We live in a day and age where a lot of people don’t know their neighbors. We’re a busy people who are often more connected to our phones than to each other. We might be friends with hundreds of people on social media, but we’re lonely for true connection.
We want people we can share life with. Friends we can count on. And community that we can share with our kids.
Wanna know something?
You have the opportunity to create those friendships and that community right where you live.
In your neighborhood.
On your street.
On either side of your house.
All it takes is some intentionality. And that’s why today I’m going to share with you 19 ways you can connect with your neighbors.
Maybe this is obvious, but smile and speak to the people in your neighborhood. Take your time when you’re checking your mail or bringing your trash can to the curb. Notice who is around, make eye contact, and greet them. Being friendly can go a long way towards connections.
Learn your neighbors’ names.
Knowing someone’s name is a powerful thing. When you address someone by their name, it makes them feel seen and builds a bridge even if you don’t realize it. Whether you’re new to a neighborhood or you’ve lived somewhere for years, take the time to introduce yourself to neighbors that you don’t know. Then ask them their names — and remember them.
Hang out in your front yard.
My husband is the best at this. A few years ago, he started playing frisbee or “hot box” with our boys in front of our house. Eventually that morphed into kickball games in the cul-de-sac and before we knew it, all the kids on our street started playing in his nightly ball games, and then the parents, too. Now all of the families with young kids on our street regularly hang out on the cul-de-sac while the kids play. And all of that started with my husband spending time in the front yard instead of the backyard.
Take walks around the neighborhood.
If your neighborhood has sidewalks, go on regular family walks. Your kids can ride bikes or tricycles, and you can greet your neighbors as you go. You’ll start to see “regulars” who are outside gardening or walking, too. It’s a great way to connect!
Welcome new people to the neighborhood.
When you see someone new moving in, go introduce yourself. Or better yet, make them a batch of cookies and take it to them along with a card that has your contact info. They’ll be glad to have already made a friend in the neighborhood.
Set a fire pit in your driveway.
There’s something about a fire that slows down time and draws people together. Gather around your fire pit in the driveway and see how many people come out of the woodworks to visit. Bonus if you own several camping chairs that you can set around.
Whether it’s a progressive dinner or a cookout, be the neighbor who gathers people together for fun. I have a friend who hosts themed parties for every holiday. You don’t have to go all out — just be the one who initiates.
Related: How to Organize a 4th of July Bike Parade
Pitch in to help each other.
Once, when a storm blew through our neighborhood, the guys on our cul-de-sac all got together to help clean up one neighbor’s tree that got knocked down. It would have taken him all day to do it alone, but with all of them working together, it only took an hour or so. It doesn’t have to be huge — it could be as simple as collecting mail or watering someone’s plants when they’re out of town.
Start a supper club.
Find others who enjoy cooking on your neighborhood Facebook page and start a supper club. You can take turns hosting and coming up with themes, and everyone can pitch in each month with food.
Put a Turquoise Table in your yard.
Kristin Schell came up with this amazing idea and tells about it in her book, The Turquoise Table. She found herself in a busy season of life but decided that she could easily make time to spend with the people who lived near her. She painted a picnic table turquoise, put it in her front yard, and as she spent time there with friends, it became a gathering place for her neighborhood. Since then, hundreds of Turquoise Tables have popped up across the U.S. and the world. Read more at Kristin’s website.
Invite kids for playdates.
Whether they’re preschoolers or teenagers, kids give you a great reason to get to know someone. Invite the kids (and moms) over to play after school or for lemonade and a snack.
Take your neighbors gifts during the holiday season.
Spend an afternoon making something yummy to celebrate the season and share the batch with your neighbors. They will probably be both surprised and touched that you thought of them. You can try one of these neighbor Christmas food gifts!
Start a walking club.
Whether you start a huge group or just get a small group of neighbor friends, walking together gives you plenty of time to visit and get to know each other while also getting some exercise. Kill two birds with one stone!
Use your pets to make friends.
If you have a dog, you know what I’m talking about. Dog owners love to talk about their furry friends, and pets are a great conversation piece (kinda like kids). Let your pets be the gateway to friendship with your neighbors.
Take meals when you know they could use them.
A couple of years ago, one of our neighbors suffered from a cerebral stroke. Because she was incapacitated for so long, we organized a Meal Train for their family so that they didn’t have to worry about cooking for a few weeks. If you know that one of your neighbors is going through something difficult, why not take them a meal? You might want to check to see whether any family members have any food allergies first.
Start a book club.
Use that Facebook page again and find other bookworms in the neighborhood. Choose a book and then gather each month to discuss it.
Host a block party.
Invite all the people who live on your street to a block party. Provide the main dish and ask everyone else to bring a side or a dessert and enjoy spending a couple of hours together visiting and getting to know each other better.
Borrow and lend freely.
Do you know your neighbors well enough to borrow a cup of sugar when you run out? While you can let your neighbors know that they can borrow anything anytime they need to, sometimes it takes being vulnerable yourself first. The next time you run out of butter or need an egg, text a neighbor or ring their doorbell and ask if they have some you can borrow. Then, the next time they’re in need, they’ll feel free to ask you. Men can do the same with tools.
Invite families over for dinner.
It doesn’t have to be fancy — in fact, you can start small, like inviting them over just for ice cream cones. People are honored and often taken back when you invite them over, and it’s a great way to show interest in getting to know someone better.
Sign up for the 5-day Invite Them Over Challenge for all kinds of tips and ideas!
Whether in big ways or small, connecting with your neighbors doesn’t have to be hard. It just takes intentionality and time. And any time you invest in relationships is time well-sent. Do you agree?
Made friends with my new neighbors when they asked me for a corkscrew 🙂 Now we occasionally meet for a glass of wine or invite each other for dinners.
Love it! I’ve been that neighbor borrowing a corkscrew before — ha! Those little things add up when you’re getting to know someone. 🙂
Lindsey McGrath says
We have horrible neighbors! What do we do when that happens?!?
That’s hard, Lindsey. Is there any hope of making peace? If you wanted to take that first step, you could always take them some kind of holiday treat and say, “I know we got off on the wrong foot, but I just wanted to wish you happy holidays.” And leave it at that. You could just say you wanted to wish them happy holidays with the treat — it may even disarm them. But if you don’t have any obligation to your neighbors if you don’t feel like you get along. If you’re in a neighborhood, maybe you could reach out to others you know outside of your street instead.