By: Laura Gaskill
Being part of a welcoming community makes daily life so much more pleasant. Whether you are already friends with your neighbors or want to get to know them better, these ideas for simple parties and heartfelt gestures will help strengthen those bonds.
Welcome a neighbor with a thoughtful gift. Make the new arrivals feel at home with a small but thoughtful gift, hand delivered to their door. It doesn’t need to be store bought — bring cut flowers from your yard, homemade cookies or a jar of pickles or jam. The old-fashioned feel will be sure to charm them.
Help a neighbor in need. Whether you help an elderly neighbor carry in heavy groceries or bring a home-cooked meal to a family with a newborn, gestures of support mean a lot.
Host an open house or a potluck. If you’d like to throw a party and invite the neighbors, consider doing an open house or a potluck. Having several hours with people drifting in and out puts less pressure on you, and asking folks to bring a dish to share is a great way to get to know people (and avoid lots of cooking).
Host a backyard movie night. Some of the new mini projectors that connect to a smart phone are more reasonably priced than the full-size models. With a projector and a big white sheet or blank wall, you can be up and running in no time. Ask people to bring their own blankets or chairs to sit on and snacks to share — it’s more fun that way.
Sit on the porch. Hanging out on the front porch, whether first thing in the morning with a mug of coffee or after work with a cold drink, is a great way to bond with neighbors. If you are new to the neighborhood, hanging out on your porch is a low-key way of making yourself approachable to neighbors who might want to introduce themselves, but aren’t likely to come knocking on your door. Smile, wave and say hi to those who pass your door.
Share the bounty from your fruit tree or vegetable patch. Have a windfall of lemons? A bounty of zucchini? Pack up a basketful and carry it to your next-door neighbors for them to enjoy. Maybe they will surprise you later with a few juicy tomatoes or sweet strawberries of their own.
Organize a block party or yard sale. Or both! Neighborhood yard sales can pull in a lot of traffic, boosting sales all around. Pick a date and make up some flyers inviting your neighbors to participate. When the big day approaches, list the sale on Craigslist and get help putting up signs on nearby streets. And since you’re all going to be outside anyway, why not cap off the yard-sale day with a big block party? Drag the barbecue into the front yard, put some music on and share a meal together.
Have a progressive dinner party. Another fun way to connect with neighbors is by organizing a progressive dinner party, where you start at one house (say, for appetizers), then move to another house for soup, a third for the entrée and so on. That way each person is responsible for only one dish — and moving from house to house makes it a really memorable experience.
Work together to improve your neighborhood. If there are things you wish could be better about your neighborhood, get involved with your neighborhood association and talk with neighbors to see what you can do about it. Good communities are made, not born.
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