Resource: Block Parties and Poker Nights

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Block Parties & Poker Nights: Recipes and Ideas for Getting and Staying Connected with Your Neighbors is one of my favorite party books and should be read before having a summer block party.

Across the country, folks are rediscovering potluck parties, progressive dinners, and other neighborhood gatherings as a way to forge bonds that endure long after the last dish is cleared away. From small, adults-only get-togethers to neighborhood extravaganzas, Block Parties and Poker Nights has dozens of creative ideas, for fun, fulfilling community events and the tried-and-true dishes that make them so memorable.

• Recipes for salad bars, soup buffets and backyard barbecues
• Welcome baskets for new neighbors and homemade treats to share
• Tips on foods that travel easily
• Ways to support families in times of need with reheatable comfort food
• Celebrations for all seasons, from Fourth of July bashes to Kentucky Derby parties
• Suggestions for starting treasured holiday traditions like caroling parties and cookie exchanges, and
• Everything you need to know to throw a blow-out block party with all the trimmings

Although there are other books on potluck dinners, backyard barbecues, and similar themes, Allen’s clever book is likely to strike a chord with many readers seeking “connection. She does include the block parties and poker nights of the title, but she goes beyond such occasions, starting with a section on “Breaking the Ice,” which includes suggestions on how to welcome a new neighbor or how to meet the neighbors if you’re new (or not so new), and finishing with “Good Times and Bad,” which includes ideas and comfort food for “the tough times,” ways to resolve a conflict with a neighbor or deal with other such crises, and more.

The recipes are fairly standard-there are many old favorites here-but they are usually simple and many of them are easy to make for a crowd.

Author Peggy Allen is a former vice president of Lifetime Television, where she was responsible for all reality programming. Since forming a partnership with another Lifetime alumna, Lisa Nee, Allen/Nee Productions has been responsible for a broad range of television projects. She currently lives with her husband and two children in a suburb of Chicago, where her Kentucky Derby party is a much-anticipated annual event.


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