We started planning about 6 weeks before by lining up our BBQ caterer (Bootheel Catering if you are in Northern Virginia). This is the key to everyone having a great time. We have them drop off the food an hour or two before the start time with instructions for keeping things hot that need to be hot. Once we worked out the pricing, I sent an Evite to every neighbor who I had an email address for. I made this invitation for those I didn't have emails for and my neighbor and I dropped them off to those neighbors.
This is the first year we did the parade and it was a huge hit with the kids (and the adults). The adults that don't have young kids were the spectators and cheered the kids on which was really wonderful to see. The kids had a blast decorating their scooters and bikes. Here are my 2 cuties ready to roll.
Next year we'll get a police escort for the parade which I think will make it even more special for the kids, and it doesn't cost a dime. We had the next best thing this year which was a neighbor with a convertible and some patriotic rock 'n roll!
At the end of the parade, we had the street blocked off by the County. It allowed us to let the kids run free without worrying about cars coming through. Our street is not very wide but it's enough space for the kids to play and for the adults to enjoy themselves a bit more. We decorated the barrels with balloons to make it more festive and the barrels more noticeable.
After some chips and salsa, and some fantastic homemade onion dip with chips, we brought out hot dogs for the kids and catered BBQ for the adults. Everyone dug in like they had never eaten before!! No pictures of that because everyone's fingers were sticky with BBQ sauce!
Here are my easy table decorations. $2 centerpiece decorations from the party store taped to the top of two sand buckets which we already owned!!
The kids spent a lot of time playing in the street, front yards, and backyard play sets while the adults enjoyed the dinner. We set up water tables, cornhole games (custom made by Handy Hubby), and soccer. Sidewalk chalk and some driveway toys rounded out the pre-fireworks entertainment.
The adults enjoyed some pie from our first annual pie bake-off which was tremendous fun. We had 14 pie entries which spanned the entire scope of pies. I did a not so great fruit pie and a yummy s'mores pie (recipe here and pictured below left side, third from the top).
The kids love it but I think the dads loved it just as much!
It was a really fun evening for everyone and we are already talking about how to improve on it next year. Overall, I don't think we'll change much because everyone had a great time. One of the best parts for me was talking to a whole bunch of new neighbors and now we wave and talk during walks around the block which is always fun.
Any block party tips? Feel free to link up any block party posts in the comments because I would love to get some ideas for next year's event! Bonus points for free and easy ideas.
Photos courtesy of Meghan Keller