Love a good party? Why limit yourself to a backyard barbecue? Throw a party on your block and invite the whole neighborhood for an unforgettable shindig—it’s a great way to meet the neighbors. From fun activities to fabulous platters of hors d’oeuvres and desserts, we’ve got a few ideas to make your bash the grand occasion that everyone within a couple blocks radius will want to be a part of!
A Few Ground Rules
For an event of such gargantuan proportions, you’ll need to cover a few bases before you deck out the cul-de-sac. Once you have everything planned and the items below checked off, time to partay!
Set a date! Reach out to neighbors to find the perfect day to throw an event that will allow them to come, as well as not interfere with already-made plans. Not everyone may be able to attend, but see if you can compromise on a date that works for almost everyone.
Contact town officials two weeks in advance to ensure road safety.The party area may have to be barricaded from incoming vehicles depending on location and time of day. Keep in mind that you may have to notify local businesses and other surrounding residents. Ask guests who are bringing food if a grill is required for cooking. Be aware that grilling on public property may or may not be allowed depending on city ordinances. You may also have to pay a permit. Check ocalafl.org for local information.
Consider putting in a request for special detail.For a bash on the block, you may want to put in an application to hire off- duty officers as a safety precaution. In the city of Ocala, it is $40 per hour per officer, with a three-hour minimum. Contact the Ocala Police Department two weeks in advance to put in a request (ocalapd.com).
Send out invitations. Try creating a Facebook page or Google group as well, and get that ball rolling!
With so much ground to cover and a flock of people to cater to, break out the band, ponies and party games! Show off your creative side with a party theme.
Blast From The Past
Play some far-out jams or have families choose a decade. It’ll be fun seeing how neighbors decorate their yards and dust off the old threads. One timeless playlist-must for this particular occasion: “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha & The Vandellas.
Grins & Ghouls
Bring the candy to trick-or-treaters by having neighbors dress up as their favorite monster or superhero. And may we suggest playing—at a forgivable volume—“Thriller”? Your dreams of being a part of a flash mob aren’t too far off.
A Fair To Remember
Make your block look like the annual carnival has dropped in by renting popcorn and cotton candy stands, pulling out the bean bag toss and putting your skills to the test with balloon animal kits.
Nice To Meet Ya!
Why resort to the very outdated Jello mold when it comes to welcoming newcomers to the community? A block party is a great chance to get to know new neighbors. Cue in fun games to bring out the inner child in all of you.
Pass Through The Hula Hoop
Participants: Two teams of at least eight people each
Equipment: Two hula hoops
Rules: Each team holds hands to form a chain. A hula hoop is passed from the beginning of the chain. Teammates must go through the hula hoop without letting go of their neighbors’ hands. Each person must answer three questions before stepping through the hula hoop. The object of the game is to learn about your neighbor and pass through the hula hoop, getting it to the end before the other team. Example questions: person’s name, favorite food, secret talent, book character they most identify with, favorite movie quote, etc.
The Suitcase Game
Participants: at least five players, plus one facilitator (optional)
Equipment: Pen and paper (optional)
Rules:Test your memory as this game makes the rounds! Have all players sit in a circle. The game begins with one player stating, “I pack my suitcase with…” The answer can be a favorite item or something funny. The next player starts with the same phrase along with the previous player’s answer and adds their own answer. The pattern continues until someone forgets the order or repeats an answer. The person who forgets is out. The game begins afresh when a person is out of the game. The player who remains, remembering every answer each round wins. You can keep track by having a nonplaying facilitator record answers on a piece of paper. Try specific themes for each round to mix it up, such as packing the suitcase with things players can’t live without, deserted island items, even movie stars!
Pennies From Heaven
Equipment: A jar/bowl/container and three or five pennies for each person, depending on how long you wish the game to last (you can also use marbles, candy or other small items)
Rules:Put those pennies to good use as you share what you have in common with your fellow neighbors. Have everyone sit in a circle (if the group is very large, make a bunch of circles), and place the jar in the center. Begin by having a player say something about themselves; for example: “My name is _______ and I have been on a Caribbean cruise.”If nobody else has this fact in common the player puts a penny in the jar. If someone else has this fact in common, that person (or persons) puts a penny into the jar while the player who stated the fact keeps his or her penny. As the game progresses with more sharing and penny dropping, the person who runs out of pennies first wins.
