Despite the challenges of these times, we’ve all read the stories and seen the videos that celebrate our indomitable human spirit. People are coming to the aid of those they’ve never met; conferring the simplest acts of kindness that resonate so deeply.
For inspiration, look to the footage of places like Italy’s Napoli where neighbors gather on their balconies to sing or in New York City where they stand on fire escapes and hang out their windows every evening at 7 p.m. to applaud first responders and medical staff. These are the images that bring joy, and even hope.
You may not have a villa in Italy or a three-story walk-up in NYC, but you can bring your neighborhood together with a good old-fashioned block party. If you love having your own backyard pool and al fresco entertainment center, consider using your front yard to unite with your fellow homeowners.
In this era of social distancing, it may not be the same as the typical party where everyone mills about but coming together as a community is the kind of activity we can all use right now. Just a picnic table out front, some blankets on the lawn for the kids, and you can enjoy all the great recipes of the summer. More on the Best Backyard BBQ Recipes later!
How to Organize a Block Party
Just as many worthwhile efforts take a village, a successful block party takes a team. You may not need ten people, but there are some moving pieces so pulling together five people upon whom you can rely will alleviate the stress and allow for some great brainstorming!
- Point Person – The chairperson plans the meeting agenda and serves as the lead to facilitate whatever the committee resources require. You’ll want to promote the party via social or with flyers along the street. You’ll also want to post no parking signs a day or two before the event so the street is clear.
- Permits – One person can be designated to handle the paperwork. Because states and municipalities are different you can check first with your City or County Clerk’s office. (Ask if there are any complimentary extras that come with hosting a block party!) A few things about which to be prepared:
- When getting the consensus of the best dates, select one or two rain dates as they can be included on the initial permit request. This will save you time and money by not having to re-file.
- You’ll likely need a petition with the names of 75% of the residents agreeing to the gathering.
- Plan ahead as much as possible as sometimes an additional fee is tacked on if the event is less than 21 calendar days from the filing.
- Some areas require no application fee while others do request a nominal fee; usually under $200. If you have a block association you may have that money in the budget; or otherwise you’re probably looking at a $5-$10 donation from every household.
- Confirm what will be provided for that fee. Usually the city will at least offer wooden barricades to deter cars from coming down the street, while defining your party space!
- Verify if any other municipal offices need to be advised or require submission of paperwork.
- Food and Beverage – Because everyone will essentially be planning and preparing their own menu, there is not as much organization as usual that needs to go into the food and beverage preparation. While a social distancing block party will be a little different than the norm, you can still get creative. (Perhaps you can rent an ice cream truck that can visit every house!)
- Activities – You may need your most imaginative neighbor to devise some ideas for the kids.
- How about a chalk mural contest? Each child can create their artwork right in front of their own home and then later, everyone can take a safe-distance stroll along and cast their votes for the top honors.
- Perhaps a badminton net can be stretched across the street or a basketball competition staged to see how many baskets can be sunk out of ten tries.
- A dance contest is always fun! Give contestants 45 seconds to showcase their best moves!
- Have kids festoon their bicycles and they can ride down the street like floats in a parade.
- You can contact your local fire department to see if they’ll do a drive by and toss little bags of candy down to the kids.
- While face painting is usually a block party staple, to entertain the children, hire a clown or magician instead.
- It may sound geeky, but you can stage a sunset sing-along! After a couple beers, you may find you have some willing songsters who will happily join in after you distribute the lyrics to well-known party songs!
- Poll the neighbors and get their out-of-the-box ideas too.
- Clean-up – This may be a thankless job, but it is a key one. Drafting a crew to help police the area is something the authorities as well as the neighbors themselves will appreciate. Everyone of course is responsible for their own property, but if you’ve strung lights or tied balloons to the trees, you’ll want all restored to normal and ensure any recyclable items are disposed of properly.
Best Backyard BBQ Ideas
Besides good friends and great music, simple and delicious food is at the core of any successful event. You know you can confidently look to the Food Network for some savory delights to simmer on the grill!
What do you think about Chili-Glazed Pork Ribs? You probably already have most of the ingredients in stock like light brown sugar, ketchup, and Dijon mustard. With two racks of pork spareribs, some fresh thyme, cayenne pepper, and minced garlic, just add dashes of Worcestershire sauce and ancho chili powder and you’re ready to hit the heat!
After cooking on a preheated grill (low and slow!) for 2.5 hours, then you’ve got just another 40 minutes to spend glazing them with this delectable concoction.
If you don’t want to make this commitment to grillin’ and chillin’ then try these Sweet Tea Ribs with a side of Lemony Potato Salad. Roasted in the oven and coated with a black tea and citrus glaze it is the simplest of recipes, that features the accompaniment of a potato salad kicked up a notch with the zest of a fresh lemon.
Look no farther than Country Living to help spark even more inspiration with these 50 innovative BBQ Party Ideas and always to the Food Network for a host of the best BBQ recipes including delectable pulled pork sandwiches and even smoked pork loin chops drenched in Belgian Ale Marinade!
As home improvement financing solution experts since 1979, we know how enjoying your outdoor space is one of the best things about home ownership. That’s why Lyon Financial loves the difference we can make for your family by providing something that puts years of memories within reach. Call 877-754-5966 for more information. Happy Block Party!