10 Great Activities For Your Block Party
It’s Block Party season across suburban America. Although, those of you in bigger cities, do you have block parties or are those called “Street Fairs”? My neighborhood is kind of known for the activities they put together. “Happy Hour(s) Fridays” throughout the summer, “Pancake Breakfast” for the Fourth of July, “Group Grilling” events….
If you don’t want to know your neighbors, I’m going to recommend you don’t move here. However, if you’d like a chance to meet your neighbors, build a community on your block, or you just want an excuse to keep people from speeding down your cut-through street for a few hours this summer, a block party is a great idea.
This post isn’t exactly a “How-To” but here’s a quick run down:
1- choose a date with a few other neighbors,
2- send out flyers announcing the event,
3- check with the city about getting barricades for your block (our city requires a petition signed by 50% of the block).
4- you’ll also need to arrange for food (pot lucks are easiest),
5- arrange for tables
6- plan decorations
If you’re like me, the decorations are the most important part of the party. If you’re a kid, the most important part of the party are the activities.
Here are 10 great things to do at your block party, most of them culled from our neighborhood’s past block parties.
1. Bike Parade
It’s not everyday you’re allowed to cross the street without looking back and forth two or three times. It’s also not often that your parents don’t yell at you for playing in the street. To get the party going, relish the car-free status of your block by having the kids decorate their bikes with streamers and balloons and then make parade of kids right in the middle of the street. Adults watch and older kids help the younger ones.
2. Motorcycle Police Officer Visit
Our city is not particularly crime-ridden, so whenever a block asks for a barricade for a party, a motorcycle police officer makes an appearance during the event. The kids get to look at the motorcycle up close, and if you have a nice police officer, he or she will let the kids sit on the bike. The kids love this and, if we’re being honest, so do I, if the officer happens to be a man. I have a cliched thing about men in uniform.
3. Group Grilling
This year my husband got a grill as a Father’s Day gift. When I asked him what he wanted he said “A grill, so I’m not humiliated at the block party this year.” When it’s time to cook food, every one brings their grills out to the street and 8-10 people get all the hot dogs and burgers cooked for everyone in the neighborhood. This may not be the kid’s favorite activity, but I think a few dad’s have had the “Suburban Kool Aid” and love to grill with other guys.
4. Silly String Fights
You’re going to need to buy this stuff in bulk, you can find it many places online for about $1 a can. Little kids love to spray it all over, older kids love spraying each other and, at least where I live, the temptation is too great for the adults too. Be warned, it makes a huge mess but whatever it’s summer.
5. Bubble Battle
Bubbles are always a hit with kids but for this activity, everyone is going to blow bubbles all at once until the entire street is full of bubbles floating through the air. Supply bubbles and regular wands and have all the neighbors bring any special bubble wands and devices they might have. *Photo from Flickr User ScienceDuck.
6. Water Balloon Toss/Fight
This is a pretty self explanatory activity, but have you seen these water balloon filling valves? They’re the perfect size to fit into the neck of a balloon and they have a valve so you can turn off the water without having to stand over the faucet. Make as many as you can stand to make without losing your mind and then make 75 more. Believe me you’ll need them.
7. Kid’s talent show
The neighborhood kids like to show off their talents at most of our neighborhood parties. Some of the “talents” are, well, rough, but it’s still fun for the kids to perform for an audience. This year I’m trying to get my husband to break the kids-only rule and participate. He can juggle like you would not believe.
8. Men’s Bake Off
It’s good fun to watch a bunch of guys fretting over their pecan oatmeal bars or trying to sabotage somebody’s souffle. Our block party includes a bake off where the required ingredient is chosen by last year’s winner of the Golden Spoon. Last year it was sweet potato and, after a lot of test batches, my husband took home the Spoon. He’ll carve his name in it, it dates back to the early 90’s, and pick the required ingredient for this year. Four or five judges do a secret testing and the winner is chosen.
9. Kid’s Bake Off
A kid’s bake off is great fun for them too. It’s the same set up with a required ingredient chosen by the previous winner and four or five judges choosing the winner. Some of the creations are….a little terrifying to eat…but kids love it. My kids mostly like taste testing as they create, ending up with a sugar rush.
10. Outdoor Movie!
When it starts to get dark out it’s fun to set the kids up in the yard with blankets, sleeping bags and popcorn for an outdoor movie. Parent Hacks shares a “How To” make an outdoor movie screen. You’ll need a projector (you can rent one or check them out from your library) This is a great end of the evening activity and allows you to keep the party going a little later even with little kids.
Our block party is coming on July 26th. I’ll be sure to share pictures and decorating tips then.