How to Plan a Christmas Neighborhood Block Party
Block parties are really great ways to celebrate your neighborhood during the holiday season. You can meet new neighbors, catch up with old neighbors, and reminisce about the best neighborhood memories. Block parties are typically summer events, especially if you live somewhere that gets really cold during the winter, but there are ways around that! We’ve put together a guide for throwing a holiday block party this winter for you.
The first step is to talk to your neighbors and make sure you have enough people on board. If it’s too cold where you live (or rainy or snowy) to have the party outside, your neighbors will have to agree to open up their homes to other neighbors. During the party, neighbors can make the rounds, stopping by each house for conversation, a snack, and something warm to drink. It helps if each house has an activity, too – though it should be one people can easily join and leave.
Once you have a list of people willing to co-host, you should send out a flyer explaining what and when the party is, how it works, and who will be hosting. Ideally, this should be 2-3 months in advance, so your neighbors can get it on their calendars. Then, 4-5 weeks before the party, send out another flyer with more information:
- Date and time
- List of addresses and names of hosts
- A request to bring a dish to a particular house (to avoid overlap while still ensuring each host gets an equal amount of help with food, write out note cards with things like “please bring a side dish to Mr. Smith’s house” or “kindly bring a dessert to Ms. Gray’s house”) and give a deadline (a couple hours before the party is scheduled to start works just fine)
- Contact information for the hosts (or just you), in case anyone has any questions
About a week before the party, put up signs around the neighborhood. These can be as simple as “Block Party on x date at x time.” You should also create signs for each host house for the day-of to indicate they are hosting. The signs should have the host’s name at the very least, but you could also include any special dietary information about the food being served there (allergen information, vegan-friendly, etc.), and maybe the activity the host has planned. The signs should also indicate if the household has a pet, and what kind.
Each host can decide on their own what type of food they want to serve, but it is a good idea for everyone to discuss their menus ahead of time so you don’t have everyone serving the same dishes. Snack or finger foods work best for this type of party, because guests are visiting multiple houses and won’t want to sit down for a full meal at just one of them. It’s a good idea to put out labels for each item, so any neighbors with dietary restrictions know what they are able to eat. Here are just a couple of our favorite menu ideas for you:
- Chicken-cheese-tomato kabobs – add some basil and balsamic vinaigrette for a festive Caprese salad
- Pigs in a blanket – bake them in a ring so they form a pull-apart wreath
- Crockpot meatballs – a classic favorite; twist things up by using a cranberry sauce
- Calzone pinwheels – not only are these fun to eat, they are easy to make vegetarian or vegan!
- Avocado or sweet potato fries – a healthy and delicious alternative to fries or chips, and they can be vegan
- Cauliflower wings – make some with BBQ sauce and some with buffalo sauce
- White elephant gift exchange: this is always a hit at holiday parties. It’ll be a little trickier to organize with people going in and out of each house, but you can do it! Consider having guests bring their gifts by earlier in the day, so neighbors have a full selection whenever they stop by. You likely won’t be able to allow trading (except among guests who are there at the same time). Or, you could have the exchange part happen at the very end of the time frame, so anyone who wants to participate knows they need to drop off a gift before then and be present at a certain time.
- Christmas movie showings: your activities don’t have to be active! Have a list of which movies you’ll be showing when so guests can stop by during their favorite. If you’re looking for something more unique, consider putting together a playlist of the Christmas episodes of your favorite TV shows! The Office, Doctor Who, Boy Meets World, and Mad Men are just a few of many classic shows known for having excellent Christmas episodes.
- Cookie decorating: this one is perfect for kids and adults alike, and especially for an open house-style party like this because it’s an individual activity.
- Christmas pickle: hiding a pickle in a Christmas tree is a tradition for so many families. Keep the tradition going by hiding a pickle in every tree in the host houses! Instead of rewarding the person who finds the pickle first, though, reward the person who has found the most pickles by the end of the night.
End the night at a specific time with caroling around the neighborhood! Invite everyone, including the hosts, to sing Christmas carols as a group. On the second set of flyers you send out, you may want to include a note about this. Let people know it will be happening, and maybe request anyone who won’t be caroling, but would like the group to stop by their house, turn on their porch light, or be waiting out on the porch, so that the caroling group knows which houses to visit.
Although favors are typical for most parties, they don’t normally fit into block parties. You can start a new trend, though! Personalized cups are the absolute perfect favor for a block party! If your neighborhood has a name, put that on the cups along with the date. It not, a simple Christmas greeting will work. Your neighbors will love having a practical favor to remind them of your Christmas Block Party — not to mention they can use it at every house all night long, and use it at any future block parties!