Lost Art of Relationships – Neighborhood/Block Party

Block Party
Block Party

Grab the kiddos, get the neighbors and Let’s get this party STARTED!!!

There are so many reasons WHY it IS important to HAVE a neighborhood – block party!
In days gone-by, it was vital to know your neighbors, but now it isn’t uncommon for people to move in and out, live in an area for an extended period    of time and not even know the names of people who live next door or a few houses down.

    I want to give a HUGE shout-out to my neighbors for allowing me to share our block party with YOU!  Scroll to the bottom of this post to see pictures from our awesome FUN block party.





I realize that there are so many things that fight for our time and our energy, so why am I suggesting that we spend some of our precious resources to have a block party, possibly for people we don’t even know?  Will they even care?  What will they think of a stranger knocking on their door with a flier inviting them to a party???  I believe this is a very important topic in the Lost Art of Relationship series for several reasons, but lets look at a few:

(Pictures from our block party are after this handy information, so make sure to scroll down)

What are the advantages?
• Children know who to turn to for safety and help
• A community that is concerned about each other will have less crime and problems
• A cohesive neighborhood offers a sense of belonging and unity

I have LOTS of helps, tips and information for you, plus tons of fun pictures.  Do NOT let this throw you off, it’s simply so you can take what you want and toss the rest.  Do NOT be overwhelmed, get with your neighbors, and celebrate being part of a neighborhood!

So, now that we can see there IS a purpose to a block-neighborhood party

Where do I start?
• This can be done on a large scale and involve the entire neighborhood, or just your block.
• If the entire neighborhood, then you will need to organize committees and distribute the assignments for location, permits if needed, food, publicity, invitations and so forth.
If this is for your block or so, then you and a few others can easily handle putting it together.

I began by putting together a flier with 2-3 dates I knew we could be in charge of this event, times and suggestions of activities we might want to choose from for a block party.  I also listed my name and contact information so everyone could easily get hold of me.  Stan and I walked them to each door, introduced ourselves to those who were new and invited them to the party, explained these were ideas and to let me know if they would be willing to take on an assignment of a game, supply (such as paper products, etc), and if there was a better date from those we were looking at listed on the paper.

Let’s start this Party!

Planning:
Involve everyone in your block, or the area you are covering in your party. Excluding people will immediately foster bad feelings and discount the reason for the party in the first place.

Put together a committee of assignments.

The more the merrier and if people are involved they tend to come as they have ownership.  Send out an initial flier announcing there will be a block-neighborhood party to all houses included, with a time and place for a meeting to form committees, giving everyone a chance to be as involved as they would like.  Make sure to include a contact number just in case they are unable to make the meeting they can still help out.

Pick a date.

Facebook saved me here. I got on and had 2-3 dates in mind that I was able to be at and then narrowed it down from there with my neighbors on FB, as well as going from talking to the new neighbors we met when delivering the first flier.

Pick a location.  Make arrangements for a location for your party and be sure to check with local authorities if you will be in the way of local traffic in any way. Check with your city to see if a permit is necessary to block off a portion of your street.  Make sure there is an open restroom if it is at a park or somewhere not by each person’s home.  Shade tents, or back up plan for rain.

We live in a cul-de-sac so it was very easy to block off.  We asked that everyone please be aware to park out of the circle if arriving after the party started to avoid any dangerous situations with small children.

Time/When. Be courteous and do not plan loud music and if you are to have a movie on a garage door, or outdoor screen that is so popular now, be sure to check with all of your neighbors for permission to have any loud noise after 9pm as a common courtesy.

We began at 6pm and planned to end by 8, but some stayed around to visit till dark – pretty cool!  We ate first, let everyone play the games out, then had the donut eating contest and ended with the Cheese Head game.

Invitation. Send out a flier or invitation at least 3-4 weeks prior and then a follow up one every week after that so your neighbor.  You can also put up posters to generate excitement.   One or two reminders delivered to each house involved the week before the party AFTER the initial flier/announcement is BEST.

