Prepare your block party with the help of our handy block party toolkit(pdf). It will give you tips on organizing, creating committees, managing budgets, creative activity ideas and more.
Creating a community within your block/street/neighborhood
These goals include:
Knowing your neighbors, and them knowing each other, creates a strong community. Organizing events such as block parties – interacting with those who live closest to you – begins to build a whole new sense of belonging and camaraderie that will foster a happier, healthier place to live.
- Fun: Neighbors who socialize more tend to have more fun, especially as their comfort level grows with one another.
- Safety: By having a sense of community, neighbors are more apt to look out for each other’s family and property as they feel more of a connection to each other.
- Community Action: When action needs to be taken within the community, mobilization efforts will be much more efficient.
- Dispute Resolution: Disputes may arise between neighbors, but those with a better sense of one another can usually resolve their issues much more quickly and in a low-key manner.
In other words, a neighborhood that is a community is far more powerful than a neighborhood that is a collection of families and houses.
Types of Parties
Before getting started planning a party, you will want to consider what kind of party is the best fit for you and your area. One key factor is how large the party will be, as that impacts the permitting requirements, location and other logistical needs (e.g. bathrooms).
Here are a few options, based on the capacity of you and your committee:
- Block Party (Suggested for up to 50 people)
- Potluck Style: This is the simplest (and least expensive) method of organizing a party, and the easiest to coordinate without contact information for your neighbors.
- Catered: This is easier if you know many of your neighbors but could be feasible if your flier indicates that you will collect a small amount from every person who comes to eat.
- Neighborhood Party (Suggested for 40-250 people)
Parties for an entire neighborhood usually require renting a location or obtaining a permit for a picnic area in a park to ensure enough space for everyone. These parties also require more coordination, so having a committee of at least 4 or 5 people can make a big difference.
- Regional Party (For 100 or more people)
Larger parties for an entire region or 100 or more people obviously have their own requirements, including but not limited to insurance, permits for public locations and a larger organizing committee. For larger parties, you may also need to arrange and pay for trash and/or recycling pickup.
Please Note: If you want to hold your party at a park or close a street, see the 'Appendices on Park Permits and Restrictions' or 'Street Closures Procedures.'
Leadership: How to avoid doing everything yourself
All it takes to create a successful party is ONE PERSON deciding to play a leadership role—that of Party Captain. Party Captains don’t have to do everything themselves. In fact, once you get the ball rolling, you may do very little. Here are some ideas for the leaders you will need and some of their key tasks:
- Party Captain:
Defines the vision, identifies a location, recruits leaders
- Potluck / food leader(s):
Decides menu, organizes food placement, seating, tables and other equipment
- Entertainment / Activities Coordinator:
Plans entertainment, location, equipment, supervision and talent
- Communications leader
Communicates with the neighborhood, organizes, posts and distributes fliers
Plans and organizes donation needs, coordinates donation items and donation goals, and controls and records funds
- Committee Logistics:
Focuses on the event's "Big Picture," manages set up and clean up of the event, and plans and records attendee registration
Order of planning and organization
Planning a party should start about two to three months before the event. This doesn't mean that there is two months worth of work to do, rather that some things (like block closure requests) need to be handled well in advance of the actual party.
2 – 3 Months Ahead:
- Recruit leaders
- Host first organizational meeting
- Define your territory and party size
- Define the location
- Create a budget
- Start working on the “to do” list
- Sketch out a plan for the event
- Start getting the word out
2 – 3 Weeks Ahead
- Second organizational meeting
- Second flier or outreach
- Start collecting money
- Create Day of Party timeline
Day of Party
- Coordination meeting
- Attendee registration
- HAVE FUN!
Park Permits and Restrictions
If you want to use park picnic space, you will need to reserve it in advance through Denver Parks and Rec to ensure it is available for your party. A permit is required if you expect 25 or more people. Most alcoholic beverages are not allowed in picnic areas in parks. Check your location for details. Learn more...
Public Works Permit Operations is your single point of contact for block party permits. The permit is free.
In addition to the free permit, and to encourage neighbors to gather during Denver Days, the city is waiving its requirement for block party insurance. Applicants who still wish to purchase insurance for their event are provided with an easy way to do so.
Download block party guidelines
- First organizational meeting (2 months prior to party)
Come up with a time and location for the initial meeting and encourage neighbors to participate.
- Getting the word out/inviting your neighbors
Reach out personally to those you know, invite others with a flier that covers the basics: Who? What? When? Where? Why?
- First To-Do List
Take notes of the many ideas that come out of your first meeting so that you can put together a master to-do list, broken out into categories. Include specific tasks and the dates they need to be completed.
- Make a Budget
Prepare a budget so that you know where you will be spending money and how much you have to collect.
- Second organizational meeting (21 days prior to party)
Cover things like what you've accomplished so far, problems that have arisen, what still needs to be done and what resources are still needed. Again, take notes and add them to your master list.
- Collecting Money (21 days prior to party)
If collecting money for the party, make sure to notify people in both your first and all following announcements for the event. You may even want to print tickets to keep track of who has already paid.
- Second communication (14 days prior to party)
Remind people about the party, the date and any updates on what has been accomplished so far. You can also remind them to bring something to the pot luck or request anything you may still need.
- Hot dogs
- Veggie burgers
- Cold sandwiches
- Chips / dips
- Side dishes (good idea to know what each house is bringing so you don’t end up with 30 potato salads as all of your side dishes)
Party Day Organizational Meeting
On the day of the event, party leaders should meet 3-4 hours in advance to get organized and begin set up.
For event setup
- Ask everyone who is loaning tables and chairs to bring them to the dining area
- Set up tables and put on plastic table cloths
- Set up all of the cups, cutlery, condiments, napkins
- Set up bins designated for recycling; make sure they are clearly marked
- Set up big garbage cans (place several heavy-duty garbage bags in the bottom of each can before you set up the first bag so that when the bag gets filled and removed, you have other bags ready to go)
- Set up staging areas for kids’ activities
- Set up the registration table
- Set up the tents/umbrellas for shade
- Identify people to assist with clean up following the event
During the event:
- Coordinate the emptying of trash cans – assign one person to each trash can
- Coordinate a monitor for kids’ staging area in half-hour rotations
- Coordinate who will cook food, if applicable
After the event:
- Send thank you cards
- Send follow up information and reminders for activities or tasks after the event
Host a post-event meeting
A post-event meeting can be accomplished as informally as the first meeting. Let everyone on the block or in your community know when and where it is happening. To begin the meeting, set a constructive stage for discussion by pointing out the positives of your event. Allow others to chime in. Then ask people what could be done to make it better next year. Try to keep the discussion positive by being open about things that did not work too well. Every suggestion, comment and criticism is a gift that will improve next year’s party.
Also talk to people one-on-one to get their feedback and ideas. Some people will feel more comfortable with this more private format. While there might be a little bit of constructive criticism, most of what you will hear will be great ideas for next year that may never have occurred to you. Take notes or you will forget half of the ideas! Create a file of all the notes you've generated along the way and break them out for next year. Make sure to get contact information for anyone who volunteers to help next year.
What else needs to be done?
Just after the party is a great time to begin conversations about what the neighborhood wants. People will be inspired to get involved in community projects with their neighbors.
Register your event and help us follow participation in this year’s Denver Days celebration!