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How to Organize A Block Party

Neighborhood Block Parties are a great way to meet your neighbors, enhance community spirit and build neighborhood unity. Although putting a Block Party together doesn't need to be difficult, it will definitely be more successful with a little careful planning, a lot of neighborhood support and the sharing of organizational responsibilities.

1. Plan the Event.

Your Block Party will be much more successful if you involve others in planning the event. Host a small planning party and invite a wide variety of your neighbors - including those you don't know - to form a Block Party committee. Delegate tasks according to each person's strengths.

The planning committee’s first task should be to pick a location, date and time for the event. Typically, block parties are held on a street or cul-de-sac but you might also choose to use a centrally located park or school yard, if you can obtain permission. Schedule the event approximately 4 to 6 weeks in advance. Limiting your event to a 3 to 4 hours time span insures that you will have a more concentrated group of attendees. Plan events for midday in the spring and fall, but wait until evening in the hotter summer months.

Decide how you will fund the event, and assign a member of your committee to act as Treasurer. Regardless of how you fund the party, make certain the treasurer keeps good track of what money is put into the fund and what it is spent on. Left over funds can be saved for next year’s Block Party! Your group may decide to take up a collection for funds from among neighbors, or to take contributions in the form of donated food, services, equipment, etc. You may also solicit local businesses to contribute food, drinks and supplies.

When the balloons are brought down and the barbecues are restored to their back yards, sit down with the planning committee and evaluate the event so that next time you’ll remember what not to do and what to be sure to do again.

2. Making it Legal.

If you plan to close off a portion of your street or cul-de-sac, you will have to apply for a permit from the Beaumont Police Department – Traffic Division. You must give at least 20 days notice to block off a street. You can contact the Traffic Division at (409) 833-3271.

Making the event a pleasant experience for participants, as well as those who chose not to attend, will not only make your event a success, but may encourage more folks to participate the next time. Be courteous to all of your neighbors by not blocking driveways and by turning down music and lights after 9:00 p.m. Make certain that your committee assigns a clean up crew to pick up all remnants of the fun day – you might even make a game out of picking up by giving rewards to children who bring in the most trash.

3. Getting People There.

Assign members of your planning committee to design and distribute invitations 3 to 4 weeks in advance of the event. Going door-to-door with the invitations adds a personal touch that will help you get more people interested in volunteering for and attending the event. Keep the invitation simple, and remember to include contact names and phone numbers for R.S.V.P.'s and for signing up to bring food or coordinate activities. Let people know if they need to bring their own cooler of beverages, or their own chairs and beach towels.

You may want to place a short reminder notice on doorknobs one week before the Block Party, or, if you want to get notice out earlier than when invitations are ready, use your neighborhood newsletter or dues mailing to ask people to “Save the Date.”

4. Feeding Your Guests.

Food is an absolute "MUST" for any large gathering of people. The planning committee should decide how to organize the party food. You may decide to ask people to bring picnic baskets to share with other families; organize a Pot Luck and have people bring foods from different categories (remember that plates, utensils, napkins and drinks should all be categories); plan a "community menu" and assign households to bring specific dishes or beverages; or look into catering the meal. Other creative options include holding a chili or barbeque cook-off, and having kids award prizes to their favorites.

Whatever you do, keep track of how many people will be coming to the event, and stay organized by keeping a list of who’s bringing what to the party.

5. Keeping People There - Planning Activities.

Again, a little advanced planning goes a long way, especially when coordinating activities for your participants. Whatever you plan, the following pointers will guarantee fun for everyone:

  • Plan activities that will get a wide range of neighbors involved – kids, adults, men and women alike.
  • Encourage older kids to help organize games for younger children.
  • Choose games that involve teams and/or groups of people such as sack races, the orange pass, tug of war, relays, water balloon tosses, or watermelon eating contests.
  • Don’t over-plan. Use games to get people involved in the early stages of the Block Party and during down times to encourage people to stay. Give folks the opportunity to relax and talk as well.
  • Organize on-going activities to keep younger children busy, such as chalk drawing on the sidewalks, finger painting, kite flying, etc.
  • Regardless of what you plan for your Block Party, getting a wide variety of people involved in the planning, staying organized, and keeping an open mind will help make the event successful. Remember, it doesn’t take a hundred people or even fifty to have a successful event. If your neighbors meet a few new families and get to know each other a little better, you’re already beginning to enhance your community. Make the event a positive experience for the entire neighborhood, and you’ll be sure to attract even more folks the next time around!