The people who you will encounter the most besides your friends and family are probably your neighbors. Whether you are living in a condo, apartment, or your own home, you will likely see your neighbors at least a few times a week, if not more.
Given that we live close to our neighbors, it might be a surprise that some people (around 15%) don't know their neighbors' names. This number is more for thirty-somethings. About a quarter of this group of people don't know any of their neighbors by name. Interestingly, baby boomers and young millennials (adults between 21 and 29) are the generations who know the most people in their neighborhood.
Giving gifts to neighbors is a great way to meet new neighbors and build friendships with people you might have seen around for years. Read on to learn how to get to know your neighbors and when and what gifts will get you labeled as the “best neighbor.”
When Might We Want to Give Gifts to Our Neighbors?
Anytime is a good time to give a neighbor a gift. Seriously, who does not like getting gifts, especially if it is unexpected?
Besides giving surprise gifts, you can give your neighbors gifts on more “traditional” gift-giving days. Here are some occasions when you may want to give gifts to your neighbors.
You can quickly start a good relationship with a new neighbor by bringing them a gift soon after they have moved into the neighborhood. Or you can take the initiative if you are new in the area. For example, bring a small gift to some of your neighbors when you go over to introduce yourself to them.
Even if the person is not hosting a housewarming party, you could pop by and take them a housewarming gift. Chocolates are almost always a hit, as are fun gifts that might invite your new neighbors to get involved in the local community (like tickets to the community theatre's latest show). Find some great housewarming gift ideas here.
Thank you gifts
A small gift to say thank you to a neighbor is a great way to build your relationship. Consider giving a neighbor a small gift (like a bar of chocolate) to say thank you for watching your home, pets, or kids.
Thank you gifts are especially lovely when they are unexpected. For example, you could just give your neighbor a thank-you gift to express your general gratitude and appreciation for them instead of gifting it for a specific reason.
Include your neighbors on your holiday gift list. If you are close to your neighbor and their family members, you can purchase them each a Christmas gift to wish them a Merry Christmas. However, if you are more acquaintances than friends, you may want to give one Christmas gift to the family as a whole instead of to each individual member.
Suppose you are celebrating a Friendsgiving with your neighbors. In that case, you could give the host a Thanksgiving gift to show your gratitude for having them in your life and for the meal they have prepared for you.
Be considerate of your neighbors' religion and whether they celebrate certain holidays or not. For example, while giving Christmas gifts is a widely practiced tradition, not everyone celebrates this holiday. For example, Jewish people will likely not celebrate Christmas. In this situation, it would be more appropriate to give the family a Hanukkah gift instead. If you’re not sure, start up a conversation with your neighbors—friendships are strengthened when you make the effort to know and understand a person and their traditions.
Sympathy gifts are given when someone is going through a difficult time or has recently lost a loved one. They show that you are thinking of them and quietly provide support. An expensive gift isn’t necessary. Many people grieving say they find comfort simply from someone checking in or letting them know someone is thinking of them during a hard situation.
What Are the Best Gifts for Neighbors?
The gift you give your neighbor depends on who they are and the type of relationship you have with them. Remember that the best gifts are usually something thoughtful and useful. Homemade gifts like Christmas cookies, mason jars, hot cocoa, and cookie mixes are great neighbor gift ideas.
A new neighbor might appreciate baked goods or a home-cooked meal—especially if they are still in the middle of the chaos of moving in. Similarly, a welcome-to-the-neighborhood gift box filled with small, thoughtful gifts can help you make friends quickly.
If you know your neighbors well, a gift that speaks to their personality or something that you know they love (interestingly scented soap or extravagantly flavored tea, anyone?) is a great idea for a neighbor gift.
You can add a personal touch to a neighborly gift by including a heartfelt note or letter telling them why you think they are a great neighbor. These are easy to add to a free printable tag. These gift tags can be customized and spruced up by adding some glitter or using a pretty ribbon or string to attach them to the perfect gift.
Other neighbor gift ideas could include chocolate, personalized coffee mugs, gift cards, or card games.
How to Get to Know Your Neighbors
Whether you are new to the neighborhood or have been living there for a while, here are a few ideas of things you can do to get to know your neighbors.
It is nice to be welcomed into a new neighborhood by a caring neighbor. Bringing a gift makes the gesture even more special. If you are new in the neighborhood, you could also pop over to a few neighbors to introduce yourself.
Volunteer or do community service
Volunteering or doing community service gets you out of the house and engaging with others in your community. You can volunteer at a food bank, homeless shelter, animal shelter or adoption center, retirement home, or long-term care facility.
Other activities you can do at your local parks and recreation department include:
- Teaching classes.
- Working at events held at a park.
- Helping with the general maintenance of parks and gardens.
Sometimes the National Park Service issues interagency volunteer passes to volunteers who have accumulated more than 250 service hours. These passes can be used to enter certain national parks for free.
Community centers could always use volunteers. For example, you could work with youth by helping with homework or assisting with after-school programs, or hosting arts and crafts classes. Other tasks could include general maintenance or gardening.
Start or join a community garden
A community garden is a great way to get out of the house, soak up some sun and get your hands dirty while meeting new people and working toward a common goal. Besides bringing a community together and increasing food security, having a community garden can increase the surrounding property values by almost 10%.
Get involved in a hobby or club
Sharing a hobby with others can make it more fun and motivate you to do what you love. Life gets busy sometimes, and often we tend to put our hobbies or activities that seem frivolous on the back burner. Having a group of friends who can remind you to do something you enjoy, have some fun, and relax, will help you maintain some balance in your life.
