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Dancing in the Street – the positives of partying

May 31, 2012

Dancing in the Street – the positives of partying

May 31, 2012

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The royal jubilee weekend in the UK has now started and people all over the British Isles (as well as some commonwealth counties) will be partaking of the newly resurrected tradition of street parties. It’s likely not so much a show of allegiance to the crown, but rather a good excuse for a good old knees up. I’m not quite sure when such community activities came back into popularity but there was definitely a couple decades where people, particularly the young, wouldn’t have entertained the idea of hanging out with their neighbours or doing anything for the community. It just seemed a bit of an old fashioned and even foreign concept. But somewhere along the line, particularly as times got harder financially, ‘community’ has made a come back and along with it, has come the resurgence of the street party.

Now obviously a street/block party can be good for the feel good factor (it’s a party for goodness sake) but organising or chipping in with one also ticks off some other things on the feel good checklist.
– Doing things that positively impact others
– Being useful to others
– Being valued for what you do
These not only make you feel good at the time but can help build up your self-esteem.

So why not think about organising some kind of get together in your neighbourhood. It’s easy to find a good excuse (a jubilee, is quite frankly, along with the extra public holiday a fantastic excuse), but you don’t need to wait long for an opportune theme to come along – celebrate Halloween, Valentines, Independence Day, Australia Day, Chinese New Year, Earth Day (daytime or by candlelight of course) St Patricks Day or any poignant day in history or culture. I personally quite like the idea of celebrating another countries national day. Could mean learning some interesting things along the way and it could attract an interesting bunch of people who you wouldn’t otherwise meet.
There’s a ton of National Something days around the world – why not use one of those as a theme – National Potato day for instance?!? You could have potato carving contests, Mr potato head fun and the opportunity for some carb stacked, tasty cooking. Or make one up – Dim Sum Day, Jitterbug Day, Marsupial Day or In memoriam of someone late and great – Steve Jobs, Steve Irwin – someone’s who’s life’s work should be celebrated.
The only time I would avoid is probably christmas/holiday season. People (likely including you) have so much on at this time of year it’s difficult to commit fully with time and enthusiasm.

It doesn’t have to be a street or block party. If the weather is less than reliable and you aren’t best mates with the owner of a marquee rental company, you may need to think about holding your event inside. Finding somewhere that can be kind of inside and out often works best.
You could use your place of worship, a local community centre, village hall, sports centre, YHA, there’s all kinds of spaces that can be available either for free (with possibly a bit of arm twisting) or for not much money. The fact that these places are cheap or free usually signifies that they are not very high on the attractiveness scale. But that’s half the fun. Transforming somewhere into a haven of fun!!

Of course, if there is a fee for your site (or to have your street closed) and for any decorations, then you probably don’t want to have to be burdened with the cost. Ideally, if you set up some kind of committee a bit of pre-event fundraising will do the trick. More importantly, if you get people excited about the event then you may get a lot of time and services provided for free. If you have spent out more than you would like, then get money-making on the day. Make some cupcakes or punch and get selling. Any leftover money you make can maybe go to charity – double whammy in the Feel Good Bank.
Sure it’s not always easy organising things like this. There is work and time involved as well as obstacles (there’s sure to be an official waiting somewhere with an over complicated form to fill in), but it is yet another feel good tick when you succeeding in overcoming a challenge. streetparty.org.uk has some useful information on the practicalities.

In terms of decorations, lower the cost and increase the fun by getting thrifty and having a go at making some yourself (and with your willing buddies, who you have no doubt roped in by now).
Ting – another feel good factor – getting creative.
Bunting has also made a come-back in recent years and I love this diverse gem of a decoration. It’s easy to make your own with some coloured or painted paper and a bit of string. You can be as intricate or as simple as you, or your schedule, would like.
I really like the idea of using the newspaper as it is for bunting, or maybe magazines or old (beyond hope) book pages. This could even influence another theme idea – a literary or children’s favourites party. If you’re a dab hand with a sewing machine, get creating re-usable bunting with scraps of material or if you’re a knitter – wow, knitted bunting, loving that idea.

Use things you have hanging around but don’t really value, add a splash of colour and voila – something party-esque is made.
Old glass jars, vases or even old saucepans full or sweets or fruit.
Or ask around. A lot of people have bought decorations from parties past, that now sits around in boxes, unloved for most of the year. They’ll probably welcome the chance to get out those cute pumpkin fairylights, glittery skulls or reams of tinsel (I’m guilty on all 3 fronts of having such neglected items). As for paper napkins, I bet you find if you ask your friends/aquaintances, they have mountains of half-used packs of paper napkins between them. Go ahead, mix and match the napkin designs. A black skull and bones napkin will look cool next to a pink floral designed one. In fact, why not have a mix and match party theme – all the better!

If nothing else – balloons are cheap and go a long way!

Get organising, get creative, but most of all enjoy the experience. Don’t sweat about the little things. It’s like at a wedding – people don’t notice if a table decoration isn’t there or doesn’t match. They will remember the overall effect and the fun and the warmth.

I’ll leave you with some jubilee party styling from the 50s, 70s and now.

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