                     1- Have yours, or someone who is in charge, contact information so everyone can easily access the contact person
                     2-  Know it is still happening
                     3- Remember their assignments, chairs to sit on, food/other assignments,
                     4- Keep the excitement going – attach to a helium balloon if possible to impress the celebration and FUN the party will be

We included the houses in our cul-de-sac, the grown adults of those still living in the cul-de-sac and also immediate family – such as parents.  For example, my 5 adult kids and their families were invited, my neighbor’s 3 adult kids and their families were invited and so on.  I believe that all the grown kids, except 2 (and those out of state) came back for the party!!!




Food.

  •        Decide how to handle the food. It can be bring your own picnic, or a community grill and bring your own meat to cook.   —- Possibly assign even house numbers salads and odd numbers desserts, or whatever works best for your situation. Food —–is a MUST!!!
  •        It is a good idea to discuss if alcohol will be allowed.  We wanted to keep ours family-friendly, so only soda pop and water were the beverages allowed.
  •        Set up long tables for the food, arranging a central area for eating.
  •        Have seating in a central area if possible so people will talk and get to know each other.

We decided to have a community grill and everyone bring their own meat.  All brought a salad or side dish to share and a plate of cookies.  Ken and Linda volunteered to bring their yummy homemade ice cream for everyone!

 

Activities to keep them there and having FUN. Having something to do is a must.
• Plan things that all people can do, women, men children, all ages and abilities
• Activities/Games that can be individual but involve everyone is fun for all to watch
• Team Races/Activities are terrific to involve all the participants
• Choose events that take a bit of the time, but leave plenty of opportunity for everyone to visit and get to know each other.

  • This could also be an opportunity to have a neighborhood clean-up at the beginning of the party, or even a tree/flower planting or beautification project going on too.
  • It could be an historical party to celebrate the history of your neighborhood OR have a map and pin where people in your neighborhood are from originally/heritage

Activity Ideas from evite –

  • Host a talent show, using someone’s porch as a stage. If you plan to include amplified music, check with your township or public works office, since you may need a permit for that even if it’s on private property.
  • Rent a karaoke machine.
  • Set up a treasure hunt
  • Play volleyball, kickball or street hockey (if your street will be closed).
  • Designate an area for playing cards or chess.
  • Host a limbo or dance contest.
  • Have a pet parade.

Fun for Kids Ideas

  • Have a bubblegum bubble-blowing contest or sidewalk chalk drawing contest.
  • Hang a piñata.
  • Ask a few teens or adults to take turns painting faces.
  • Get a three-legged race or tug of war going.
  • Have a water balloon toss.
  • Rent a jump house.
  • Play hide-and-seek.

We were operating on a shoestring, so I chose the donut eating on the string contest with 3 levels and the cheese head toss as ALL ages and abilities could play. You will see these below in the pictures with instructions.

Pre-party set up –

1 Have your assignments in place at least a week before WITH a back-up plan and remember none of this is life or death.  It’s just a fun party, so do NOT sweat the small stuff. 

2- Over assign a bit on the food just in case someone falls through, you’re covered.

3- Have a back-up easy plan for games or activities IF you need them such as sidewalk chalk (click HERE for Hopscotch), bubbles (click HERE for amazing homemade huge bubbles), a few cans and bean bags for toss games or a game of kick the can (click HERE for the game).

4- Layout the party BEFORE hand so you have an idea of where to put games, activities, food, etc.  You don’t want the balloon toss right over the picnic tables!

This is how it worked for our party: the final assignments were either volunteered, or I asked for when the time approached and I needed filled.

