You’re on your way to enjoying a fantastic Block Party.
Why kick it with the family when you can kick it with the whole neighborhood?
Whether you’re new to the neighborhood or you are a founding member of the welcoming committee, there is no better way to get to know your neighbors than with a block party to entertain all ages, whether to celebrate the summer, celebrate a holiday or birthday, welcome a new neighbor to town or the most popular reason, “just because.” Keep in mind that some communities have different restrictions on block parties and neighborhood gatherings, and if in doubt, it’s best to check with the community board or Home Owners’ Association before the first invitation is sent out. Once you get permission, where do you start??
Make a list of entertainment and services.
We’ve got a handy list just above, but you might not need all of them (or you might need more) so use ours as a framework for building your own. As you are making your list, keep in mind who will be invited and if they have any special requirements that you need to accommodate. Remember Martha from down the street? The one with the vampire complexion and somewhat-sincere remarks about how she can’t go out in the rain for fear of melting? You might consider a tent rental company, just to play it safe. And if you’re planning to invite Scotty from across the road, don’t forget about his peanut allergy because nothing can spoil a block party quicker than anaphylactic shock!
Your checklist should include not just the entertainment you want to book and the event services you need to hire, but also possible ideas for a venue and maybe a co-host. We’ve heard that Jim has been itching to get that new riding lawn mower, but if you don’t want to encourage that, see if your neighbor’s yard would be more convenient. And just because you’re doing the pre-planning yourself doesn’t mean that others won’t be willing to help out with the food and favors, so don’t be afraid to ask others to chip in.
Set a Smart Date AND a Rain Date
Inviting the couple next door to roast marshmallows can be arranged almost anytime, but a proper block party can fall apart quickly if the weather won’t cooperate. When booking a band for your block party here on Gig Salad, be sure to let them know that weather could be a factor, and tell them both the expected date and the backup date. What do we mean about setting a “smart” date? Be careful about when you want to throw your block party so that there is little chance of snow, hurricanes, poison ivy and swarms of mutant killer mosquitoes. When it comes to throwing the block party that will be the stuff of legends, planning goes a long way!
Fun for All Ages!
If your neighborhood is full of happy, screaming children, they will probably need to be entertained. It’s cute the first time the neighbor’s child latches on to your leg and you have to carry them around, but that won’t work for an all-day soirée! Maybe a clown would do the trick, with balloon animals and juggling, or perhaps a face painter or a magician? What about a balloon-animal-twisting, juggling clown that also paints faces? Thanks to all the wonderful entertainers at Gig Salad, the possibilities are endless!
Now that the children are awe-struck and quietly distracted, don’t forget to entertain their parents too! Every party is unique, and you can make yours stand out with a great party band or tribute band, a traveling circus act, maybe even a comedian or hypnotist.
And we haven’t even made it to the food yet!
Catering can be a great option for your block party. Nobody has to cook, there are no dishes to wash and nobody has to keep running back inside for more potato salad. But if you know that cooking can be entertainment in itself, get ready to fire up the grill! Grills have become a thing of pride, and your neighbors would probably love the chance to show off their equipment and brag about their favorite seasonings. Assign different tasks to different neighbors (Robert can cook a mean burger, but Sally’s spinach dip is to die for), and let everyone share in the burden and excitement of feeding each other. Be sure to have plenty of cups, utensils and extra plates, and if you decide against using a party rental service, see who has table and chairs they can bring so you don't have to balance your plate on top of your cup.
Don’t forget the refreshments! Some block parties work great with nothing more than a few large coolers and plenty of ice, while others are more suited to a variety of refreshments. If your party needs a variety, we’ve got plenty of bartenders right here on Gig Salad ready to keep the cups filled! Since it’s a block party, it is important to check with local authorities to see if there are restrictions on beverages. But since you’re already at home, or right across the street, you will save a bundle on cab fare! But whether it’s a daytime or evening block party, and regardless of the age groups, make sure to have enough refreshments to keep everyone hydrated especially on hot summer days. A few extra jugs of ice water or sweet tea are always a great addition to every party.
Now that you’ve got a plan, finalize the guest list!
Inviting everyone to a block party can be as simple as knocking on some doors or as elaborate as sending out custom-printed invitations and RSVPs. Decide what the “invite radius” will be (one street, one block, one phase or one zip code) and you’ll have a good idea of how many plates and chairs you will need. The important rule of thumb (and good etiquette) when planning a block party is to invite every single household within your radius, no exceptions. Nobody likes to get snubbed, so spread the love around.
Just because you’re inviting everyone within the radius doesn’t mean you can’t also invite others outside the radius (without having to invite their entire neighborhood as well), so don’t feel as if you have to leave your own friends at home. In some neighborhoods and cities across the country, it’s traditional to invite local heroes like police or the fire department along to block parties. Building community relations over a burger or a plate of coleslaw never hurts, and it can also make those in uniform more approachable by the neighborhood children (and depending on the local statutes, it might even be possible for the kids to climb around a bright red fire truck or play with the police siren).
Looks like you’re all set!
You’ve got your date, made your list and ordered the invites, so it’s time to relax! Of course, there are always a few last-minute ideas and suggestions to think about: You’re going to want to share the memories with other friends and neighbors, so it might be good to hire a photographer or videographer to document your awesome block party. And depending on the size of the crowd, we’ve also got some options to help with the number two thing on your list.
And if this all seems overwhelming, don’t worry. We’ve got plenty of event planners too. Best of luck with your block party, and don’t forget to snap plenty of photos! If you upload them to Facebook, be sure to send us a link over on the Gig Salad Facebook so that everyone can see how awesome you are!