11 June 2017

The Big Lunch is only a week away! The weather is set to be fantastic, people are signing up in the thousands, and there's a real appetite for coming together and getting to know our neighbours. You don't want to miss out on what's set to be the UK's biggest ever community celebration!

The good news is, it doesn't take weeks of planning to host a Big Lunch. Here's how to organise a shin dig in only a week.

Four people chat and laugh on their street, one of the women is holding a list

Step 1: Choose a venue

For most councils, it's too late to organise a road closure now, but you can hold a Big Lunch anywhere: a park, a driveway or layby, the village hall – even your back garden! Whatever the venue, make sure you get the relevant permission and remember that you are responsible for whatever happens there on Big Lunch day.

Step 2: Invite your neighbours

People are the most important part of a Big Lunch, so head out with an invite or simply knock, stop and chat! Put some posters up on lamp posts, and don't forget a bit of pavement promotion with the chalk! We know it can be daunting, especially if you don’t know your neighbours at all, but we hear so many stories of people who were so grateful that one of their neighbours had taken the plunge! Keep it simple and ask everyone to bring a dish to share and their own plate and cutlery. You could ask odd letterboxes to bring savoury and even letterboxes to bring sweets, or you could ask them to bring their signature dish, or a traditional favourite (always a good conversation starter). Be sure to ask others if there's anything else they'd like to help out with; perhaps others want to get involved: a spot of face painting, a jam on the guitar, or perhaps they have a portable gazebo they can set up.

A woman giving a girl a henna design.

Step 3: Planning for the weather

The good thing about planning a Big Lunch in under a week is that you'll have a fair idea of the forecast. And for most of the country, it's looking pretty good! We don't want to jinx anyone by pointing out our wet weather Big Lunch ideas, but it's always good to be prepared! And, if you are blessed with sunshine, make sure there's plenty of water around, some shade and remind everyone to bring along a bottle of sunscreen.

A boy jumping in a puddle.

Step 4: Decorations

Decorations don’t have to be fancy or costly, half the fun is in the making! Bunting, tablecloths and paper chains can all be made at home and are a great way to get children together and involved in The Big Lunch. If you have children why not ask a teacher if they could make some decorations in art class? Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring tables and chairs – many people have old garden furniture that could use a little love! Now’s also a good time to gather any materials you might need for games and activities!

Girl hanging up bunting.

Step 5: Food, hygiene and waste

You've asked everyone to bring a dish and something to eat it with. As organiser, see if you can bring along some lables so people can indicate whether their dishes have any allergens. See if anyone has a cooler to keep food and drink chilled, or simply ask guests to bring main dishes out when it's time to eat. Bring some rubbish bags to keep the place clean afterwards, and divvy out leftovers among guests so that food doesn't go to waste. Check out some tasty recipes and our zero waste tips too.

Folks in Hemsworth putting on a sensational spread!

Step 6: The big day

It's time to get the party started! Break out the bunting, bring along some tunes, and feel the community spirit take over! Take plenty of photos, eat plenty of food and share stories with the people around you – the perfect Big Lunch day!

You can order a free digital Big Lunch pack here for more information on what it's all about and how to get involved!