How to Plan a Summer Block Party Your Whole Town Will Be Jealous Of

Throwing the biggest bash of the summer is so much easier than you thought, thanks to these block party ideas and tips.

When summer arrives, it’s time to celebrate! And there’s no better way to do so than with a block party full of food, neighbors and tons of fun. While throwing a party for your entire block might seem daunting at first, we have the guide to pulling it off without a hitch.

Organize ahead of time

Neighbours talk and eat around a table at a block party;Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

  • Remember that you’re not in this alone. A block party is meant to bring the neighborhood together, so make sure everyone gets involved by divvying up the responsibilities like getting the permit, setting up the blockages and clean up. It’s a good idea to make a master list of each household’s family name, address, phone number(s), how many people plan on coming and what task they’re in charge of. Honestly, it’s the best thing you can do when planning a block party.
  • At least two months before summer starts, get together with your block and decide which weekend the party will be on. Try to avoid weekends with major holidays, town events or preplanned vacations, if possible. You might also want to consider planning a rain-out date, whether it be the next day or a different weekend.
  • Don’t forget to get approval from your town. In most places, you’ll have to get a permit from your local government, whether it be a village president, mayor or alderman. While there may be a small fee associated with the application and permit, many towns and cities provide block parties with free barricades or trash and recycling receptacles. Some towns will even send a fire truck over for kids to interact with!
  • Spead the word! Double check that everyone on the block knows the date, start and end time of the party. Also, let neighbors know what time the street will close beforehand and where they can find parking if they normally do so on the street.

Plan the potluck

When it comes to feeding an entire block, a potluck is the way to go. Be the best neighbor on the block by serving one of these potluck favorites:

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  • To make sure there isn’t too much overlap in items, ask people to sign up for the items they’ll be serving. Sharing a Google Sheet is an easy way to get everyone on the same page about who is bringing what and how much.
  • A few weeks before the block party, you’ll want to decide with your fellow organizers if main dishes will be handled by each household individually or if a per-person fee will be charged and meat will be purchased in bulk. If the plan is to purchase and make the main dishes as a block, assign a point person to act as grill master and ensure they have plenty of propane or charcoal.
  • If mains are up to each family, slow cooker barbecue is the perfect hands-off option. That way, you don’t have to stand in front of a grill or oven waiting for the meat to be done and you can just switch the slow cooker to “warm” when it’s ready. One of these 30 slow cooker barbecue recipes would work perfectly in this traveling picnic-cooler-style slow cooker.
  • When deciding what apps and sides to serve, remember they’re likely going to be sitting outside for a few hours. So either avoid easily perishable foods and ingredients like mayonnaise or create an ice bath for the dishes with a disposable serving tray. Remember to replace the ice once it has melted.
  • Stick to recipes that are easy to throw together like these simple summer side dishes. And if you’re serving corn on the cobb, you’ve got to check out these crazy corn holders.
  • Don’t forget something sweet! These no-bake desserts will come in handy if it’s too hot to turn on your oven.
  • If you run out of cooler space, serve some beverages in an ice bucket that’s filled at least 25% with ice. Or, you can whip up one of these delectable non-alcoholic party drinks and serve them in a pitcher or dispenser.
  • Separate alcoholic drinks and soft drinks into their own containers and clearly label coolers that contain alcohol so there are no accidental mix-ups. You can even keep the adult beverages close at all times with this backpack cooler!

Gather supplies

For everything to run smoothly, there are a few things each home, and the block overall, needs.

  • For the food: Grab a folding table or two to lay your food out on and provide a serving utensil for each dish that requires one. Stick to disposable plates, napkins, utensils and cups so you don’t get stuck with washing a mountain of dishes at the end of the night.
  • For the beverages: Have enough coolers to house all of your beverages and plenty of ice. Speaking of ice, get at least 1 bag more than you think you’ll need. Summer days are hot and opening the cooler throughout the day will make the ice melt even faster.
  • For the trash: Keep at least one trash can and recycling receptacle on each lawn and switch out the bags when they’re full. This will help keep the street clean and make the clean-up effort a breeze.
  • For comfort: Pull out your patio or folding camping chairs for easy seating. If there are very young children or a few elderly neighbors on your block, it might be worth setting up a party tent to provide some shade.
  • For yourself: If you’re going to be outside all day don’t forget about sunblock! Also, pick up some bug spray and citronella candles if the party is going to extend into the night.

Choose the entertainment

Pump up the fun with some awesome summer activities.

  • Play some tunes with a block-loud speaker or two. Queue up a summer-themed preset playlist from Pandora or Spotify, or have each house be in charge of the music for an hour.
  • Organize a few outdoor games like a bag toss tournament, horseshoes and bocce ball.
  • Let the kids splash around with some water activities like a sprinkler, Super Soakers or water balloons. If a house on the block has a pool, plan with neighbors for at least one adult to supervise at a time.
  • Keep the party going all night long with a bonfire complete with s’mores and ghost stories.
  • Inquire if your town allows fireworks to end the party with a bang. If not, go with some fiber optic sparklers or glow sticks.

Take down and clean up

When the party is over, there’s still some work to be done.

  • Plan on setting a time to clean up. Whether it’s the night of or the next morning, cleaning at the same time ensures no one has to do more than their fair share.
  • Remember you’re cleaning the block, not just your front yard. That means clearing out any loose trash, the barricades at the end of the block and any other miscellaneous items that are left out.

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Caroline Stanko
As an Associate Digital Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.