What do the 100 or so houses on Roseheath Avenue in Toronto have in common? A look at the calendar reveals a big circle around a summer Saturday, the date of the street's annual block party.
For neighbourhoods that haven't yet discovered the delights of visiting with neighbours and meeting newcomers in a jolly outdoor setting, the folks of this street are happy to share a few tips and ideas for a successful block party that's fun for everyone from babies to seniors.
And what would a block party be without food? The Canadian Living Test Kitchen has designed a menu that relies on family-pleasing dishes, such as a dip, salads, barbecued chicken legs and, of course, sweets -- strawberry shortcake and brownies -- to make your street gathering as delicious as it is fun. Click here for our "Come one, come all!" menu.
• Form a committee from the neighbourhood in winter or early spring to plan the party.
• Schedule the date and plan a rain date.
• Get the necessary city or town permit and insurance for the event.
• Calculate costs that will cover permits, insurance, food (if provided), rentals, disposable cups, plates and cutlery, and prizes if applicable.
• Send an invitation to all residents advising them of the date, cost and fun ahead.
• Depending on conditions of the insurance, decide location of the communal barbecue.
• Delegate someone to be in charge of each part of the party, such as food, games, setup and cleanup.
• Decide location of tables for salads, condiments, drinks and desserts.
• Ask neighbours to bring along such things as tables, folding chairs, ice chests
• Delegate someone to keep records, such as costs. Be sure to keep receipts.
• Ask a resident to take
some photos for the record and memories.
• Offer name tags and pens at a table to make meeting neighbours and remembering names easier.
• Set up a table for each type of dish: beverages, salads, side dishes and desserts.
• Delegate someone to be in charge of each table to help kids and keep things neat.
• Be sure to delegate a cleanup crew.
• Invite everyone to bring along a favourite salad, side dish or dessert.
• Encourage neighbours to show off their cultural heritage with traditional dishes.
• Plan games and activities such as: a puppet show; story-telling; water-balloon toss; face painting; pet show; kiddie tricycle parade; baking contest; finger-food contest; garden tours; races (three-legged, wheelbarrow, obstacle course); watermelon-seed spitting.
• Have a talent show, karaoke performance area, dance lessons, porch concert sing-alongs -- and whatever your street does best.
• Have fun!