Get Permission From Your TownYour first order of business is to call your city and let them know your intentions. Tell them the date and time you'd like to plan your block party and the approximate amount of participants you're expecting.
If a permit is required, you may need to go in and apply for it. Be sure to bring photo ID and proof of residency (such as an electric bill).
After you receive your permit, read it from beginning to end and make sure you comply with noise, fire and other rules exactly. You don't want your big day busted just when things are starting to get fun!
Aside from your town's rules, observe common sense. Don't locate your grill near a garbage can that will contain flammable materials, for example. And make sure you keep objects such as chairs and tables well back from the walking area so guests don't trip or have to make their way precariously around.
Deliver Invitations to the NeighborsGet creative with your block party invitations. Sure you could just call them, or even post something on their Facebook page...but why not have a little fun with it?
If you're creative, use clipart titles to fancy-up your fliers and make them appealing. Add some patriotic clipart too Remember to add any party details such as dishes you expect them to bring, parking instructions etc. Be sure to include your phone number and e-mail address for any questions guests may have.
If designing isn't your thing, you can use a pre-made template like the one shown. Either hand deliver the invitations (it's a great excuse to meet any neighbors you aren't yet acquainted with), or drop them into their mailboxes. Remember that it's technically against the law to put anything into a mailbox, so you might want to stamp them and send them through the post office.
Distribute Sign-Up SheetsYou can either note on the invitation that guests should set up their own seating and tables, or to make things even more organized, you may wish to distribute a sign-up sheet.
The sheet can include such items as tables, chairs, cups/plates/plastic forks and knives, napkins/paper towels, barbecue grills, trash cans and tablecloths.
Ask that the sheets be returned by a certain date (one week before the party should be plenty of time).
Decorate Your NeighborhoodAgain, observe town regulations on this. But most cities are accepting of balloons and streamers in a cordoned-off (or roadblocked) area. Tie streamers around telephone poles and get balloons filled with helium so you can attach them to the corners of your table or, if you expect a small attendance, you may even want to give these out to the neighborhood kids. Also remember what you put UP you'll also be responsible for taking DOWN later. Plan on having a team of people ready to help you clean up.
On the flyers, you may want to ask guests to decorate their own party area and put up a sign with their family name as a "getting-to-know-you" gesture. Or buy a few gifts and make it a contest: best decorated house, most festive family...whatever you think would motivate your neighborhood to get involved.
Consider Holding the Party on a HolidayMost people think of block parties as being a Fourth of July tradition. Warm weather and an excuse to be outside with sparkly things are certainly good reasons!
Since many families will be looking for things to do on holidays like the Fourth of July, Memorial Day or Labor Day, consider one of these dates for the party. Guests will be in the mood for some good barbecue and great conversation at these times, so these dates are all ideal.
Have a Few Games AvailableIt's likely there will be children at your party, unless you live in a specific community that is adults-only. If you expect kids to attend, have a few games available, such as these:
- Moonwalk/bouncer (call local party organizers for rates; these can be quite inexpensive)
- Rented cotton candy or popcorn machine
- Ring toss: these are pretty easy to make using soda bottles and embroidering hoops!
- Sidewalk chalk: again, this makes a wonderful contest!
- Water balloons: set up a balloon toss game or host an all out water balloon fight!
Above all, have fun with the process. Don't forget your camera! You'll be getting to know your neighbors a little bit better in the most fun way there is. Be flexible but do have a plan and some organization behind your block party, and it's sure to be a hit.