If it is your turn to stay put this year, then chances are you’re going to have the opportunity to welcome somebody into your community. In this month’s book club selection, This is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are, Melody Warnick suggests that to feel a sense of belonging in our communities, we should get acquainted with everybody who lives in homes that we can see from our front porches.
Getting acquainted is easiest when people first move in. If too much time goes by things just get awkward. “Hi, I’m Kimberly. You moved in three months ago, but I thought I would come introduce myself.” At that point, it’s easier to just nod and wave and never really get acquainted.
For me, it takes a bit of courage to introduce myself, so I like to take a little something with me to help start the conversation. Historically, I’ve taken food, but you can’t tell what people eat. My husband and I have been vegetarians for our entire lives, so if somebody shows up with a plate of meat sandwiches, we have to speak up because we’re neighbors and they’ll probably find out someday so we couldn’t just accept the food to be polite and then feed it to our dog.
As the moving trucks are packing up our neighbor’s things, I’ve been starting to compile a list of things that would be good to welcome the new neighbors that move into those houses. I would love to hear your ideas too!
Flowers in a Mason Jar
I love finding inexpensive grocery store/farmers’ market flowers, cutting the stems short, and placing them in a Mason jar. This makes a nice welcome gift for new neighbors because fresh flowers boost your spirits and make you feel at home even when you’re swimming in boxes. The Mason jar is something the neighbors can keep so they don’t have to worry about returning a vase, and they don’t have to dig out a vase of their own. If you tie a note around the neck of the jar with a pretty ribbon they’ll have a good way to remember the names of your family.
I grew up in a pretty informal house where guest books were for baby showers and weddings. Now they show up at apartments our boutique hotels where we sometimes vacation. I’ve always thought it would be kind of neat to have one for every home to show who came to visit, when they were there, why they came, and maybe even a note from my guests, so that after I move away I have some on-paper memories to take with me. If we were to gift neighbors with guest books, maybe they would feel like they’ve just moved into a neighborly place where people like to get together. Choose a spiral bound journal that can easily stay open on a table. Write the name of the town, the date, and a nice welcome on the first page. Include your contact information so they can easily be in touch.
An old friend recently sent me on a friend date with somebody that moved to my area. We enjoyed lunch together and afterwards I sent her a message with my favorite grocery stores marked on a map. On a recent trip to Amsterdam, our host marked a paper map with where we were staying plus some tourist sites, cafés, and markets. We actually went to all of the places marked and were delighted by the good recommendations. I thought that would be a fun way to welcome neighbors that have probably researched jobs, schools, and activities but they may not have all of the word-on-the-street recommendations for the neighborhood’s best places to go. Offer to go get some coffee or tea when your new neighbor is feeling settled or just needs a break.
Gym/Studio Schedule + Pass
People tend to fall off of their fitness routines when they move and taking a class together is a great way to get acquainted. You could give them a paper copy of your favorite studio or fitness facility, a guest pass, and an open invitation to join you at the time you usually go. Then you have low pressure way to connect, and you’ve contributed to someone else’s wellness. Who knows, they might suggest a class you’ve always been meaning to try!
Some Quiet Time
One of the best things new neighbors have done for me was coming over with their children to introduce themselves and inviting my daughter to play with their kids while I got some unpacking done. The kids played outside nearby so I didn’t have to feel weird about my daughter going to a stranger’s house and she made instant friends. It was a win-win for everybody!
Your challenge this PCS season is to go out and meet your new neighbors, and even old ones if you’re brave. Comment below with how it went and other ideas you have for welcoming newcomers. Share photos on Facebook or Instagram using #IDthrive.