Create a happy, vibrant community by getting to know the people around you.
A friendly wave and an occasional “Hello” are great, but when you reach out, shake someone’s hand, and introduce yourself, a real bond begins to form. If you’re new to the neighborhood, ask questions about favorite restaurants or nearby parks. If you are the one who’s been in the neighborhood for a while, share a few suggestions that can help newbies get a feel for the community.
Host a Meet and Greet
Break out the name tags and invite the neighbors over to get to know one another. Try a potluck-style dessert bar. Chatting over sweet treats gives everyone a chance to talk about where they’re from and what they do for work, but it doesn’t require a big-time commitment. (Plus, dessert is a fan favorite for everyone in the neighborhood, from ages 1 to 101.)
While it’s important to meet your neighbors face-to-face, you can also grow your relationships through social media. Busy schedules make it difficult to catch up in person, but congratulating them via text or email on a promotion at work or wishing them happy birthday can mean a lot. Additionally, websites and apps like NextDoor and LotsaHelpingHands are designed to help neighbors stay in touch more easily or support families who need extra help.
Lend a Helping Hand
If you notice a neighbor struggling to start their lawn mower or see someone who has locked their keys — and mobile phone — inside their car, offer to help. Loan them your mower for the day. Offer your phone for them to call a locksmith. Helping a neighbor in need builds good will. (And it just may come in handy to have a pal next door when your snow blower dies next February.)
Spending time outdoors is a great way to meet the neighbors. But if you don’t live on a street with front porches and wide sidewalks, it can be difficult to find a way to connect. One simple idea is “Front Yard Fridays.” Make a picnic out of whatever you’re eating for dinner on Friday night. You may feel silly at first, but soon you’ll have people dropping by to say hello or to join you for a meal alfresco.
Arrange a Neighborhood Swap
Kids grow quickly, and arranging a clothing swap among neighbors helps parents stay on budget and meet some new friends. Boxing up a few toys and rotating them from house to house is a fun way for the kids to play with something “new” — and another great way to stretch a dollar. Swaps aren’t just for parents. If you’re cleaning out the shed and discover you have five similar shovels, consider organizing a tool swap.
If you’ve been in the neighborhood for several years and taken time to get to know everyone, you can help new neighbors make valuable connections that foster a sense of community. Introduce pet-loving new neighbors to the couple down the block with a dog-walking business. Match a retiree with a DIY guru to help with small projects around the house. Share the number of a teacher who offers tutoring lessons to parents.
Start a Garden
Gardeners love to share. They share advice, tools, and produce. If you start a garden, or just spend some time sprucing up your landscape, you’re likely to buddy up with other green thumbs in the neighborhood. If you’re a novice, listen and accept the guidance of veteran gardeners on how to keep the bunnies away and when to trim the rose bushes. And if you’re a gardening pro, you’ll generate a lot of goodwill by sharing perennial transplants, starter plants, and the abundance of tomatoes and zucchini you grow.