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Effective Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors

Updated on November 29, 2012
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Get To Know Your Neighbors

This is the second part of a two-part article. In the first part: Easy Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors, I shared ideas for getting to know your neighbors that can be done easily and without any preparation. In fact, most of you are probably already doing many of those things without even thinking about it. The suggestions in this hub take a little more effort, but we have found the blessings of new relationships far outweigh the time or costs.


Be Hospitable


Invite them over for something you are already doing with your family. This isn't necessarily a formal gathering. When we see a neighbor the week before Memorial Day, we invite him over for a holiday barbeque. Maybe he won’t be able to come, but just the invitation will deepen a friendship. One year we ended up home alone for Thanksgiving; we invited some neighbors over and had a great feast with them. We even learned how to brine a turkey! We have one set of neighbors that often asks us over for ice cream in the summer evenings. Now THAT is a great idea!


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Gifts of Food


Do you have a vegetable garden? If not, skip this paragraph. During my year-of-the-abundant-zucchini, I made zucchini bread and took it to three widows on our block. This year I also have a lot of zucchini and am planning to make tiny loaves of bread for more neighbors. I even borrowed the tiny bread pans from a neighbor :) One of our neighbors brings us home grown tomatoes. I think homemade salsa would be a fun neighbor gift also.


Gifts of Service


One of our neighbors has a snow blower that is big enough to be used on the highway. Well, it’s maybe not quite that big, but it is big. He can snow blow his driveway in just a few minutes. I have frequently seen him snow blowing others’ driveways also. What a timely act of kindness.


Gifts for Social Occasions

It seems like every neighborhood has someone who knows all the gossip about everyone. Ours is a wonderful lady, who puts this information to good use. Several times she has knocked on our door with a card to sign for someone who is going through a hard time. She has also collected a few dollars from each of us to send flowers to a neighbor who just had surgery or to buy a small memory gift for a neighbor whose mom has just passed away.

If your know-it-all neighbor isn't this thoughtful, I'm guessing that she (most of them are "she"s, right?) would still be willing to share the information with you. And you could organize the social gifts.


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Host Neighborhood Get-Togethers


I saved the best idea for last. We hosted a neighborhood soup night the 5 Tuesdays in October this year. We started by passing out invitations to 28 homes for a come and go soup dinner. I borrowed two extra slow cookers from neighbors and made enough soup for a small army each Tuesday. The evenings weren’t fancy at all. But we got to know some really great people and had some good conversations. I can’t wait until our schedules get less busy so we can do it again!



Another plus was that I ended up with lots of left-over soup that I gave to a neighbor who worked late and a friend going through a hard time. And I froze several containers of it for my family to eat later.


A Note for Apartment Dwellers

If you live in an apartment, you are dealing with a different ballgame. My experience in apartments was not always great. And unfortunately my neighbors’ experiences were not always great either! My dishwasher has managed to flood my downstairs neighbors in two different apartment complexes. Being friends with apartment dwellers can be difficult because it is easy to know their bad habits and write them off as crazy or rude. But don't forget that your neighbors also know YOUR bad habits! My sister and brother-in-law are the social coordinators for their apartment complex. Most of these ideas came from them:



Take a box of popsicles out to the pool area or common area whenever you go. Offer them to the parents/kids who know you well already. The others will soon start to trust you and ask for some also!



Host movie nights and game nights, pancake breakfasts, cookie exchanges, and party evenings for different holidays. Or organize a fishing tournament at a nearby pond.



Invite neighbors to community activities. My sister and brother-in-law attend a fantastic church and they often invite neighbors to go with them to services, Bible studies, music programs or the annual Fall Festival. The possibilities are almost endless of community events you could invite a neighbor to attend.



I do hope you think it is important to know your neighbors. So many issues seem to be dividing us these days: politics, food restrictions, language barriers, religions…. But to quote Albus Dumbledore: We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided. (Harry Potter, book 4)

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    • ExpectGreatThings profile image
      Author

      ExpectGreatThings 4 years ago from Illinois

      I didn't realize Mr Rogers was still available! That's fun. I'm guessing your newborn is probably more entertained by you than he is by TV, though :) If you get tired of YouTube, you could check out pbskids.org videos and sesamestreet.org episodes. Both of those have fun things from when we were little too.

    • DIYmommy profile image

      Julie 4 years ago

      With a now-4 month old newborn at home, my husband and I have been trying our best to expose him to quality entertainment. In between naps and feedings, he loves watching Baby Einstein, and my husband has been exposing him to shows we had known as children. He actually found that there are a ton of full length old Mr. Rodgers episodes on YouTube. I bet alot of people don't know that there really is alot of free quality entertainment, albeit from decades ago, that they can find on YouTube free of charge. Great job with this hub and I look forward to reading more!

    • ExpectGreatThings profile image
      Author

      ExpectGreatThings 4 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for stopping by Faith. I agree that dog is a perfect way to get to know neighbors. There seems to be nothing that will bond people quicker than having to be outside in bad weather or late at night because of a dog.

    • Faith A Mullen profile image

      Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

      Good ideas! This is definitely something I need to work on, but I agree it is important. I am in the apartment situation and have found that walking the dogs is the easiest way for me to meet and greet others in the complex.

    • ExpectGreatThings profile image
      Author

      ExpectGreatThings 4 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks Simoninikid! I always appreciate your feedback!

    • SimoniniKid profile image

      SimoniniKid 4 years ago from Beautiful Glen Ellyn, IL

      I so wish I lived in your neighborhood! YOU make a great neighbor! Great ideas and loved the quote at the end. May we all take our "neighborliness" into consideration and become more deliberate as a result of reading this well thought out blog!