Not that long ago, my neighbor lent me a bottle of wine when I was in dire need. At 8am. She wasn’t even home. I had to let myself into her house to get it — with her permission, of course. Now before you judge me, I was actually making a roast and realized I was out of wine just as I needed to add that crucial ingredient. After breaking into said neighbor’s house, I then walked back down the street cradling my wine bottle with my two pajama-clad kids in tow. At 8am. Okay, now you can judge me.
But, one of the great things about having good neighbors is that you help each other out in a pinch…the proverbial borrowed cup of sugar, and all that. I love having neighbors like this. Not only do I try to reciprocate whenever I can, I also think it’s important to welcome new neighbors into the community with similar enthusiasm.
There was a time when we welcomed new neighbors with a small gift, baked goods or hand-picked flowers. This kind of welcome is rare these days, but can make newcomers feel even more welcomed because it is so unexpected. Plus, a little goodwill early on can go a long way toward better neighbor relations in the future…like when you need to have that awkward conversation about their dog barking all night long. Or to ask if they can spare any wine first thing in the morning.
So, for better future neighbor relations, and just because you want to be a nice person, here are nine ways to welcome new neighbors into your community…
- Bring a homemade baked good or treat. “Welcome to the neighborhood! I made you a cake.” Sure, it sounds very 1950s, but I would LOVE it if someone brought me a cake. Or cookies. Or muffins. Or really any dessert at all. One modern caveat to this traditional gesture…be sure to include a list of ingredients since allergies are plentiful these days.
- Treat them to a local specialty. Is there a locally made delight that you can share with your new neighbors? This is an especially nice thing to do if your neighbor is not just new to the neighborhood, but a recent transplant to the area. Think outside the box a little. If I were new to the Denver area, I would love it if someone introduced me to Sweet Action Ice Cream‘s salted butterscotch. (You can also grab a pint at Marczyk or The Pasty Republic.) Or some fresh bread from the The Denver Bread Company with Primo blackberry jalapeno preserves. Or Helliemae’s handcrafted, can’t-eat-just-one sea salt caramels. (Watch the blog for an upcoming Meet the Maker post featuring Helliemae’s founder.)
- Drop off your neighborhood or block directory. If you don’t yet have a directory yet, new neighbors are a good reason to start one.
- Wrap up a list of your favorite take-out menus. I love this idea from Dinner: A Love Story. Be sure to circle your favorite dishes.
- Put together a list of your local favorites…parks, restaurants, and other places to see. ThirtyHandmadeDays offers a free Welcome to the Neighborhood printable to make it easy for you.
- Deliver some vegetables, herbs or flowers freshly picked from your garden. If you have a bounty growing in your backyard, sharing this is a lovely gesture.
- Bring a bottle of wine. Personally, I think you can never go wrong with a bottle of wine. Even those who don’t drink themselves may like to keep it on hand for guests or use it as a hostess gift.
- Drop by with a drink to share (if you think they would welcome it). If you see your new neighbors working outside, you might want to drop by with a drink you could share — a 6-pack of beer, a pitcher of iced tea — as you introduce yourself and chat for a few minutes. But, be mindful of their space, and just plan to hang out in front rather than expect an invitation to come in.
- Assemble a traditional housewarming basket. I’ve always loved putting together a traditional housewarming gift where each item has a special meaning: olive oil for health and well-being, salt for spice in their life, wood for stability. Okay, so we skip the broom to keep the house free of evil spirits. (And, um, the presentation theatrics because how strange would that be?) But a gift of a good olive oil and artisan salt (check out any of the local markets featured here for some good options), fresh bread (homemade or locally baked), accompanied by a wooden cutting board and a card explaining the blessing behind each item can be a practical yet beautiful gift.
And, truly, you can show up empty-handed with a warm greeting, and I’m sure your new neighbors will feel just as welcomed. But, for me, if you showed up at my house with a bottle of wine or delicious treat, I will always lend you a cup of sugar and pick up your mail when you’re out of town.