Monday, March 14, 2016

Guest Post: Planning Your Block Party

Spring time leads into summer and it is time for parties and barbecues. I know living in the south we start up our grills early and dust off our patio gear before it is even officially springtime. If you are planning on having a block party this year in your neighborhood or a fun barbecue and picnic check out this week's guest post by writer Darci Maxwell. What are your party tips and tricks? 

The Essential Guide For Catering Your Block Party
By: Darci Maxwell

It is time once again to start planning your neighborhood Summer Block Party. If you have been assigned to cater the party, there are a lot of things to think about. This guide will help lighten your load and give you great ideas to make this next block party a tasty delight. Read on for tips and tricks that will save you time, money, and stress.

Ask Essential Questions
Before you begin planning the party, you need to ask yourself the following questions: What food would your guests like to eat? What is your budget? How can you cut costs? Is there a theme for the party? What food can you bring that is both cost effective and fits the theme? Who do you have on your committee to help out? What time will the block party be (catering a lunch is a lot different than catering dinner)? How many people will be there?

Look at All Catering Options
While your first choice for catering might be to go with the biggest and best nearby restaurant, it may not be cost effective. Think about all of your options before pick one. Ask other, smaller restaurants to see if they can cater your party, as they will probably save you money. Ask food truck companies to see if they can cater as well, as that could be a fun way to liven up the party. And of course, don’t forget to consider preparing the food as a neighborhood too.

Feature Your Guests
If someone in your neighborhood owns a specialty shop, have them bring some of their goods to the party. Ask those who are excellent bakers to bring some treats to share. If someone on your block grows an impressive garden, have them bring some of their fresh produce to the party. Or, if you plan far enough ahead, you can grow a community garden. This blog shares some great tips and tricks for creating your own edible landscaping. Using food that people bring or grow themselves can save you quite a bit of money at the end of the day.

Host a Potluck
If you have a small budget, consider hosting a potluck and have guests bring a dish to share. Instead of having everyone just bring something random, create a sign-up sheet so that you make sure that all of the dishes are covered. That way you won’t end up with sixteen tubs of butter for your potatoes but no potatoes! It might be a good idea to supply the main dish, and have the attendees bring desserts and side dishes. A cute idea is to ask every family to bring a picnic basket with a small meal to share. Put half of the family's names in a hat, and have the other guests each draw a name. Those two families will then sit down and share their baskets. Make sure that you have a few extra baskets if someone forgot to bring theirs.

Make Sure There’s Dessert
Don’t forget about dessert! You’ll need something sweet to wash down your meal, and your party will feel incomplete without something tasty. Some block parties serve only desserts at their gathering. This blog suggests that every good party needs plenty of chocolate, and it’s true. Almost everyone loves chocolate. Bring plenty of options to keep your guests satisfied, and make sure that you bring enough for everyone.

Remember Drinks
It is very important to remember to quench the thirst of your guests. The most important thing to supply is water. If you have other games and activities going on, your guests will need plenty of water to keep them hydrated. Plan on 16 ounces per attendee. Offer something sweet like soda or lemonade as well. You should plan that each guest will drink 2 cups of beverages in the first hour of your party, and then one each hour after that. That’s about a 2-liter bottle of soda for every 4-5 people. Of course, you should bring plenty of ice. Have about 2 pounds of ice for every person that will be there to keep the drinks cool.

Go Easy on the Alcohol
Go easy on the alcohol at your next block party, as binge drinking is a serious problem. Create a system to make sure that everyone gets their fair share of booze, but not too much. You can give everyone a punch card, place a mark on their hand, or just assign someone to keep track of people as they come through the alcohol line. You could also just ask everyone to bring their own alcohol to the party, if possible. If there will be young children there, it may be a good idea to forgo it entirely.

Enlist Help
Planning, preparing, and bringing all of the food to the block party is quite the task. Enlist help whenever possible. Ask your other committee members to pitch in, ask your neighbors to help, and involve your family. Don’t be afraid to delegate. Assign specific jobs to people so that they know exactly what they are expected to do.

Think About Tableware
Make sure that you bring plenty of tableware to your party. The nice thing about tableware is that you can save it and use it the next time you throw a party, so it doesn’t hurt to have too much. Have one full service of tableware for each person at the party, and 10% extra in case anyone drops their fork or breaks their spoon. Supply an extra fork or spoon for each person to use when they eat dessert, as chances are they won’t save theirs. Have at least 2-3 napkins for each person. 

Darci Maxwell is a walking contradiction, and she loves it. You are just as likely to find her outside tearing up a mountain as you are to discover her curled up at home with a steamy cup of herbal tea watching Dr. Who. She is terrified of heights, yet she is the first one to run to the edge and marvel at the spellbinding sight. As an introverted extrovert, writing is her favorite way to connect with many people while still enjoying the comforts of her own home. Her favorite quote is “Here’s to the movers, the shakers, and the mischief-makers.”

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