Participants: at least five people
Equipment: strips of paper, pens, a hat/jar/bowl and Scotch tape
Rules: Have each player write down a well-known person’s name on a slip of paper. Without revealing the names, have players fold and place the paper into the hat. Each player chooses a strip of paper and, without looking at it, uses the tape to stick it on their forehead so everyone else can see the name. Once all names are taped to foreheads, have everyone sit in a circle. Begin by having a person ask a yes-or-no question about who is on their forehead. The player may ask if the person is a man or woman, living or dead, has starred in movies, fought in a war, etc. Once the group answers yes or no to the player’s question, the next person asks either the same question or a different question to guess who is on their forehead. The game continues until everyone figures out their famous person.
Other Game Ideas
Oh, the merits of street chalk! Sketch life-size game boards on the concrete or a never-ending game of hopscotch! It’s fun for the kids, too!
When you’re familiar with the area, scavenger hunts can be loads of fun. Compile a list of items or sights on the block. Hand out copies of the list to teams of two or three, and have them scatter and snap photos of each listed item. The team that finds all items first (with photos as proof) is the winner.
Remember tug-o-war and potato sack racing on school field days? On a preferably grassy field, set up a relay games site. Make competition fierce by having a battle of the sexes or adults versus kids.
All You Can Eat
Set up your own spread or make a tasting buffet for neighbors to bite into, the choice is yours. As you plan your party, ask neighbors about food serving preferences. Families may want to make a bunch of hors d’oeuvres and mini desserts while grilling hotdogs or burgers for themselves.
Pigs in a Blanket
These classic piglets are always a party hit. On your buffet table, set up toothpicks and little ramekins of dipping sauces. Make a rainbow of ketchup, barbecue sauce, mustard and relish!
2 cans(8 ounces each) refrigerated crescent rolls
48 cocktail-size smoked link sausages or hot dogs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Unravel dough, and separate into triangles. Cut each triangle lengthwise into three narrow triangles. Place a sausage on the short side of a triangle, and roll up to opposite point. Continue with all sausages, placing rolled sausages on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until dough is golden brown.
Seven Layer Taco Dip
This colorful dip looks marvelous in a clear casserole dish or bowl and tastes excellent, too! Have baskets of nacho chips so neighbors can dig into this easy-to-assemble masterpiece.
2 cans chili (about 14 ounces each)
16 ozcream cheese
4 medium tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
3 cups sour cream
2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 cup kalamata olives, diced
Microwave chili and cream cheese together for one minute. Mix, and spoon into a 9×13-inch glass dish. Smooth out to make level. Layer lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream on top. Sprinkle on cheese. On top of cheese, sprinkle on olives.
Recipe adapted from littlehouseliving.com
Make dessert easy with a couple of these quick ideas.
Make a sundae station.Bring quarts of ice cream and set up bowls of sprinkles, cherries, candies and gummies for toppings. Don’t forget the chocolate syrup and whipped cream!
Sweet Dips.You don’t need a fondue kit to make a fondue station. Just set out a few bowls of caramel sauce, hot fudge, maple syrup and butterscotch syrup with cookie cutter pieces of pound cake and chunks of fruit. Use wooden skewers for spearing.
Call in an ice cream truck. As you plan your block party, consider contacting a local ice cream truck driver to park in the neighborhood. Nothing beats a Klondike bar and drumstick!
Entertainment for Hire
Games and food are definite winners for any party. But a block party is a canvas of possibilities! Imagine your cul-de-sac peppered with street entertainers, outdoor activities and a smorgasbord of fair food! Not sure where to look or who to contact in Ocala for block party entertainment? Click here!
Bounce with Us Concession Machine Rentals.A large selection of inflatables, games and concession machines awaits on this party rental website. Rent a cotton candy machine that serves 50 to 60 for up to six hours at $60, or rent a bounce castle for up to six hours at $140. ocalabouncehouse.com.
Gig Salad.Use this website to search for entertainers in the area. Here you’ll find local magicians, singers, face painters or costumed characters. Check entertainers’ profiles for rates. gigsalad.com.
Bruster’s Real Ice Cream. Treat the block to “cool decadence” by hiring Bruster’s for some ice cream catering. The ice cream shop offers pint parties, sundae bars and concessions as services. Bruster’s also offers Nathan’s Famous hot dogs! brustersicecream.com.