Seems like more and more people are having stay-cations and keeping closer to hearth and home. So, wouldn't it be great to get to know your neighbors a little better? What better way than to have a block party? Autumn and Spring are the best times to do it, since you don't have to worry about blazing heat or snowy blizzards. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Recruit assistance from your closest friends in the neighborhood. Use bribery, if necessary.
Determine how many people are on your block. Count the houses, and don't leave out the grinch in the 3rd house from the corner, that person might just be your best participant. Include everyone.
Make up some really great flyers using MS Word, MS Publisher or similar program. Include the date and time (a couple of hours before dusk is usually good) and a short explanation of what this entails. At the bottom, place a line for the neighbor's name, address and e-mail, and a space for the neighbor to write in what food or drink that he/she will contribute. Don't forget to let them know how many people are getting these flyers, so they will know how much to provide. Ask the neighbor to please fill in the information if he/she would like to join the party and return the flyer, leaving it inside your door.
Distribute the flyers. Do this a couple of weeks in advance. Either ring doorbells or place a flyer in each door.
Once you have the flyers back from the neighbors, look them over to determine whether there are any alarming duplications. If 20 out of 30 people are churning ice cream, then you will want to visit some of them and ask them to consider something else. Suggest some things that no one is bringing.
A few days before the party, e-mail everyone to remind them of the party and what they are bringing. If you have time, sending a list of the participating houses and what each is providing would be good. Include any final instructions in this e-mail.
When the party starts, bring out the music and encourage the neighbors to do the same. A block party HAS to have music, and the more, the merrier. It's pretty cool to walk down the street, going from Mary J. Blige to the Beach Boys, then across the street to Carrie Underwood.
There's really nothing more to it. People walk down the street, stop and eat and talk to each other. Maybe there's a little dancing in the streets. The kids will be running everywhere. Clusters of men will form around the beer and football talk will reign. See how easy it is to meet and get to know your neighbors? These parties practically run themselves. Give it a shot, a little laughter and friendship can't hurt!
One warning: Automobile traffic is always a worry at block parties. Some parties will actually close down the street until the party is done, but you probably shouldn't try this on your maiden voyage. That grinch in the 3rd house down would inevitably come tootling along in her car and demand passage to her garage, creating an unwelcome chaos in the neighborhood. Closing down the street is usually done when block parties are established, annual events with 100% participation.
So, the advice here is to post signs at the entrances of the block, warning that a block party is in progress, and to please slow down and watch for children. Then each person should keep a close eye on everyone and all cars, and keep the kids out of the streets and on the lawns and sidewalks as much as possible.