Everyone we know is busy. Suburban streets are a constant flow of cars pulling in and out of their driveways. We drive to and from work, kid activities and household errands with no more than a vague wave to our neighbors when we pass by. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend a little more time with the people who share our street?
A block party is a great way to spend a sunny day and get to know your neighbors better. Set up the party in the middle of your street, gather the food, entertainment and of course, the neighbors for an easy party right outside your door.
Let’s Eat! – The easiest plan is a potluck where everyone bring a dish to share. To make sure you have everything you need, put your event on SignUp Genius. The guests can pick from a list of items you need – green salad, mustard and ketchup, dessert – without duplication. For the main dish, you can ask everyone to pitch in for the cost. Guests can bring their drinks in a personal cooler or you can include it in the cost of the main dish.
Go Play in the Yard – Set up each yard with a different outdoor game. Suggestions include Bocce, yard Twister, croquet, lawn tic tac toe, volleyball, badminton, horse shoes, bean bags or ladder golf. Bring out the hula hoops, jump ropes and balls of all sizes. You can also make a four square game with chalk or tape on the driveway or street.
Fun Stations – Set up self-serve stations offering sidewalk chalk, bubbles and temporary tattoos. Enlist some of the teens on the block to help with face painting. Create a simple background for selfies and group photos. Provide a large frame, sunglasses, boas and hats to be used as props.
Take a collection – This is a great opportunity to give back to your community at large. Call your local food bank and see which items they need the most this month. Collect new and gently used school supplies for families who are struggling. You can even help the furry friends of the community by collecting used towels and blankets for the animal shelter in town.
What can you borrow? – Most of the basic items needed for a block party can be found in everyone’s garage. Ask everyone to bring their tables and chairs, coolers and lawn games. Pull out the kiddy pools, sprinklers and water guns. Determine who has tents, grills and other tailgating items.
What should you rent? – If you have a large enough group, you can split the cost to rent a bounce house, a dunk tank, a mobile zip line or carnival games. You can also rent food machines such as a popcorn machine, cotton candy maker or a snow cone machine. If there are small children at your block party, you might want to rent a character costume to meet and greet the kids.
Night time fun – When the sun goes down, your party will need a little more light. Bring out the fire pit and make s’mores. Use glow in the dark sidewalk chalk to make cool art. Create a glow in the dark scavenger hunt by hiding glow sticks in neighborhood bushes and trees. Set up a family friendly movie to be shown on the side of the house or garage door.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer, a suburban mother of three and the neighborhood party planner