How to host the perfect street party

Outdoor party

The Jubilee bank holiday weekend saw outdoor celebrations and street parties being held up and down the country, in a rare and welcome display of national unity. This will have been some people’s first experience of neighbourhood gatherings, yet street parties were more widespread throughout the 20th century.

If you’ve acquired the taste for outdoor dining and socialising after the Jubilee weekend, organising a street party is surprisingly easy. Whether you’re celebrating the final residents moving into a new cul-de-sac, participating in a local pageant or simply taking advantage of summer, here’s how to throw a street party which will be talked about for years to come (in the right way, of course)…

1. Gauge levels of interest

Any successful street party requires majority support, and ideally majority participation. There’s always one curmudgeon who’ll want everyone to be back home by teatime, but they can usually be ignored if everyone else is enthusiastic. If several people raise objections, consider downscaling your plans to a garden party.

2. Estimate numbers

This has to be a ballpark figure – some people won’t turn up on the day, while others might decide to bring friends or relatives along. Even so, approximate numbers determine how many chairs/napkins/sandwiches might be required. Monitor numbers by setting up a dedicated WhatsApp group, inviting everyone to join and confirm who’ll be attending.

3. Agree a date

If you’re celebrating a particular event, the date might be non-negotiable. Otherwise, sound out group members to see if one Saturday or Sunday is particularly suitable. Suggest a few options, and go with the most popular choice. Many people have busy lives, so there won’t be a universally suitable date.

4. Hire equipment

Unless you’re a chair collector, you won’t have enough seats for outdoor socialising. Seating can be hired cheaply, along with other street party staples like trestle tables. Alternatively, ask neighbours to bring out their patio furniture and dining chairs. Hiring a bouncy castle will keep residents of all ages entertained for a surprisingly long period.

5. Organise catering

With so many dietary requirements nowadays, stick to sandwiches, buffet food and cakes. Provide vegetarian and vegan options, and ask if anyone is gluten intolerant or has food allergies. Provide hot and soft drinks only; if people are asking to bring wine or beer, check with the police or local council whether this could be interpreted as public drinking.

6. Add decorations

Injecting colour and fun into a street party doesn’t take (or cost) much. Invite local kids to design plates/banners/signage, getting them involved and generating excitement. Balloons are low-cost and colourful, bunting is quick to hang, while paper plates and napkins can be bought in bulk cheaply. Ensure the whole party site is evenly and generously decorated.

7.Consider entertainment

Bringing people together for al fresco dining and socialising is often all a successful street party needs. Some people might wish to augment the occasion with children’s entertainers, fireworks, live music and suchlike. Once again, consult attendees to determine their preferences – and keep costs in mind when considering desirable but non-essential extras…

8. Monitor expenditures

It’s easy for costs to spiral if you’re hiring a mobile zoo and bringing in outside catering. Unless you’re deep-pocketed and generous, these costs shouldn’t be borne by you, even if you need to settle every invoice in first instance. Selling tickets recoups initial outlay, but many households are struggling financially at present, so pare down costs wherever possible.


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