Everyone loves going outside to enjoy the fresh air when the weather starts getting warmer, but why not add some fun and company to your outdoor plans for this spring and summer season? A cool way to do this is by hosting a block party!
Block parties originated in New York City during WWI as a way to honor the members of a block who had gone off to war. The block would be closed off to traffic, and those living on the block or in the neighborhood would come by to sing patriotic songs and have a parade.
Today, block parties consist of the people in the area coming together to hang out, eat delicious food, and enjoy fun games and activities with each other. Hosting a block party is one of the most fun and engaging ways to get to know your neighbors. To help with planning your block party, we have compiled a list of several block party ideas for decorations, games, and activities that will be a blast for all your neighbors and guests!
Planning a Block Party: Decorations
1. Flower Leis
Greet guests as if they were arriving in Hawaii! It’s easy to order inexpensive flower leis and allow guests to wear them around the party.
2. Luau Theme
Following that trend, find tropical-theme tablecloths, tropical-theme napkins, and tropical-theme plates with images such as pineapples, or exotic flowers. You can also easily find tropical-theme honeycomb centerpieces, toy ukuleles, and coconuts to place around the event space.
3. Tiki Torches
Purchase some inexpensive tiki torches to help create an enjoyable and relaxing tropical paradise atmosphere. If filled with citronella oil they can help keep the bugs away from your gathering as well.
4. Raft Drink Cooler
5. Fun Straw Hat Centerpieces
One easy and interactive centerpiece would be straw hats. Simply buy some straw hats for kids to decorate and voila – centerpieces! Use inexpensive sunglasses, flowers, or beads as decorations for the hats.
6. Fruit Bowls
For a luau theme, purchase some tropical fruit, such as mango, pineapple, bananas, etc. Arrange these in bowls on the tables and allow guests to snack on these delicious fruits during the party. If you prefer a traditional BBQ style theme, have seasonal fruit such as watermelon, strawberries, or cantaloupe.
7. Holiday Themed
If your block party is on a holiday, consider making the theme that holiday! If it is the Fourth of July, you could have red, white, and blue decorations along with American flags hung up.
Planning a Block Party: Games
8. Musical Charades
This game adds an exciting spin to the classic party game of musical chairs. Begin with a circle of chairs that face outward. The number of chairs set up should be one fewer than the number of participants. The players then walk around the circle until the music is turned off.
The player left without a chair picks out a random piece of paper, which has been labeled according to a category of your choosing, from a hat. That player must then act out whatever is written on the paper for the other players to guess. Continue the game by removing another chair from the circle and starting the music.
9. Dance Competition
The dance floor is the perfect place for some healthy competition and activities. Awarding prizes for the “most outrageous” or “best retro dance” will give your guests even more of an incentive to get down.
10. Chalk Art Contests
Assign each player their own plot of sidewalk and chalk. For the younger children, allow them to draw whatever they would like, but assign a theme for older children. Set up award ideas such as “most creative” and award prizes accordingly.
11. Hold Tricycle Races
Gather the neighborhood tricycles to organize races for different age groups. Let toddlers compete by tricycling straight to the finish line, but ask older kids to maneuver around pylons or hold timed relay races. For adults, create a whimsical obstacle course that requires competitors to ride tricycles around flags, under hurdles, and over small speed bumps, for example.
12. Treasure Hunt
Give each neighbor five shapes cut from construction paper that suit the theme of your block parties, such as suns for a summer gathering or flags for a Fourth of July party. Before the block party, ask them to hide the shapes where they’ll be visible from outside.
Be creative! Hang them from trees, stuck in windows, on mailboxes, or in flower beds. Set the kids loose with clipboards and pens and ask them to write the address and specific location of the shapes they find. Present prizes like school supplies, gift cards, candy, or movies to participants who spot the most.
13. Water Balloons
This will take some time and preparation, but water balloon activities can be fun for people of all ages. Have a water balloon fight, or play water balloon toss games (don’t let them hit the ground!). Make sure to have a lot of balloons prepared!
14. Balloon Relay
Divide the players into teams and then set up one half of the team across from the other half. Give each team a balloon. The first player must race it across the room without letting it touch the floor. The next player does the same. The winning team of the party is the first one to have all of its players complete the race without dropping the balloon.
15. Bean Relay
For this game, you will need empty egg cartons and beans (marbles or pebbles will also work). Divide the players into as many teams as there are egg cartons. Set up the egg cartons in a row on one side of the playing area. Set up piles of beans across from each carton.
The first player in each team must race to the pile of beans and place one per cup in their egg carton. The next player does the same. The winning team is the one that fills its carton the fastest.
16. Sock ‘Em
To play, you need many balled-up socks. Then divide the playing field in half and separate the guests into two teams, A and B. One side of the playing field is Team A’s backyard; the other side is Team B’s backyard. Players all get down on their hands and knees and on the signal, they have one minute to throw as many socks as they can into the other team’s yard. The team with the fewest socks in their backyard after one minute is the winner.
