Neighbourhood: How to prepare your Coronation street party

This is my 4th street party, that I’ve helped organise. Two were when we lived in Acton, and theirs has now become a yearly occurrence, with a slush fund, DJ and kids activities, plus bake-off, hands-free donut-eating races and karaoke. One American family was gung-ho for a dunk-tank, something they do on such occasions, but we made unenthusiastic noises about drownings and cold weather.

If you’re feeling up for a Coronation street party, be prepared it is a lot of work, there’s no doubt, but worth it. I’ve pulled together the best practice below for you to start the ball rolling.

  1. Sounding out the neighbours

This has to happen slowly, you know how the British move. You approach your little network, see how the land lies, and they moot it on. Then approach the matriarchs, the ones who know lots of people, have lots of house keys, have been there an age and are retired. If you have 2-3 of them on board, the deal is sealed.

street party sw1 event

2. Have a first meet-up

Invite the matriarchs only, a babel of ideas is not helpful. Street parties can be as low-key or as flash as you like, but you have to gauge the character of your community. If there’s no fund, then keep it simple – BYO (Bring your own) food and drink to share, and furniture essentially. Will you try for a tombola to raise funds for next year (not a Coronation street party but some other  event) maybe? Will you have amped music? Will you invite just neighbours, or go for + families, or + surrounding streets? Decide who will liaise with the Council and who will make the first flier and get it printed and posted to all households. Announce it on your WhatsApp group.


3. Liaise with the Council

There’s a street party form to fill in for Wandsworth, which requires a hand-drawn map of any road closure plans and a copy of the first flier. They have got a bit more anal this year in also asking for proof that your neighbours are actually coming so I had to send WhatsApp screen shots of our enthusiastic responses. Would you really go to all this trouble to end up standing on hte pavement on your own clutching a beer…? We have been given approval.


4. The first flier

It needs to give essential info first, date and time, clarify who’s invited, and BYO info. Be clear where and when the street closure starts so neighbours in that zone can be prepared not to park there and go on holiday at the crucial moment. Let people know what is needed now, and that is bunting, SHEDLOADS of bunting, before it sells out. List up the volunteering you will need; two on the BBQ; a Prince Charles in regimentals; decorating your own house; a sound system; a play list; games for children. The biggest job of all is…


5. Bunting hanging

The height is very crucial. Last year was my first time in charge of bunting and we just guessed by eye what the height should be ideally, to allow for vans to come and go unmolested. But we had not got a grip on the exhaust pipe of our rubbish truck. So the next morning, a small number of very VERY kind neighbours had to hoof ALL our rubbish up to the bin men who made a great scene about not wanting to ruin our lovely installation for fear we complain to the Council. They got a sweetener.


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