Effective Ways to Get to Know Your Neighbors
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.
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!
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.
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)