Want to help create a sense of community in your neighborhood? Follow Domestic CEO's eight steps to host a neighborhood block party.
My husband and I built a house about eight years ago in a suburban neighborhood. The house is on your typical suburban cul-du-sac, with sidewalks that lead straight into front doors, driveways that lead straight into garages, and block walls that surround big backyards. While this type of neighborhood is great for keeping things looking pristine, it comes at a cost because no one hangs out in the front yards. If you live in a neighborhood like this, there’s a good chance you can count on your fingers and toes the number of times you talk to your neighbors in a year. The neighborhood isn’t set up to facilitate interactions, so the neighbors need to take it upon themselves to meet and greet each other.
One way you can do this is through a neighborhood block party. This gathering is a great way to get a whole bunch of your neighbors together all at once. During that time, the goal is to let everyone meet, learn more about each other, and hopefully even figure out a few neighborhood issues. There’s a sense of bonding that happens when you break bread with others, so if you want to help create more sense of community in your neighborhood, follow these eight steps and throw a neighborhood block party of your own!
Step #1: Gather a Couple Coplanners
Once you’ve decided to plan a neighborhood get-together, ask a couple neighbors to help you plan the shindig. You may or may not actually need their help to do the logistical planning, but by getting a few others involved, you’ll immediately get more buy-in from the neighborhood. You probably know a couple neighbors better than others, so wrangle them in to your plan. Hopefully if you all talk about the party with the neighbors you each know, soon there will be an excited buzz in the community about the event.
Step #2: Pick a Date
The next step to throwing a neighborhood party is to pick a date for the event. When you are determining the date of any party, it’s always good to look at a calendar and avoid any national or religious holidays. The last thing you want it to get your entire party planned, only to have people start sending in their “No” RSVPs because you scheduled the party for Labor Day Weekend and everyone is taking one last camping trip. To increase the chances of people being able to come to a party, I’ve found it’s often best to pick a very obscure weekend, or one that directly precedes or follows a holiday weekend.
This is also the step to figure out what time you want to hold your party. Do you want to do a morning brunch, an afternoon of games, or an evening open house? If you have a neighborhood full of kids, it’s often better to pick a weekend afternoon to avoid all the morning sports and activities that kids are involved in. If you have mostly adults in your neighborhood, you may want to choose an early evening event because less people will have to get babysitters. Remember that you’re never going to please everyone with your choice of time, but the goal is to accommodate the most amount of people possible with this event.
Step #3: Pick a Location
This step has to happen almost simultaneously with picking the date because you need to make sure that the location you want to hold the party is available on the date you pick. If you pick a great date, but then find out that the location you want to have the party is unavailable, you have to start all over. Also, when you are picking a location, make sure to check to make sure you are following your community and city rules. Your neighborhood association may require paperwork be filed to hold an event in any of the green spaces within the community, and your city may require a permit be filed if you are going to use a city park space or block off part of a street. Make sure you have asked all the permissions you need so your party doesn’t get shut down or fined.
Step #4: Create Invitations
Once you have your date, time, and location, it’s time to start inviting the neighbors. A community email list is the easiest way to invite everyone, but if you don’t have one created yet, there are a few other options to reach the maximum number of people. Our neighborhood has community mailboxes, which are a great place to post signs about upcoming neighborhood events. If you choose this option, use a plastic sheet cover to protect the paper announcement, otherwise with the first rain, your invitation will be smeared.
You can also invest a little time into creating posterboard signs to display at the entrances of your neighborhood. Think yard sale signs, but these will have a simple message of the name of the event, date, time, and location. These signs will hopefully get people talking and direct them to a person who can give them more information. You can also go door to door and leave flyers with your neighbors. If no one answers the door, leave the flyer in a place where your neighbors can easily find it when they come home.
However you decide to invite your neighbors, make sure to include the following information on the invitations:
· Date, time, location
· What will be provided by the hosts
· What each person needs to bring
· Contact info in case of questions and to RSVP, if you want them to RSVP