With the weather warming up and kids out of school, summer is the perfect time for some outdoor fun. Hosting a block party is a community-focused way to do just that while also fostering engagement and encouraging residents to invest in the place they call home.
To help your board host the perfect block party, a variety of community management professionals have shared their best tips for areas that association boards need to address when planning an event. Read on to discover the five summer block party essentials for association boards.
- The Right Insurance Coverage
While insurance doesn’t seem like a summer block party essential, ensuring that your liability is limited before a major event is a real necessity. Bo Bond, senior sales executive for Associations Insurance Agency, Inc. advises calling your agent to discuss your concerns, especially about a new or possibly risky exposure to the community, and getting confirmation of coverage in writing.
He also recommends looking into alternative ways to manage risk.
“Keep in mind, while the current agent is the only one who needs to provide direction on actual coverage and protection for this event, they are not the end-all-be-all when it comes to risk management,” Bond said. “You can gain valuable risk management ideas by brainstorming with the community’s board and events committee, by visiting with the community’s attorney, and by speaking with managers who’ve dealt with similar community events.”
Once you’ve taken those steps, he also suggests keeping notes for future events that could be similar.
If your community already has an events budget, then your work here is done. But if you don’t have quite enough funding, or any at all, hosting an engaging block party is still possible. Community Manager Lea Marcou, CMCA®, AMS®, PCAM®, recommends partnering with vendors, who will often provide money or volunteers to help the event run smoothly.
“It’s best to ask your vendors for sponsorships for specific items like operating the grill, donating beverages, sponsoring the cost of the DJ, paying for table and chair rentals, or providing door prizes,” Marcou said. “Often this is easier than asking for a specific amount of money, though sometimes they will provide funds to spend at your discretion. Focus on what your vendors do best. If your event is a pool party, consider asking for extra pool attendants that day at no extra charge; if you have a great park area, ask the landscaper to refresh the mulch before the event, add flowers to the planter boxes, or sponsor a new tree installation.”
By partnering with vendors, your community can have a memorable block party on a minimal budget, while allowing vendors to build goodwill with homeowners –a true win-win.
- Date and Location
A summer block party implies the location in its name, but lifestyle director, Gail Richvalsky suggests choosing a location in the middle of the block.
“Block off the area where the party will be held using lawn chairs so that if an emergency vehicle has to get through, they can be quickly removed,” said Richvalsky. “Ask people to bring lawn chairs, and grab some 'quick shade' items to keep people out of the sun.”
In addition to choosing an event date, Richvalsky also suggests including a rain date on your event invitations just in case unexpected weather forces the block party to be rescheduled.
Food is a given at any party. Richvalsky says that if your block party is a ticketed event, food should be covered in the budget. But, for a lower cost option, you can ask each homeowner to bring a dish to share potluck-style – just make sure that paper goods are provided and that the meal is in a convenient location.
“Set up the food in two homes across the street from each other in the garages with the doors open,” said Richvalsky. “Hot foods in one, sides and desserts in the other.”
Getting homeowners to mingle is easier with a fun activity. In addition to preventing people from standing around awkwardly, a few entertainment options will break the ice and give them an opening for conversation.
“Plan to have some music, cornhole boards or bocce sets so you can play some lawn games,” said Richvalsky.
Even practical attractions can encourage homeowners to attend.
“Having a city council member present or partnering with the police or fire department can be a great way to raise awareness for community safety and get owners comfortable with local government and law enforcement,” Marcou said. “Your city may also be able to help with arrangements for something like electronics recycling at your event, which is another great way to encourage residents to stop by.”
If your board covers these essentials when organizing your community's summer block party, your event will be well-planned, well-attended and well-executed with ease.