Now that summer is here and the weather is warming up, take your party
outdoors! Here are some party themes that are perfect for the season, and will let
you get a little closer with the neighbors.
Neighborhood Block Party
Gather the gang and start the summer off with a friendly neighborhood block
party! Ask a few neighbors to help with the plans ahead of time and divide the
work into the following categories: invitations, setup, food, games & activities and
clean-up. Here are some suggestions for the committees:
Give your party a theme, such as "Cedar Court Clambake,"
"Greenbrook Grill," "Back Street B-B-Q" or "Poplar Lane Pot Luck." Then
make invitations to fit the theme. You might enlarge a map of your
neighborhood, make copies and label the party site. Or write the party
details on small cocktail napkins, roll them up and insert them into
balloons from a Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kit and tie the balloons to
each of your neighbors' mailboxes. Write "Surprise Inside!" on the balloon
in permanent marker as a hint.
Choose the specific site for your party - perhaps the middle of the
court or street, someone's big backyard, a nearby park or the
homeowner's association clubhouse. Set-up folding tables and chairs, and
decorate them with festive tablecloths and helium balloons. Consider
where and how to serve the food (and make sure it stays protected until
serving time). Tie yellow ribbons with yellow helium balloons attached
around nearby trees or fences to welcome the guests. Take obscure
close-up shots of neighboring homes and place them on the tables. Have
t-shirts made featuring the entrance to your neighborhood, such as a
waterfall or plaque, and add a slogan, such as "River Heights Block Party
You can make it a potluck and have everyone bring a special dish,
or ask the guests to bring salads and sides and buy the BBQ meat with
monetary contributions. Or divide the food into categories and assign them
to various families, such as appetizers, salads, veggies, and desserts,
then have everyone bring their own meat to cook. Another option is to
make it a chili cook-off with various pots of favorite chili recipes.
Games & Activities
Help Welcome Newcomers
If there are some new faces in the neighborhood, play a game of "True or
False." Ask the new neighbors some questions before the party, such as
"Where did you come from?," "What are the names of your pets?" or
"What do you like best about the neighborhood?." Then read either true
answers or made-up answers to the rest of the crowd, such as "The
Smiths came from Orlando, Florida — true or false?" or "They have three
cats named Huey, Dewey, and Louie — true or false?" and see how well
you know the new neighbors.
As guests arrive, have them write down a news item on small sheets of
paper such as a recent accomplishment, life change, silly gossip or latest
hobby. Read the news items one at a time and have the group guess
whom the news belongs to.
Where Are They Now?
Collect some pictures or information about neighbors who have moved
away and have a quiz about their latest adventures, moves or activities.
Pass around the obscure close-up shots of neighborhood houses and
have the guests try to guess which house belongs to which family.
Ask neighbors to share funny or poignant stories from the past about
events or people in the neighborhood.
Write down clean-up tasks on small sheets of paper, such as
"Fold up the chairs," "Throw away the paper products," or "Wrap up the
leftovers." Place the tasks in a bowl and mix them up. Have each guest
draw a task and complete it before leaving the party. You might want to
have a separate set of simple tasks for the kids. Place the task in a
balloon, inflate it with a Balloon Time Helium Balloon Kit and have the kids
pop a balloon to find out what their chore is.
Other Outdoor Summer Party Suggestions
Tailgate Sports Party
Gather the gang for a sports party, such as baseball, volleyball, basketball, rollerskating,
biking, touch football or swimming. Have guests dress appropriately for
the sport and bring equipment to share. Host the event in your backyard, at a
local park or a sporting arena, and decorate with helium balloons and banners.
Have a tailgate party after the event with food served from the back of several
balloon-decorated trucks or SUVs.
Ask your friends to come dressed in cowboy-western attire for a "party on the
range." Serve barbecued beef, chicken or pork, baked beans, coleslaw and
cornbread. After the ten-gallon meal, set up a space for square dancing to work
off the calories, and decorate with colorful helium balloons, streamers and
country-western touches. Wind down with a few hands of Texas Hold'em Poker.
Penny Warner has more than 25 years of experience as an author
and party planner. She has published more than 50 books, including 16
specific to parties. Additionally, Warner writes a weekly newspaper
column on family life, penned a column for Sesame Street Parents
magazine and has appeared on several regional and national TV morning
programs. Her latest book, HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, debuted in
February 2010 from NAL/Penguin.
Balloon Time is the leading brand of consumer helium balloon kits
in North America. Balloon Time kits feature a helium-filled tank, latex
or foil balloons and ribbon, and are available at national retail
chains, party goods and grocery stores nationwide.