If you’ve ever had a new family move in near your home, you’ve had the chance to give them a welcome kit or welcome basket of some type. Do not miss the opportunity to welcome a new neighbor! I recently heard from a family that moved and was not welcomed by their neighbors. So, they created plates of cookies and contact sheets and went and introduced themselves to their new neighbors. I love their heart and example, but I would hope that instance of neighbor apathy would rarely happen. Even when you assemble a welcome packet or gift basket for a new neighbor, there is still the question of what to include. Let me suggest some low-cost ideas that say, "I am glad to have you here as a new neighbor." They are … 1. A dessert from your favorite bakery If you live in the area, you likely know where the best items can be found. Use this basket to showcase a wonderful local treat and include a menu from the business. 2. A local trail map No matter where you live, hiking trails are often within a short drive. Introduce your new neighbors to nearby nature areas by giving them a trail map or guidebook. You can even mark a favorite short hike to give them an idea of where to start. 3. A copy of the local newspaper If your community is lucky enough to have a newspaper, this is a valuable information source for newcomers to learn about the area. Hometown newspapers give details on services, shopping, and other things they might need. 4. A perennial that thrives in your garden If a plant grows in your yard, there's an excellent chance it will grow in a neighbor's yard. A perennial is nice because it'll bloom for years to come, reminding new residents of your kind welcome when they first moved in. When you make the gift, mention why you like this plant for your locale and offer any tips for establishing it. 5. Local delicacies Give your new neighbors a taste of something they can only get in your town/county. Maybe it’s a local honey or fresh fruit. The idea is to tie it into the area so they can connect it with their new home. 6. Take-out menus Even the most avid cook will order dinner during a hectic move-in period. You can spare them the bummer of eating mediocre food from the first place that comes up on Google by sharing menus from your favorite eateries. If you feel generous, include a gift certificate for one or two! 7. A membership to a local institution Give the gift of a local experience by gifting them a membership or a pass to your local historical society, museum, or public garden. If there's more than one, pick one they're less likely to discover on their own. 8. Flowers from your garden Flowers are always a welcome gift, and especially when they are homegrown. Those blossoms will also provide a spot of beauty in the new house. Be sure to put them in a vessel they don't need to return. (For ideas on flower arranging and low-cost vases, register for our Love Your Neighborhood Flower Arranging Workshop.) 9. Something to pop in the oven If you love to cook, a one-pan meal like lasagna or a tray of enchiladas will give your new neighbors a welcome break from fast food or cooking. 10. Something truly practical New neighbors will love these ideas even though they are not traditional gifts. For example, pack up a plastic shower curtain, bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and a bar of soap for the ultimate first night-in-a-new-home gift. Another practical gift is a pack of toilet paper and rolls of paper towels. 11. A personal directory Creating a personal directory for this welcome basket is also helpful for new arrivals! Start with a list of useful phone numbers for local pharmacies, dry cleaners, coffee shops, and stores. Also, list your suggestions for some local restaurants. Consider supplying an address book, so they can organize the information. Don't forget to list your own phone number. If your area has a neighborhood directory with contact information for neighbors, include that too. 12. A home-improvement bucket If you are looking for a gift everyone can appreciate, try filling a bucket with goodies new homeowners usually need. I would include a hammer, screwdriver, nails, screws, extension cords, or a power strip. 13. Home meal kit Nothing beats home-cooked foods. You can make fresh sweets like cookies, brownies, or a pie. If you prefer to buy food items, consider trail mix, popcorn, soft drinks, etc. You can also create a fruit basket for smoothies or provide all the ingredients for a foolproof meal like spaghetti or lasagna. 14. Welcome kits You can find all types of "welcome to the neighborhood" gifts on Amazon and other online stores. You can give these gifts right away or save them for future opportunities, like when you invite them over for dinner. They can also be given as a gift on Won’t You Be My Neighbor Day (March 20) or National Good Neighbor Day (September 28). 15. Include some fun Download The Hopeful Neighborhood Project’s Neighborhood Bingo Cards. It’s a fun game that encourages neighborhood involvement and engagement. Check back here for more fun resources in the coming months! BONUS TIP. A personal note: No matter what you provide, do not forget to include a personal handwritten note. Maybe even add a water-colored page that you turn into a card. Investing time in something like this says that you care. Share your ideas for welcoming new neighbors below.
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