Guide for residents
Have you read our Checklist and Top Tips?
Why have a street party?
- Meet your neighbours in a fun way and let everyone join in. With more independent lives we don’t have many chances to bump into people.
- Build a friendly community, rather than being strangers – you don’t have to become friends, just neighbours.
- The street is the best place as it is right outside your house.
- To enjoy the street without cars which normally get in the way.
- Kids can play safely for a change – see Street Play
- All ages and backgrounds can relax with less fear of difference.
- For a birthday, June strawberry tea party, Halloween or pre-Christmas and New Year, pancake day, Easter or May Day.
- Just for the fun – it doesn’t have to be a Jubilee as it’s a great tradition and not just for kids.
This guidance is only for residents organising a simple street party in 1 or 2 quiet streets without external publicity. A wider public event in more streets needs extra arrangements.
When to hold it
You will need to start planning it 2-3 months in advance of an event, unless planning an informal quick street meet. Mid-July and September are good when kids are at school. Sundays can be better as fewer people work.
A basic plan for the day could be:
- remove cars by 11am
- lunch at 2 to bring everyone together
- tea party at 5
- finish by a time when you would not keep other neighbours awake
Or at short notice without closing a road hold a smaller informal street meet. Hold it on a pavement, at the end of a cul de sac, driveway or at a park. Then you can then hold a proper street party at a later date.
Planning and meetings
Start by asking a couple of neighbours you know whether they are keen. Agree a date early on.
Invite the whole street to the first meeting, ideally in the street as it is more welcoming. Or try different houses to meet. 2-3 more meetings will be needed to chat and plan.
Someone could take notes of who is doing what and to copy invitations to all houses. Keep meetings informal and share out the activities and jobs – don’t let anyone dominate. No need for a formal ‘committee’ or ‘minutes of meetings’.
Inviting people face to face is a must to get people involved. You need to send round paper invitations – this may be needed to show your council that you have ‘consulted’ everyone. Most street parties are for residents only and there is no outside ‘publicity’ (that would make it a public event).
Most neighbours will normally join in as it is right outside their door – they will have to decide whether not to go, if only for a short time. Read this encouraging story by an East London resident about his experience of organising a street party.
But allow for all tastes. Some, such as older people, can feel quite wary or vulnerable and so a little effort may be needed to encourage them, such as:
- invite them face to face
- assure them that your event is for all ages, and not just for kids – as street parties used to be
- put out chairs to sit on
- have a tea party and a cake competition
- have a quiz or display photos about the history of the street or neighbourhood
- celebrate the oldest person with a cake or something
- play music they like or ask them to show off their dance skills
Usual things for teenagers – give them jobs to do, physical games, music etc.
Download and use this template first invitation to your neighbours if you need one.
Age Friendly Streets – lots of ideas for mixing age groups.
Facebook groups, twitter etc. will only reach some people.
But you will not be able to suit everyone – as long as you invite everyone, respect differences and don’t seriously inconvenience anyone, you should be able to have your event anyway. Talk to people to prevent any formal ‘objections’ to the council road closure, but no one should be able to stop the event.
- Food to share at fixed times to eat together – buffet, tea party;
- Hold a Street Quiz – download your copy here;
- Music for some time, ideally live acoustic, not too loud, late or long;
- Decorate the street e.g. with bunting – up early to get things going;
- Soft areas to sit – a lounge with carpet for toddlers, seats for elderly;
- Focus activities together over a short time and in middle of street.
- Games for all ages – get our Play Guide and see ideas below;
- SwapShop Table & Kit to exchange things, help and ideas;
- Cake/biscuit/pudding competition
- Bring & Buy / swap table or auction
- Guess-my-house-number game or wear labels with name and house
- Tug of war, skittles, swing ball
- Cycle course, football, basketball
- Full Street Games competitions for all ages
- Celebrate / birthday of oldest person
- Where are you from map of UK or world
- Raffle to raise money for your street party
- Stories or photos of people from years ago in the street
- Best front garden or decorated front of houses
- Chalk drawing on tarmac
- Survey or petition on local issue
- Buy your folding tables and chairs for your street party and community activities
- Age Friendly Streets ideas for age mixing
Free downloads of our Guides to make the most of your street party.
Things you can buy or hire, from bunting and tables to prizes – see here
Age Friendly Streets – lots of ideas for mixing age groups.
Unless planning an informal street meet, you will normally need to apply 5 to 12 weeks in advance for permission from the council traffic/highways department or Events team to temporarily close the road.
While residents are writing probably 3 times to every house (and any business) in the street to be involved, you are also effectively consulting them about closing the road.
