For a starting price of $250 an hour, Ayana Contreras, soul music savant and host of Reclaimed Soul on Vocalo Radio, will get your block groovin’. No budget for a DJ? Contreras suggests this 20-song, family-friendly playlist that is sure to have even your crankiest neighbor bobbing his head.


A high school English teacher by day, Frankie Aces works some impressive sleight of hand. But the real wizardry? Keeping a chaotic cluster of kids fully engrossed for 45 minutes—or, with balloon animals, an hour ($325).


No need to get fancy here. You want something portable and simple to clean but big enough to handle dogs and burgers with ease. Enter the 22-inch Weber Original Kettle grill ($150).

Bounce House

For $325, you can rent a 400-square-foot inflatable mansion—complete with a slide, obstacle course, and basketball hoops—from Jump Guy in Norwood Park.

Face Painting

Artist Sophie Lucido Johnson ($50 an hour) offers four tips for DIYers:

  • • Use a sponge (for color swaths), a large round-tip brush, and a liner brush.
  • • A design that makes the mouth look bigger is always a showstopper.
  • • If a kid requests “something pretty,” go crazy with curlicues, daisies, and glitter.
  • • With toddlers, keep it simple—and fast.


Dos Urban Cantina chef Brian Enyart’s honeydew and cucumber salad

Serves 16 • Prep time: 20 minutes

  • 2 honeydew melons, rinds and seeds removed, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 English cucumbers, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Salt to taste
  • 20 mint leaves, roughly torn
  • Chili powder to garnish

1. Combine honeydew, cucumbers, lime juice, and salt in a bowl.

2. Top with torn mint leaves and a light dusting of chili powder.

Five Mistakes That Will Doom Any Block Party

1If you decide to hire a band, don’t book Insane Clown Posse, no matter how much their publicist begs.

2In most neighborhoods, disrupting a game of cornhole by putting a Roman candle in your opponent’s cargo shorts is generally considered bad form.

3When making room for your steak on the grill, do not toss your neighbor’s lentil patty into the sewer. It’ll clog the drain, and you’ll be forced to call Streets and San.

4Refrain from gossiping about the sweaty, leering creeper who lives up the block, even after he goes home. He has bugged your camping chair.

5Do not, under any circumstances, bring your IPA into the bounce house. A crisp German-style Pilsner pairs much better with terrorizing small children.

BLOCK PARTY PHOTO BY SAVERIO TRUGLIA; Styling: Ricki Hill; Hair and Makeup: Kristina Marie Feyerherm/Nika Vaughan Artists; SALAD PHOTO BY Erika Martinez Rotolo