Celebrate Summer With a Good Old-Fashioned Block Party
Summer's here and the time is right to throw a blockbuster block party.
What better way to meet the neighbors, make new friends, and build community. To help you pull off a party to rock the block, we'll share tips for how to throw a block party, and point you to our best crowd-pleasing summer recipes.
How to Throw a Block Party
Don't try to to it all yourself. If you know a couple of other folks on your block, get together to brainstorm (and share the load):
- Decide what makes up your "block." Is it your street, apartment building, or condo association? How large a crowd can you handle?
- Sketch out the event date, location, and time.
- Invite everyone to a general planning meeting. At the meeting, ask for volunteers.
- Figure at least eight weeks to put it all together — permits and reservations might need lots of lead time.
- About a week after the party, ask for feedback: what worked, what fell flat, how can it be improved — because a great block party can turn into a community-building annual event.
Block Party Checklist
- Where's the Party? Want to block off the street? You'll need a permit, so get on that right away.
- Food. You could pre-assign potluck dish categories by last name or share a sign-up sheet.Be sure to include the number of people a dish should feed. If you have a big crowd, each dish could serve 8 to 10, but you'll several people to sign up for a dish category so there will be enough food for everyone.
- Tables, chairs, plates, grills, etc. Everything needed for seating, eating, and cooking. Guests could sign up to bring food AND disposable plates, napkins, cups, and cutlery to share.
- Cooking. If there's grilling going on (it's summer after all) assign turns at the grills on a rotating schedule so one person doesn't get stuck in front of the fire all day. Unless that's their comfort zone.
- Ice. You'll need lots of it and coolers to keep it in. Keep cooling ice separate from drinking ice.
- Food Safety. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Inexpensive foil roasting pans filled with ice can chill bowls of salads, and slow cookers work great for baked beans.
- Alcohol. Check if it's legal to serve it and if you need a permit. Make sure no underage drinking is allowed.
- Cleanup. By volunteers or by assignment. Plan for trash and recycling.
Other Block Party Details
- Theme Party. Optional but a good way to get everyone on the same page: Salsa Night, Hawaiian Luau, Summer Carnival, etc. Or build your party around a project like planting trees or digging a community garden.
- Entertainment. Hook up a sound system, organize a house band, or hire a band. Have a talent show, hula-hoop contest, face painting, bike and trike parade, water balloon toss, etc. Set up a display of crafts or hobbies — you might discover a knitting buddy or prize-winning gardener.
- Everyone's In. Help elderly neighbors, shut-ins, and people with limited mobility to join in because block parties should be all-inclusive.
- Who's Who. Use family-themed name tags to help group guests at a glance: Oh, so you're Zoey's mom!
- Restrooms. Unless you're in a public park, it's usually best if everyone uses the ones in their own homes.
- Washout. Have an alternate date ready if it rains.
Epic Block Party Food
It's a good idea to have lots of variety so there's something for everyone. If it's a potluck party, you can assign dishes — for example, people whose last names begin with A through F bring appetizers, G through L bring main dishes, M through R bring side dishes, S through Z bring desserts, and everyone brings drinks. Or share a sign-up sheet — do what works for your crowd.
Keep food casual and easy to eat with only a fork at most. Think sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers, kabobs, salads, finger foods, and easy desserts like brownies, cookies, and watermelon slices.
Summer Appetizer Ideas
Go for super-easy finger foods that you can eat in bite or two. These colorful Roasted Tomato, Avocado, and Fresh Mozzarella Crostini will get the party started deliciously. Watch the video to see how to prepare them.
Get more summer appetizers to feed a happy neighborhood block party crowd.
Summer Main Dish Ideas
Easy to make ahead and slap on the grill come party time, these Yummy Honey Chicken Kabobs are real crowd-pleasers.
Find more top-rated BBQ & grilling recipes to choose from.
Summer Side Dish Ideas
You'll be the talk of the party when you show up with Mexican Corn on the Cob (Elote).
Get more ideas for summer's best side dishes.
Summer Salad Ideas
Serve up a big bowl of summer's favorite flavors in this Pesto Pasta Caprese Salad.
Find more crowd-pleasing summer salad recipes.
Summer Dessert Ideas
Be sure to save room for Chef John's Lemon Bars
Get more summer dessert recipes everyone will love.
Summer Drinks Ideas
Fun in the sun is thirsty work! Frosty pitchers of Easy Raspberry Lemonade make for easy serve-yourself refreshment.
Dive into our entire collection of refreshing summer drinks.
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