The weather’s heating up, so why not spend some time in the sun with your family and neighbors at a party? Block parties enable communities to reconnect while having fun. Between barbecue cook-offs, games of tug-o-war, and refreshing drinks, there’s lots to love. However, there’s also plenty to organize. From invitations to food preparation to activities—it’s important to plan as far ahead for a block party as possible. So, if you’re planning a block party, check out our ideas below:
- What is a Block Party?
- Where to Host the Event
- How to Throw a Block Party
- What to Include in Block Party Invitations
- Neighborhood Block Party Themes
- Block Party Food and Drinks
- Block Party Games and Activities
A block party is an event held for an entire neighborhood (or, a block) in the marked off streets. Popularized in the 70s, block parties became a way to strengthen community ties and typically include food, drinks, and entertainment.
Most block parties are held in the streets of the included community or neighborhood. However, if there isn’t enough room or a permit issue occurs, communities can host block parties in larger spaces like parks or event centers. It’s important to figure out a venue for a block party well in advance. That way permits, permissions from neighbors, and other details can be straightened out quickly.
Check off the following when planning your community event:
- Pick a Date: Are you hoping to kick off summer? Then make sure to talk to your neighbors months ahead of time about what works best for them. Or, if you’re throwing a Halloween party, make sure the neighbors know well enough in advance so they don’t make other plans.
- Ask Your Neighbors: Before anything is set in stone, confirm with every household that you have their permission to throw the party. Make sure no one is left out, as this can create frustration (or worse, legal issues) down the road.
- Get Your Permits in Order: A permit costs less than $30 in most cases, but these pieces of paper are essential. Not filing at least a few weeks in advance can bring the party to a grinding halt, ruining your plans. So make sure you file early and also check in about roadblocks and other local regulations while you’re at it.
- Involve the Neighbors: Part of the fun of a block party is the community working together to make it happen. Get the involvement started early by including links to digital sign-up sheets with your invitations. Ask people to pitch in for food, drinks, games, music, entertainment, or anything else.
Invitations both let your neighbors know when to mark off their calendars and what the theme of the party is. For that reason, your invitations should be both inviting and informative. Make sure your invitation wording is perfect and you know what details to include in the invitation. Then, pick out a fitting card theme. Whatever you pick, make sure it tells your neighbors what to expect.
Send out those block party invitations at least five weeks in advance. The more guests invited, the more time in advance the invites should be sent out. If you want more information check out our resource on when to send out party invitations.
The theme of the party is essential because it sets the direction for decorations, food, games, and everything in between. Your theme should be fun and appropriate for all age groups. If you don’t already have a theme in mind, check out some of our favorite ideas below.
1. Fall Fun
Throw a party to celebrate the end of the warm days and welcome the winter. This is a perfect block party idea for neighbors who love potlucks of pies, turkey, and roasted vegetables. Include games like a Cakewalk, a Pie Eating Contest, or Pin the Feathers on the Turkey. Feature an exchange of cards between households to let your neighbors know you’re thankful for them. Plus, you can tie to theme together early with these fall fun invitations.
2. Summer Sizzle
Summer lends itself to endless opportunities for fun and games: take advantage of it at your block party. Feature bright, summery colors in the decorations and tasty treats like popsicles and hot dogs. Provide fun ways to stay cool such as a slip n’ slide or a street-wide water balloon fight. Also, make sure your adult guests stay cool by providing hard lemonade or sangria. And if you want more ideas, check out our resource on summer party themes.
3. Springtime Celebration
Spring is here, and it’s time to let the whole neighborhood know. Incorporate plenty of flowers in your decorations, and encourage everyone to dress in their favorite springtime colors. This is a great time of year for lawn sports, so make sure to provide soccer balls, footballs, or equipment for a game of cornhole. If you’re trying to impress, consider hiring a small petting zoo with bunnies, chickens, and goats.
4. 4th Of July Party
Use plenty of red, white, and blue in your table runners, banners, streamers, and other decorations. Include 4th of July classics like hot dogs, hamburgers, and lemonade, but with a twist: Place American flag toothpicks in the burgers and cups for festive flair. And if you plan to host the party until night to watch the fireworks, provide decorative fleece blankets for your neighbors.
5. Memorial Day Gathering
Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to host a block party. Get together with family and neighbors in remembrance of those who served the country. Ask each household to prepare a dish and share a meal potluck style. Include patriotic decor and consider hosting a special activity like preparing care packages for the troops.
Make your Halloween block party a day to remember with plenty of scary decorations and themed food. Start off with spooky Halloween invitations and encourage each household to bring a bucket of candy for a neighborhood round of trick-or-treating. Have all guests dress up in costumes and serve creative treats like witches’ brew punch or green slime cupcakes.
7. Meet Your Neighbors Party
Are there new neighbors on the block? If so, you have the perfect chance to host a block party as a way to welcome them to the neighborhood. While it doesn’t need to be a huge celebration, it gives the whole neighborhood the chance to get together and get to know each other better. With plenty of food and drinks, it’s a perfect way to meet your neighbors.
8. Community Festival
Put together a larger than life festival for the whole neighborhood. This can include plenty of festival games, themed food, and delicious drinks. Ask neighbors to host a game or booth and make sure to get all the needed permits well ahead of time. And don’t forget the music and decorations to bring your festival to life.
This fall event is perfect for a neighborhood with mostly adults. Similar to a beer tasting party, this party would feature plenty of beer tasting opportunities, as well as traditional German foods. Ask neighbors to bring their favorite brews and hand out scorecards to determine the winner.
10. Neighborhood Potluck
Potlucks are a great way to get to know your neighbors while also keeping costs down. Ask neighbors to sign up ahead of time for appetizers, main dishes, desserts, drinks, or supplies. It’s also a good idea to ask neighbors to include allergen information on their dishes.
11. Holiday Block Party
If the months are growing colder and you’re looking to plan a Christmas or holiday block party, we have you covered. Make sure to visit our resource on Christmas invitations to let the whole neighborhood when and where the party will take place. And when planning the event, make sure to include party games fun for the whole neighborhood such as a white elephant exchange or gingerbread crafting party. Finally, ask neighbors to provide their favorite holiday dish or drink.
Food and drink options can be as different as the theme you pick. The most important thing is to make sure there’s enough for everyone. A great way to do this is to ask that all neighbors sign up to contribute something. Basics like hamburgers, salads, and soda can be purchased by one person who is then reimbursed by other neighbors. Also, make sure to accommodate those with special dietary needs like nut-free or gluten intolerance. Things like charcuterie boards also make great appetizers that can satisfy a block party, as long as it’s provided by more than one household. Consider using personalized cutting boards or plates so that each family takes home the right dishware.
Block Party Games and Activities
Entertain the little ones by planning a range of activities and games. Games can include classics like Red Light, Green Light, and Musical Chairs, or less familiar but still plenty-of-fun games such as Mummy Wrap. For a full list of ideas, check out our resource on entertaining party games.
Final Thoughts on Block Party Ideas
Try your best to have fun while planning your block party. And if you’re struggling to get it all done, reach out to a neighbor. Remember, you have a community behind you.