Councils vary a lot in what arrangements they require. The council, or you, will have to consult the fire, ambulance and police.
Think about alternative traffic routes. It is possible to close and move cars out from only part of a road.
Arrangements in Scotland are different.
Road Closure Signs
If too late or you can’t close the road – try a Street Meet
Although closing the road properly is best, try a street meet which can be arranged more simply, without permissions at short notice without closing a road. Use whatever space is available – pavements, parking spaces, gardens or driveways.
Street Lounge: not requiring formally closing a road, carefully parked cars and carpets can be used to slow and alert traffic, and chairs on the pavement.
Street Welcome: a new resident can be a good excuse for meeting neighbours, inviting in for tea, or given a gift or welcomed by a signed card from neighbours.
Street Play-Time: residents agree to prioritise play in the street at certain times. See more on Street Play.
Insurance and safety
Think together about minimising any risks from accident, burns on a BBQ, damage, electricity, rain, breakages, etc. Agree in advance that everyone should take responsibility for themselves and watch out for each other, especially children – say this on the invitation.
Your council may require you to sign some sort of indemnity statement as part of the road closure to protect them against liability. This is normal and something we encourage, rather than them ‘requiring’ insurance.
Public Liability Insurance schemes that are available may not suit your needs, and insurance does not stop anything going wrong.
Your council may ‘recommend’ you buying insurance, or you may want to. But if they ‘require’ it, you can buy it from as little as £53 – see our special insurance page. Larger street parties and public events would need insurance.
Or see our detailed street party insurance guidance.
You should not normally need to apply to your council for a Temporary Event Notice licence if any ‘performance’ is ‘incidental’ to the day or ‘background’, including recorded music. This has been confirmed by many council licensing teams. If you are publicising a programme of bands etc. or are selling things like tickets, entrance or alcohol you would need to apply for a TEN at least 2 weeks in advance, costing about £21.
Arrangements in Scotland are different.
On the day
Following a note round all houses or on cars the day or week before, remind the last few people to move their cars. Get the bunting up early to get people going, along with the road barriers. And don’t forget to clear up and move the barriers at the agreed time.
Afterwards – follow up and tell your story
Some keen residents will be planning your next one already! Having some follow-up can really make the most of the event.
Exhibit photos on a window/wall or put them online.
Even carry out a survey of what people thought. Do you want to talk about social things, community safety or traffic –see our Traffic and Roads section.
What if nobody wants to join in?
Don’t worry, they usually will, even if they decide to join in on the day. It is rare that less half of the street join in. A bit of door knocking is important, especially to invite the shy or elderly. Read this encouraging story by an East London resident about his experience of organising a street party.
What to do about a resident who actively does not want the street party?
Really listen to their needs. They may have the wrong idea about the ‘party’. Some people can worry about their car or of having to be sociable. If they cannot be reassured, offer to let them park wherever they want or even drive slowly in and out on the day. And if noise is kept low, they should have no reason to stop the majority of you going ahead. Your council should not let a single objection prevent them giving you permission.
What if it rains?
Be ready to cover things up and wait till it passes or delay your activities. Unless you are really unlucky, rain should not stop play.
Why not join more streets together?
You would lose the intimacy with your neighbours as it won’t be right outside everyone’s house. But, as long as it is for residents only and is not publicised externally it can work. A public event is different.
What can go wrong? Not much that can’t be sorted
- An important delivery or a disabled driver has to drive in and out – be careful and let them.
- A child falls over or wanders into other roads – all adults should watch out for the children.
- Someone turns music up loud – they must be stopped to prevent neighbours being disturbed.
- Gatecrashers probably won’t happen unless there is loud music late.
There are too many cars / residents parking?
You only need to move 8- 10 cars out to have enough space. Residents parking does not normally operate on weekends, but leafleting of cars is crucial.
Why is holding it in the street best?
The street is right outside people’s houses so most people come. If closing the road is not possible then a park picnic, garden or building are good. Or why not use the pavement or your driveway for a street meet?
How do we raise money?
Money can get in the way and it is best to bring everything to share.
Here are some suggestions if you need money e.g. for bunting.
How to deal with traffic long term?
Hooray, no traffic for the day. To reduce traffic or parking would be part of long term working with the council and there are groups who can help you. See our Roads and Traffic.
More questions? Just ask us.
Important note: This advice is to help in planning an event, but it is not intended to constitute a complete list of organisational arrangements, responsibilities or liabilities for the planning of a street party or event. Streets Alive Ltd. recommends that professional advice is sought if organisers are in any doubt.