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 in case you want to organize your own block party:
1. Choose a date with a few other neighbors.
2. Check with the city about any needed permits. It’s also worth asking about getting barricades for your block (our city requires a petition signed by 50% of the block).
3. Send out flyers announcing the event.
4. Arrange food (pot lucks are easiest, but local food trucks are also a good option).
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 is the activities.
Here are 10 great things to do at your block party, most of them culled from our neighborhood’s past block parties.
Make Your Block Party the Best Party
1. Organize a 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. Set up a bike decorating station at one end of the block, with streamers and balloons. Once all the kids have their bikes and trikes and Big Wheels bedazzled, have a Bike Parade down the blocked off street.
2. Invite the police and firefighters.
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. You can also call your local fire station and see about having them bring a truck by for the kids to explore.
3. Establish a group grilling area.
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. 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.
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.