Local Food Sampling: An Awesome Block Party Theme

Planning a block party is a great way to encourage your neighbors to interact and form more solid friendships. But breaking the ice can be hard at first. It's helpful to choose a theme for your block party as this gives everyone a starting point for interaction. One great theme to explore is local foods. You can serve foods from local restaurants, specialties that are popular in the area, and even produce from local farms. Here are some tips to help you plan your local foods-themed block party.

Set up a table for each food.

You'll want to rent plenty of tables and chairs through a place like Party People Rentals & Sales for this event. This way, you can set up a separate table for each local food that you provide for guests to sample. For instance, you can have one table set up with pizzas, another with local cheese, and a third with local wines. Set chairs along one side of each table for guests who want to sit a while in one place, and leave the other side of the table chairless for those who prefer to grab food as they walk and mingle.

Aim for variety in your food choices.

Try to get something to appeal to every taste. Opt for a few general items like pizza and subs as most everyone will like these. Make sure, however, that you order them from somewhere with some local significance. For instance, you can order pizza from the local pizzeria with the highest TripAdvisor rating and subs from the sandwich shop that has been open the longest.

You'll also want to choose a few unique foods that your area is known for. For instance, in Buffalo, New York, you could include sponge candy and beef on sandwiches. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania you could include Philly subs and soft pretzels.

If you have some local breweries and vineyards in your area, you can also include a few beers and wines from these establishments. Try to also find a local root beer or soda for the kids.

Include some information about each food.

Plan the foods that you'll order well in advance so that you have time to type up a blurb about each one. Include information about the business that makes the food, its history and significance, and anything else of interest. Print these blurbs out on cardstock, frame them, and display them on the tables next to the food.

Ask attendees to pitch in towards the cost.

Between the table and chair rental fees and the cost of the food, the price of hosting this type of block party can climb quickly. It only makes sense to expect guests to contribute. Try to add up your expected costs a week or two before the party. Divide the cost by your expected number of guests, and then charge this amount to each guest who attends. Most people will be more than happy to pay $10 or $15 to attend such a unique gathering. 

If you have a smaller community, you could instead arrange to have each attendee bring a local food with them. They can also print out their own blurb about the food. Just have everyone contribute a few dollars towards the table and chair rental, too, so you're not stuck covering this entire cost. (Table and chair rentals are quite affordable. You may pay as little as $1 per chair and $10 per long table.)

The more people who attend your local foods block party, the better! Start planning well in advance so you can send out invitations a month before the date arrives. Ask guests to RSVP so you can get a good idea of how many will attend. This will help you determine how much food to order and how much to charge each attendee.