        *I asked one family to be in charge of the food tables, they also took on the name tags- thanks Stacy & Cindy, it was fabulous and set the theme for the entire party that day!
        *One family volunteered to be charge of the community grills and helped – thanks Bryce & Virginia!
        *One family volunteered and  built the ‘Corn Hole’ game just for this – thanks Barry & family!
        *My dil and son made the kids ‘Bean Bag Toss’ game and helped – thanks Ashley & Devin!
        *Derek, my oldest son mc’d for me- thank’s kid!
        *Stan had music playing into the circle and had his Spin Art machine out he build for the kids as well as a million other things to help me.
        *Brian & Sheila brought supplies for games and helped– thanks!
       * Michal and Jessica brought paper products and helped – thanks!
       * My daughters Delsi and Danitra and my sister Jody were involved in setting up and helping tons – thanks a billion!
       *And other neighbors brought paper products, soda pop and other needed supplies and helped – thank you!




 Social Media. 

This is a part of our society these days however some people prefer not to participate, RESPECT this.  It may be ‘normal’ to snap pictures and post to Facebook or twitter, or anywhere else while having fun, but do not include ANYONE without asking their permission.  This includes your neighborhood block party – and their children.

I asked my neighbors ahead of time how they felt about being in pictures on my blog, or on facebook since I knew I would be sharing this with you.  There were many more people at our block party, however, I used caution when posting pictures so as not to infringe on their desire not to be a part of social media.

The Event. Have name tags out.

Not everyone will wear them, but the purpose is for people to get to know each other and it is very ackward to continually ask people their name; particularly if you are like me and can’t seem to remember a name for more than 5 minutes…..

Ask people to help clean up DURING and AFTER the party so you are not alone with the mess.

My neighbors are so amazing, that as I was visiting after the games and and dinner was over (I had been so busy ‘running’ things that I hadn’t been able to chat much) that I realized as I grabbed a broom my neighbors had already started cleaning up and had it almost all done!!!  They are really the BEST!

****It’s a good idea to ask more outgoing people who will be there ahead of time to filter about and chat with those who come to the party, making everyone feel comfortable and glad they came to the party. You will be busy and may not be able to do this all by yourself.

Again a huge thank you to my awesome neighbors for allowing me to show you our FUN party so you can see how easy and amazing to now have your own!

Stacy and Cindy set up the food on tables in a central location to encourage everyone to meet and mingle.  The decorations really set the mood for celebration because people knew right from the start that this party was important enough that people had taken the time to put effort into makingBlock Party 1

Block Party 3Stacy made name tags and had sharpies out that coordinated with her theme on the tablescape.  There were 5-6 tables in all.Block Party 5

Block Party 4

Block Party 10

Stacy and Cindy used the nautical theme because they LOVE the ocean and since we are in the desert, we all loved the idea too.We had out sidewalk chalk, the kids had their bikes and riding things out. It was simple, yet everyone seemed happy to visit and the kiddos were busy and NO technology games were out!

For the kids, Ashley covered a box that had holes cut out with wrapping paper and decorated duct tape (both inexpensive from the dollar store) and had bean bags from another game she brought for the game.  The little kids played it correctly.  You can see the older kids waxed creative, and had a blast!  The simple things usually entertain the best.

Block Party 7Stan built a Spin Art machine he brought out for the kids to make their own art project.Block Party 11

 DONUT EATING CONTEST

Supplies:  Waxed string that will easily thread through a donut, donuts, ladder or something sturdy to attach the string to

Now for the donut eating contest.  THANKS to everyone who helped me set this up, including the ladders.  We set up the ladders about 10 feet apart. Then strung mini donuts (the chocolate ones worked the best, the powdered white seemed to break easier BUT make sure to have some for those who cannot have chocolate!).

We threaded donuts through one line and tied it about 2 feet off the ground.

We then strung another line of mini donuts about 3 1/2 – 4 feet off the ground.

Lastly, strung large donuts about 5 feet off the ground.

