Neighborhood block parties are an excellent way to re-connect with or even meet neighbors for the first time. Knowing who lives near you is a great way to build camaraderie and instill a sense of unity amongst your neighbors. Block parties are a time-honored tradition that became most popular in the United States during the 1970’s and continue today to allow adults and children alike to socialize and get to know one another better. Below are some tips for ensuring your next neighborhood block party is a raging success:

Theme + Timeline

The first thing to determine is the block party theme. This could be based on any number of things including beach, fiesta or even a popular movie. Consider instructing each family to dress in a different color so the household members are easily identifiable throughout the soiree. You can also decide if this will be a daytime activity, an evening activity or an affair that spans throughout the entire day and evening.  Knowing your theme and timeline will help you prepare for the other necessary block party elements!

Make it Legal

Check with your local city or town hall to determine if a permit is needed. Regulations may include how late the party can be held and which portion of the neighborhood street may be closed down for the festivities. Some cities may even provide temporary barriers that can be placed at the ends of the street to block vehicle traffic.

Delegate Responsibility

Assign various party planning duties to neighbors based on their strengths and interests. Someone will be needed to design and distribute the invitation flyer, be responsible for set-up and tear down, be on hand to make grocery store runs during the party, man the grills, tend to the drinks and buffet, set-up bounce houses, lawn games or other entertainment and activities and more. Often times the invite will ask participants to bring their own lawn or stadium chairs, folding tables and sometimes even beverages to offset costs.

Be Safe

Regulations should be agreed upon and disseminated prior to the shindig. Rules such as staying off non-participating neighbors lawns, no parking on the street, prohibiting pets and ensuring that all trash reaches the appropriate containers may be some of the preset guidelines. It’s also wise to make sure everyone picks up potentially hazardous items such as gardening tools or baby pools filled with water to reduce the risk these pose to unattended children. Rules may be placed directly on the invitation flyer to make sure that all guests are aware. Once RSVP’s have been made, block party guests could place a bow or other item on their front door or mailbox to signify their participation. Some neighborhoods even have participants sign a liability waiver to reduce the legal risks of someone being injured on another neighbor’s property. Neighborhoods may also have homeowners’ associations that also enforce guidelines for block party protocol and block party rules.

Block Party Activities

Make sure to include activities and entertainment for both adults and children. Bicycle decorating contests, scavenger hunts and water balloon tosses are a few that will have the kiddos smiling! Ask the local police or fire department if they’d be willing to make a guest appearance and provide a hands-on presentation for the children. The chance to see a fire truck up close, honk the horn or climb in the back of a police car will provide lasting memories. But don’t forget the adults! Plan grown up games such as volleyball, egg toss, cornhole, ladder golf or washers.

Block Party Menus

Consider assigning meal responsibilities based on where participants live in the neighborhood so that fruit salads, veggies and dip, appetizers, main courses, side dishes, desserts and drinks are all equally covered. Another option is for neighbors to donate money and cater the event so that no one has to bother with food prep. Other block party menu options include a chili or BBQ cook-off, in which a few pre-selected individuals showcase their talents by cooking for everyone to taste test. In this case, the food could be sampled, block party attendee votes could be collected and a prize awarded to the winner in each category.

As long as you thoroughly consider all your options and plan accordingly, your block party is sure to be a hit! If you’d like help in organizing your bash, think about hiring an event planner to aid in your preparations. Share your block party stories and photos with us on Facebook orTwitter! For more inspiration, check out our Summer Party Ideas board on Pinterest.