Finding the perfect apartment is no easy task (unless you use Rent.com), but you’ve done it! Congrats. Next step: Find friends. After all, you need someone to rely on when you accidentally lock yourself out of your apartment.
But learning how to make friends in a new neighborhood can be tricky. Instead of throwing an apartment warming party, consider organizing a summer block party! This way, you can get to know all your neighbors in one fun setting.
Back when I was in elementary school and attended my neighborhood block party, we rocked out to a few “Now That’s What I Call Music!” CDs and ate some burgers. I promise yours won’t be as lame. Here’s how to plan the perfect block party and get to know your neighbors:
Check in With City Hall
Block parties can tend to get noisy, so it’s best to check in with your city hall to obtain any permits you might need. City hall may be able to help you block off the street so you can mingle and eat without having to worry about cars coming through. You should also ask about what is and isn’t allowed to avoid facing any potential fines.
Choose a Location
The party will be on your block, but where exactly? Everyone should know where to gather, otherwise people will just awkwardly be hanging outside of their apartments wondering where the party is.
The best location for the party is right in the middle of the block. That way, the bash is easily accessible for everyone. However, if you prefer to host the party in front of your apartment, that works too.
Plan For Fun Activities
Not everyone on the block knows one another, so some ice breaker activities are a must. Consider setting up a few volleyball nets, putting out bag toss sets and organizing any other fun lawn games. You can even set up a karaoke machine to really get the party started.
Create a Playlist
You can’t have a good party without good music. That’s just science. Before the event, create a big playlist filled with all different types of music to suit everyone’s tastes.
Make sure that the playlist will last for the duration of the block party. Here are just a few songs that you might want to include:
“Cooler Than Me” by Mike Posner
“All Summer Long” by Kid Rock
“Ice Ice Baby” by Vanilla Ice
“Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People
“Run Around” by Blues Traveler
You don’t have to print invitations on thick white cardstock. Just create a few flyers and hand them out to neighbors on the block. Instead of just putting the invite under their door, try to hand deliver it to them. Then you can begin to put names to faces before the party starts. Plus, people will be more likely to come if they feel personally invited.
On the invitations, designate where everyone should gather, what time the party starts, and what your neighbors should bring to the party.
Eat Potluck Style
Making dinner for the entire neighborhood sounds quite unappealing, at least to me. Instead, recommend that everyone bring a dish to pass. This way, everyone will have something there that they like to eat, and there will be plenty of food to go around.
To avoid 10 different people bringing a bag of chips, you might want to assign people to different categories. Maybe a few apartments on the block will bring dessert, others will be responsible for appetizers and another building will bring beverages. That way you won’t end up with only a few burgers and seven different platters of chocolate chip cookies (although I wouldn’t be mad about that).
Borrow, Borrow, Borrow
I’m guessing you don’t have enough sets of tables and chairs lying around to accommodate everyone on the guest list. On the invitations, you might want to mention that everyone should bring their own chairs. Then you won’t have to worry about finding a place to sit for every single person in your neighborhood.
Chairs and tables aren’t the only party essentials that you can borrow. Make a list of everything that you’ll need, and ask around the neighborhood if you don’t own any of those items. For instance, if you don’t have outdoor speakers, maybe someone else will. Need a few bag toss sets so everyone can play games? Have people bring what they already own.
Set Out Garbage and Recycling Cans
Unless you’d like to spend the next week cleaning up after your block party, I recommend you set out a few garbage cans and recycling bins. This way, less trash will be left on the street and on your lawn.
You’ll also want to brainstorm a strategy for cleaning up. For instance, let party guests know that each person should be responsible for tidying their individual lawn. Gather a few of your neighbors to clean up whatever trash might be left behind.