As we were doing this, the weight took over and we had a few very kind people who stood on the ladders to hold them down while the event took place.   SO, have weights ready, or warm bodies who do not mind missing the donut eating.  Just before the game began.   Notice the waiting anxious kiddos, lol.Block Party 12

When all the donuts are strung and ready then it’s time to play.   We started with the littlest ones first.

On your mark…..Block Party 13Get Set….Block Party 15Go!Block Party 14Yummy!!!Block Party 16Next it was the bigger kids turn – Ready…Block Party 17And EAT – wait – NO hands!Block Party 18 The adults were not to be out done!Block Party 31

Cheese Head Game

Supplies:  Shower caps

 shaving cream

cheese balls 

The other game was also for everyone.  First teams were chosen.  We asked anyone who wanted to play to bring a chair and their partner to stand behind them so we could see that everyone had a teammate.  We did have young kids, so we put 2 on one chair and they were one, with one adult as their team mate. 

The person sitting on the chair then donned a shower cap (collect these from someone who stays at hotels frequently, or get them from the dollar store – usually 8 in a package).

Then, using a can of shaving cream (also from the dollar store, usually 1 can will do 6-8 heads) generously cover the shower cap.Block Party 32Block Party 22Meanwhile, have people ready to divide up the cheese balls into grocery bags, or bowls (thank you Ashley, Jessica and all who helped me with this game)

The team members who are not seated, are lined up away from those seated, about 4-5 feet back and given the bag or bowl of cheese balls.Block Party 23Then the signal is given to go, and the contest begins to see how many cheese balls the team member can toss into the shaving cream of their teammate!Block Party 24

Block Party 35Pretty Competitive!Block Party 33“I managed to catch a dollop of shaving cream dropping in mid air!”Block Party 26

They had a GREAT time with this game! 

Posing for me after all the cheese balls were tossed.  Block Party 27It’s important to have an MC to keep things going, so people can hear when the games are beginning, when food is ready, etc. 

A HUGE thank you to  my son Derek for doing this for me, even though you couldn’t resist teasing your sis…with a megaphone no less,  lolBlock Party 30It was a GREAT party. I’m so grateful for my family, and neighbors, and everyone was so helpful to make it such a success!!!

Block Party 25Block Party 28

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Block Parrty 35Block Party 36

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2015

Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today

 

Comments

  1. We were contemplating one for our block this year, but it didn’t happen. Maybe next year though, especially now after reading all your advice and tips here. Thanks Carrie seriously for sharing and pinned to refer back to ;)

  2. Carrie,

    This looks like so much fun. I love the doughnut game and the shaving cream cheeseball game. What great pictures. Everyone looks like they were having a ball. You are such a great event planner. You should have done that for a living. Your details and ideas are extremely good.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Diane

  3. Aww man!!! I missed all of the fun!!! Carrie this really look awesome and loads of fun! What a wonderful neighbor you are. You guys do this every year? Of course, I got bloated just looking at those yummy donuts!!

  4. Wow, very comprehensive post. I agree – a block party is a really great thing to do in the neighborhood. You can spend years in an area without really getting to know the neighbors, but it’s amazing how much more fun and comfortable a neighborhood becomes when you make an effort to foster friendships. And I second the motion of making sure you have activities. One of my biggest pet peeves is a party where the kids have nothing to do and end up running around and screaming because that seems to be default mode in large groups.

    I am co-hosting the #HomeMattersParty link party this month and would love to have you stop by for a visit. The next party opens on Friday. http://www.alaynascreations.co

  5. The donut eating game looks like so much fun! What a blast! We live in an apartment building, not a neighborhood, but we know a pretty significant number of families who share our building–not everyone, though, I think there are 300 units in our building!

  6. This looks like so much fun! You are quite the planner! :) You are also right that so many communities do not do this often enough. We have had all of the families on our street over twice in 8 years — not a good track record, but no one else has done it at all. I am in the process of planning a very casual block party just to get everyone together again. Thanks for the inspiration! #create&share

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