Being the new kid on the block can be intimidating or lonely under any circumstance. Since COVID-19 struck and turned our world upside down, close to 4 billion people have experienced lockdowns and limited social exposure. In a study run in late March 2020, 61.5% of people reported that they felt “socially isolated much of the time” and social isolation can play a huge role in mental health. In order to combat this in our communities, we need to focus on new ways we can be social – like welcoming new neighbors and reconnecting with existing ones.
Great neighbors help create a sense of community and make newcomers feel welcomed into that community. Times are quite a bit different right now and we can’t commune as we normally do. This means you likely won’t meet new neighbors at your next HOA meeting or invite them over for a barbecue, but there are still many ways that you can make newcomers feel welcome!
Below we’ve included new-neighbor gift ideas, free welcome printables and other ways to make your neighborhood feel inclusive. Please ensure you follow all of your local health and CDC protocols to keep you and your new neighbors safe.
1. Meet Your Neighbors (At A Distance)
Normally you could knock on your neighbor’s door or volunteer to help them move some boxes, but these days, knowing how to meet your neighbors is a little trickier. There’s no exact measure to know how long to wait to welcome new neighbors but doing so within the first week is generally a good time frame – if they look busy, maybe give them a little more time.
A simple wave and “hello” from across the street can help someone feel more welcome. As long as you maintain social distance, you can also knock on their door and give them a masked “welcome to the neighborhood” salutation too.
2. Share Relevant Neighborhood Info
Safety and sense of community are both really important neighborhood factors that people consider when they’re looking to move somewhere. Help your neighbor feel safe and welcomed by providing them with a list of important local info, including:
- Emergency services phone numbers
- Neighborhood watch and HOA info
- Local charities and grassroots groups
3. Welcome To The Neighborhood Card
Another simple way to make a new neighbor feel welcome is through a greeting card. Simply leave their welcome to the neighborhood card on their porch or stick it in their new mailbox to give them a nice surprise. When you sign off on your card, it could also be helpful to let them know which neighbor you are relative to their house.
4. Invite Them To Join Local Groups Online
Usually people new to an area will seek out local groups and clubs to meet some new friends. Now that we’re not so social in person anymore, online groups are a great way to start to get to know those in your community. After you’ve learned a little bit more about your neighbor’s interests, see if there are any groups or friends you can connect them with. Taking the time to help them build their local network will be greatly appreciated.
5. Give Your Top Local Picks In A Welcome Letter
The hotels and vacation rentals with the best hospitality almost always have local suggestions available for their guests. Using that idea, you can be their tour guide of the area without even having to be there. Write out some of your favorite places to eat (bites), your favorite things to see or do (sights) and any other tips you have about the area (insights).
You could always write your contact info and more tips on the back of your local recommendations, or you could draft up something a little more formal like a welcome to the neighborhood letter to tuck in a mailbox or gift basket, like the template seen below.
Welcome To The Neighborhood Letter Template
Hi [NAME/New Neighbor],
Congrats on your new home, we want to officially welcome you to NEIGHBORHOOD.
[I’ve/We’ve] lived here for [TIME FRAME] and are happy to answer any questions you might have. We hope you’ll love this community as much as we do! Some of our favorite things to do around here are SUGGESTIONS.
We’re excited to get to know you better. If you ever need anything, we can be reached at [CONTACT INFO].
Welcome to the neighborhood,
6. Make An Activity Kit For A Family
If your new neighbors have children, then they’ll be eternally grateful if you can help keep their kids engaged and occupied while they finish up moving or organizing. Of course, you’ll want to consider the children’s ages but some ideas could include:
- Get artsy with coloring books, paint by number, and crayons or pens
- Go crafty with things like blocks, model kits, knitting, calligraphy sets, etc.
- Get something the whole family could do together like a board game
7. Create A Goodie Bag For Their Pet
If you see your neighbors have moved some furry friends in with them, try putting something together that will please both your two-legged and four-legged neighbors. You could make homemade treats or go with something store-bought like a toy – the thought behind it will go a long way.
8. Deliver Food (Be Aware Of Allergies)
The quickest way to your neighbor’s heart just might be through their stomach – remember to consider common food allergies (like nuts) when making your food choice. For contact-free delivery, you could always get food delivered to your neighbor’s house and have the restaurant add a short welcome note from you. Also, remember that they may not have their dishware unpacked yet, so finger-friendly food is a good way to go. Some ideas include:
- Cupcakes or muffins
- Pre-sliced zucchini bread or banana bread
- Burritos and tacos
- Sandwiches and wraps
- Empanadas and hand pies
9. New Neighbor Welcome Box
Really wow your new neighbors with a welcome to the neighborhood gift basket. This could be stuffed with treats and other consumables – bonus points if you source the items from local businesses that they can check out! With people spending a lot of time at home it also makes sense to create more interactive gift baskets. For example, gather the supplies they’d need to bake or create a dish and gift them along with instructions. Of course, some people just want the finished product so use your best judgment.
The different gift basket themes are endless, but we’ve created some gift tags to go along with some common themes:
- Baked goods or a baking kit to facilitate family time
- Wine and cheese basket with the charcuterie fixings
- Cooking essentials basket since they’re moving into a new kitchen
- Jams, preserves and different gourmet nonperishables
- Garden basket with plantable seeds and some potted herbs
10. Offer Your Services Or To Run An Errand
Moving can be very time consuming, so to help take some of the load off, offer to help out with something they need. It could be something more involved like picking up groceries or something simple like pulling their trash can to the curb. If you specialize in something or have a skill to share, consider offering your services. As a bonus, helping others can give you a “helper’s high” that boosts your mood – it pays to pay it forward.
11. Let Them Get Settled In
If your new neighbors seem reclusive or aren’t as receptive to your welcome gestures as you’d like, just give them their space and time to settle in. Buying a new home and moving can be a stressful and busy time. Show patience and understanding – they’ll appreciate your respect for their privacy!
12. Consider Additional Ideas
When life starts to resemble pre-coronavirus times and it’s safe to do so, here are some not-so-socially distanced ideas you can use to welcome new neighbors and create a sense of community:
- Host a block party
- Invite the new neighbors over for dinner
- Arrange a playdate if you both have kids
- Take your dogs to the dog park together
- Invite them to your local clubs and sports meetings
- Offer to help unpack or move boxes
- Invite them to go with you to the park or beach
If you’re unsure of which direction to go in, think about what would make you feel welcome if you were moving into a new neighborhood. Welcome gift ideas for new neighbors don’t have to break the bank – it really is the thought that counts. If you’re going to share property lines, you’ll definitely want to be on good terms. Making your new neighbors feel immediately welcomed is a great first step to cultivating a positive relationship!