First question you’re asking: “Why would I want to host a block party?” Easy: to meet your neighbors. Longer answer: so neighbors meet each other, start sharing ideas, compare safety info, exchange resources like babysitters and handymen, indulge in a little kvetching (405 Fwy. widening project a hot topic here) and my favorite bennie, see end of list, below.
Ten years ago, Larry and neighbor Linda decided to plan a neighborhood block party, chatted up a few more neighbors, and VOILA, this was the 10th. I’m a worker bee, my choice.
Do you know your neighbors? People can live in a house for decades and not know their neighbors. I’m not sure why — we’re the type that moves in and promptly goes around to introduce ourselves (‘cuz then we start ripping a house apart and aren’t so attractive for a while).
People seem to just need a reason to be coaxed out of their homes, and they REALLY APPRECIATE IT – so, why not be the coax-er? Here’s the plan. Easy-speezy:
- Date. Grab a Sunday in spring or early summer before it’s too hot;
- Time. Up ‘til now, it’s been 12 to 4. This year, we tried 2 to 5 PM to help some families with super busy schedules;
- Location. Our driveway, connected to our garage. Flat, enough room. Larry is the KING of an organized, tidy, clean garage*;
- Potluck. People are happy to contribute. No need to give assignments, although if someone asks, suggest savory like hot dogs, pizza, enchiladas. Otherwise you end up with a ton of sweets;
- Beverages, ice, plus a big tub or ice chest. You can assign this if someone asks. 75% will drink bottled water but a bottle of wine always wants to be opened, too;
- Shade – we put a 10 x 10 portable tent on the driveway. Every year, a handful of us struggle to put that thing up, we never seem to remember the technique! Someone in your neighborhood will have one to borrow;
- Tables – 2 six-footers for food, tablecloth, next to a wall with an electrical outlet inside the shady garage where the moving sun won’t require you to move the food. Have a card table for name tags.
- Yes, name tags. “Patti, Cashmere Street.” Really helps.
- Chairs. About a dozen, in the shade;
- Appliances: crockpots keep hot dogs hot. A warming tray helps for things like pizza;
- Music – radio or iPod. Next year, we’re thinking of live music. Will see;
- Caution tape – low-hanging garage door corners and shelves are like magnets and people DEFINITELY walk right into it;
- Activity for kids – I’ve been doing tie-dye at the block party for a few years. Side yard, on the grass, fun. All ages like it, especially me, LOL;
- Email neighbors about two months in advance, then again one month in advance, two weeks, a few days;
- Announce at your homeowners association meeting;
- Flyer: deliver to homes about a month in advance. Larry does around 60 or 70, sounds like a huge job but he gets it done within an hour. True;
- Banner: Spray paint a sheet. That’s all it takes. I put it up on the hedge next to our driveway the week leading to the block party. No earlier because it’s ugly, would hate for folks to think it’s trashy.
- After the party dies down, take leftovers to the fire house. There’s typically a good supply of snacks remaining and sharing with our fire fighters makes us feel good! Besides the warm reception, it’s REALLY FUN to be around these hunky guys for a few minutes. Neighbor Linda joins me for this bennie.
*a few days before the party, Larry declutters the garage, puts things back where they belong, fills the recycle bin with the boxes we never seem to need, sweeps, hoses. He always gets compliments on his tidy garage.