I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in a neighborhood that had legendary block parties every Fourth of July.
Some of my best childhood memories come from those parties.
These block parties were so much fun because:
- All the kids dressed up in costumes
- We had our own three block long parade
- Our street was closed down so we could roam around carefree
- Everyone in the neighborhood was there
- There were games for everyone from toddlers to adults
- Fabulous food
Fast forward many years later. Now that I live in my own neighborhood I want to get to know my neighbors better.
More than just waving at them as they drive by.
I’d love to throw a huge block party like I had when I was a kid but how could I re-create that? Those parties evolved over decades and took many people organizing to pull it off.
A couple summers ago my next door neighbor and I decided to have a block party.
We picked a Saturday evening to have the party, put invitations in our neighbor’s mailboxes and organized it as best as we could. We basically threw it together.
It was nothing like my legendary neighborhood block parties in Chicago. But that was okay.
The real joy from those parties was just getting together with our neighbors & having a good time. Our little “thrown together” block party was so much fun. So let me move on & help you have one in your neighborhood!
How To Have A Block Party
Thinking about entertaining and feeding the whole neighborhood can become overwhelming fast. To solve that problem I have a one word for you.
Get together with another neighbor and work as a team. That way one person doesn’t get stuck with all the work.
My neighbor and I planned together and decided to provide grills to use, drinks, plates, utensils, napkins and dessert. We asked the guests to bring their own meat or item to grill and a chair.
As people started to call in and RSVP most of them asked if they could bring something. At that point I would ask them to bring a small side to share. Most people don’t mind making a side for a party. Since everyone pitched in there was plenty of food for everyone.
When you think about a simple block party, those are all the things you need. Good food & good company.
Pick A Date
Decide when the party will be. There will never be a day where everyone can come, so just pick a day that you think will work best and go with it. Consider the weather and what time of day would be best. In years past we’ve had our block party in July and it’s been WAY too hot. This year we had our block party in June and it was much more comfortable.
Decide how many people you want to invite. This step can be tricky. Don’t be exclusive, but do invite a number of guests that you can handle. Keep in mind that if you invite neighbors from one block, it will be expected to invite everyone from that area.
I made a simple invitation on my computer, printed it off and put one in each mailbox.
We decided to have the party right in our front yard since it’s a flat area that is well shaded by trees. Everyone was able to sit together while the kids played. Think of your guests: what would be most comfortable for them?
Tailor your party to the demographic you have in your neighborhood. My neighborhood has a lot of little kids so we put out a lot of activities for them.
- Water tables
- Coloring station
- Bags and other yard games
- Costume contest
Other Tips For A Great Block Party
Be hospitable–be willing to share your stuff.
Be open and welcoming to people of other cultures or people who are not like you. We have a lot of internationals living in our neighborhood. I want to get to know them so sometimes that means really trying hard to pay attention to what they’re saying (especially if English is not their first language). Speak slowly and try to animate in a way that will help them understand.
Make new friends!
I hope this inspired you to have a block party of your own!