that a party is planned for a certain date.
Notify each family in the area that a party is planned for a certain date.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

davitz38

Also, you can post your block party online to invite more of your neighbors.

anon37041

Great article. Thanks!. I also found that you could check with your local town office - they may be able to help with ideas. My village office had a one-sheet that walked me through the permit process and had resources. Also, sites online. They have a lot of ideas too. Jessica.

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