17. Dunk Tank
A dunk tank is always a crowd-pleaser, especially on a hot day. Adults can sit atop the chair inside the dunk tank and kids will have lots of fun trying to dunk them. Kids throw balls at the target, which, when hit, will release the chair and dunk whoever sits inside.
18. Party Tag
Unlike traditional games of tag, the power of being “it” isn’t transferred, it’s shared! The game begins with two players designated as “it” who must hold hands and chase after the others. Each player that is tagged joins the chain of taggers. If the chain becomes too long, the players can break into groups of two or four but not into groups with an odd number of players.
19. Sidewalk Pictionary
Don’t have a Pictionary board? Don’t fret! All you need is chalk and sidewalk to create your own! Divide the players into teams and then assign each team its own plot of ground. Give each team the same word or phrase. One person in each team will then use a piece of chalk to draw a picture that represents the word or phrase. The first team to guess correctly wins.
20. Bake Off
Have the bakers of the neighborhood challenge each other off to bake the best item with a set of ingredients. Get about 4 judges to taste and decide who will be the winner.
21. Let’s Limbo!
Find a long pole or stick. Decorate it with various colored streamers and use it as a limbo stick. Everyone loves limbo! Have a game for kids only and another game for adults only.
22. Tug of War
Divide the block into 2 teams, maybe left side of the street vs. right side, and see which team is strongest in the classic game of tug-o-war! Games like this bring out everyone’s competitive side!
23. Potato Sack Race
These races will get the crowd jumping! Each participant will put both of their legs in a sack or a pillowcase. This sack needs to reach their waist or higher. Everyone in the race will line up next to each other and jump forward and first to the finish line wins!
24. Sports Contest
Depending on what space and equipment is available for your block party, you could have a sports game. Football or basketball games will keep everyone entertained, either playing or watching. There could be teams such as boys vs. girls and parents vs. kids. The prizes could be first dibs to lunch or dinner or just bragging rights.
25. Bobbing for Apples
This game is a great way to cool down if it’s hot. What is needed is a large tub you can put water and apples in. Fill the tub to the top with water and place a few apples in it. The apples will float, and the player is tasked to try to get an apple out using only their mouth.
26. Cookie Decorating Contest
For this contest, have a spread of cookies and other decorations such as sprinkles and different colored frostings. You can have this split into a children and adult contest, so everything is judged fairly. Award ideas could be “most colorful” and “most creative”.
Planning a Block Party: Activities
It can be embarrassing to get up and sing in front of a group of people, but with the help of some outgoing people, block party karaoke is sure to be a hit! Make sure to get a cheap karaoke microphone and to have a sound system ready with some fun, family-friendly tracks to get everyone singing along!
28. Face Painting Station
Before the block party, ask around the neighborhood for some artistic teenagers or adults willing to take turns painting faces. Children will love wearing fun designs during the event. You can find face-painting supplies at your local arts and craft store.
29. Outdoor Family Movie
Keep the party going long into the night with an outdoor movie. Rent a projector from your library or from a tech equipment store. There are various ways to set up a screen; search online for the way that will best suit your event space. Let everyone bring their sleeping bags, pillows, and some popcorn to munch on. Turn on a film that is suitable for all ages.
30. Inflatable Houses
Rent an inflatable moon bounce, slide, or relay race. Let the kids release their sugar rush from all the good food at the block party inside the bounce house.
31. Kids Talent Show
Set up a small stage around for all to see and leave the rest up to the kids to show off their funny, crazy talents. Give all participants small prizes, such as candy or gift bags. It’s a show that’s sure to be fun for all!
32. Kids Bike Parade
Embrace the opportunity of not having cars constantly crossing the street- get the kids to decorate their bikes with balloons and streamers and host your own Bike Parade right in your own neighborhood.
The parents get to sit back and enjoy and the kids get to finally rule the street. This is a great outdoor block party activity idea to get the kids excited!
33. Bubbles in the Air
34. Fire Truck Visit
Several months before the block party, call your local fire department and ask if some firefighters can come for a short time and give a demonstration of the fire truck as well as a few fire safety tips. Kids will love exploring and learning about the fire truck. This is also a fantastic opportunity for some fun pictures!
35. Pet Parade
Bring all of your pets to the block party, dress them up and parade them down the street. For a little competition, have a panel of judges to award prizes for the “best behaved” or “cutest face” awards. Kids can get wild with ideas of how to make their pet the winner!
36. Food Sampling from Different Cultures
A way to get to know everyone better at the party is for everyone to bring a dish from their culture. This way everyone gets to try new food and has a chance to strike up new conversations with their neighbors.
If there is a firepit available this could be a way to warm up at night. Everyone could also enjoy making s’mores and roasting marshmallows around the fire.
Planning a block party isn’t that hard. You have rallied up the neighbors and are ready to throw a great block party. Make sure to include some of these fun, outdoor, and entertaining block party decorations and games to really get the entire neighborhood together for some big fun!
Written by Jessica Bundy, Amanda Darias, Rachel Word, and Jared Cruz
Edited by Marianne Vanderbeke and Colby Noble
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