Block parties (or street parties as they’re sometimes known – we’ll use the phrases interchangeably) are a fantastic way to get to know your neighbours, form some bonds and give the kids reign of the street for an entire day!
How To Apply For A Block Party
Before we get onto the exciting bits, you will need to sit and have a think about some legal considerations. The party can only be for local residents (and only publicised to them), must be self-organised, and in a quiet residential road – so no parties on the motorway, sorry!
You will need to apply for permission, so get in touch with the council about 4-6 weeks before you want to throw your party. If you’re planning on closing the road, it can’t hurt to get in touch as many as 12 weeks in advance, but otherwise you can host what’s known as a Street Meet.
See the gov.uk guidelines for the full info and where to get your application form.
OKAY, on to the fun stuff!
How To Organise A Block Party
The first thing you’ll need to do is get your neighbourhood on board, and that starts with putting notes through doors. We’ve already made up a printable invitation in a few styles, so all you need to do is fill in the blanks. You’re aiming to tell them about the idea and ask for their opinion on the date and whether they’d be able to help.
If you have older residents on the street, why not knock on their door and have a chat? They might be more inclined to join in (and not raise any objections) if you talk to them directly about their concerns. The Street Party website has some great advice for making your street Age Friendly.
Set up a date for everyone who wants to be involved to get together. You’ll need help and possibly some donations, so make sure everyone feels heard. Have a chat about what kind of activities, food and drink you’ll want (more on those below)
At least a month before the party, hand out invitations and ask for any volunteers that you need. We’ve prepared another invitation for you that you can download here in red white and blue, bright summer colours or cupcake sprinkles, keeping the same theme as your previous notice.
Some things you might want to ask for:
- Chairs and tables
- A speaker system
- A clean-up crew
This is another great opportunity to talk to your neighbours directly – don’t just put an invitation through their door and walk away! After all, isn’t this all about encouraging community spirit?
The day before the party, put notes to put on cars asking people if they would kindly move their car for the next day. If you’ve done the rest right, nobody should be surprised at this request.
Street Party Food & Drink
It isn’t a street party – or street meet for that matter – without a little food and drink! You could have a BBQ, getting everyone to bring something for the grill, so long as you make sure to include some veggie, vegan and gluten free options. Alternatively, you could ask for donations and order in from a local cafe or takeaway, spreading the love even further in the community.
A great way to get all the neighbours involved is with a potluck picnic! Get everyone to bring something they’ve made themselves. The tricky bit here is organisation, as you don’t want to end up with just 20 sponge cakes. Make a sign-up sheet and get everyone to commit to what they’re bringing ahead of time.
Another very sweet option is to set up a tea party! This is great for all ages, and if you have the space you can spread out a bunch of picnic blankets (plus chairs for the older neighbours). A tea party can be as simple as buying in sandwiches and cakes.
One important thing to remember for street parties is that if you want to sell alcohol, you’ll need a license. However, donations towards a party and free alcohol does not. Just use your best judgement of whether that’s suitable!
Street Party Decorations
This is another area where you’ll really want some help or financial support. Decorations really make the party – after all, what’s a street party without a little bunting?
Choose whether you want to buy in supplies, make them yourself, or ask for donations from people’s personal supplies. Maybe a neighbour has some balloons left over from their last party, or a crafter can dig out some of their ribbon collection.
Garden chairs and tables are great, but if your neighbourhood is lacking you could ask a local school or community centre if they’d be able to loan you some.
Music & Entertainment
When thinking about fun things to do, consider who is on the street. Is it mostly families with young kids? How many elderly people are there? Who might not want to play with kids?
Most of these fun ideas are designed with kids in mind, but a few of them are great for grownups! Try to make the most of the talents that people on your street have – maybe one of your neighbours is a fantastic singer, or an expert face painter!
- Cupcake decorating
- Fancy dress parade
- Art with sidewalk chalk (make your own)
- Face painting – cute ideas here!
- Teddy Bear’s picnic
- Live performances from talented neighbours
- Pet parades
- Pinata smashes!
- Mask painting
- Toy swaps
- Flag making
Street Party Games
Most garden games are suitable for playing in the street, although we’d suggest staying away from anything too disruptive, such as football or water fights. Check out our list of 30 summer party games the whole family will enjoy for more inspiration!
- Junior golf
- Giant noughts and crosses
- A table for playing cards
- Stacking games
- Pin the tail on the donkey
- Treasure hunts
Finally, make sure you have a crew of volunteers to help with the clean up at the end of the party. You’ll need to make sure that everything on the street is spick and span for the next morning, when people might need to get to work or school.