Throw a party
The great thing about hosting a neighborhood party is not only that you make new friends and memories but that you will likely be on a bunch of invite lists afterward.
Basic Neighbor Etiquette
Good neighbor etiquette is not very different from how you would interact with others in other social settings or in your larger community. Being polite and having good manners show people you respect and value them. Here are a few things you can do if you want to be a great neighbor.
Be friendly and approachable
A simple “Hello” and “How are you?” whenever you see your neighbor shows them that you notice them and that they are important to you. It shows that you are friendly and approachable and could open the way for a friendship, or at least a friendly relationship.
Don't show up unannounced
You don't need to make an appointment with your neighbor days in advance. However, a quick call to check whether now is a convenient time to drop by should convey to them that you value and respect them and their personal space.
Only stay as long as you are welcome. Few people feel comfortable telling someone that it is time they go home. It is almost always awkward when you have guests who do not want to leave. Look out for signs that the visit is coming to an end and act on those ques. Even if someone enjoys your company, they may hesitate to invite you over again if they feel as though you outstay your welcome.
Your neighbors are the people you will likely see most often because you live near each other. Even if you aren't good friends, you will see each other at least a few times a week.
Keeping good relations will avoid unnecessary arguments, disagreements, and conflict. Being considerate is an easy way to stay on good terms with your neighbors.
If you live in a community where you share common areas with your neighbors, keep these areas neat and clean, especially after you've used them. Report any damage or concerns to maintenance or the property's management.
Be considerate about where and how you dispose of your trash. Use the correct containers for trash and recycling, and place everything securely so that nothing can get blown away by the wind.
Keep noise levels down, especially late at night and early in the morning. If you will be hosting a party and anticipate making more noise than usual, consider letting your neighbors know beforehand and agree on a time when you will turn the music down. This will help your neighbors be prepared and let them know that the racket won't go on all night.
When using noisy equipment like power tools, lawnmowers, and leaf blowers, do so at reasonable times. No one likes being woken up at 7 AM on a Sunday morning by the sound of an inconsiderate neighbor's power tools.
Be aware of where your kids are and let them know where they can and cannot go. Remind them that while it is okay to be noisy, they need to consider the people living around them.
Pet owners must ensure that their pets cannot freely run around the neighborhood. Be sure to clean up after them when you take them for a walk, and don't allow them to damage your neighbor's property.
Distrupting behavior like continuous barking and animals behaving aggressively to others in your neighborhood could cause strained relationships between you and your neighbors.
Don't ask for free things
It is generally considered rude to ask for something, especially if you expect it for free. This goes for asking for things as well as services. Making use of your neighbors' services, hoping to get it for free or at a highly discounted rate, could make them feel used. Don't ask a doctor for a free consultation or medical advice, or ask a lawyer for free legal advice.
The same goes for neighbors who have small businesses, offer classes, or are good at making something like pies or craft items.
You can, however, make use of their expertise if you make an official appointment and pay them their going rate or if they freely offer their services. Be up front with each other about what the cost will be. If it’s more than you expected, it’s always better to kindly decline and express your thanks than to get into a potentially awkward situation.
Respect their personal space
Even if you made an arrangement to go over to a neighbor's home, it is polite to be invited in before entering their home. Unless you have a very close and casual relationship, it is best to wait until you have been asked to enter.
Don't help yourself to food or drinks unless they have been offered. Your neighbor's home is not an extension of your own, and you need to respect their space.
If you live close to your neighbors, give them as much privacy as possible. It is not always possible in these situations, but try not to eavesdrop on their conversations or look into their private space.
While you cannot always avoid hearing or seeing something that should have been private, you can still respect your neighbor's privacy by not mentioning what you witnessed to your neighbor or anyone else.
Why Is It Important to be Close to Your Neighbors?
You don't need to be friends or close to your neighbors. Some people just enjoy keeping to themselves and prefer not to mingle too much with others. Even so, there are some great benefits to being friends (or at least friendly) with your neighbors.
It makes the neighborhood safer
Neighbors who are on good terms can look out for each other. They are more likely to pay attention to what is happening in the area and could alert you to any suspicious activity they may pick up.
If you get along well, you could ask your neighbor to keep an eye on your house or even pet sit when you are out of town or at work during the day.
More than that, socializing with your neighbors or just spending time outside could make your neighborhood safer. Communities where people spend more time outside, fixing up and improving the neighborhood, could see a drop in the crime rate.
Besides just being outside and enhancing the area, neighbors could organize a neighborhood watch. This allows you to form stronger bonds with your neighbors while keeping your community safe.
It’s great when you need to borrow a cup of sugar
If you have a good relationship with your neighbors, you could help each other out. For example, a friendly neighbor would be a lot more willing to give you a hand with something or even lend you a cup of sugar or other necessity if you need it.
Remember that this goes both ways, and be ready to return the favor when they need your help.
It makes for great socializing closer to home
Living close to each other could expose you to persons who you would not have met otherwise. For example, your neighbors may not go to the same church as you, do the same hobbies as you, or have kids going to the same school as yours.
In fact, you might be so different and your lives so far removed from each other that the only reason you met is because you live near each other.
While most people make friends with people who are similar to them—it's just easier if you already have some things in common—strong friendships could grow between people who are completely different.
You could learn a lot from someone with different interests and points of view from your own. You can be exposed to new ways of doing things or new hobbies. Your neighbors can even introduce you to new people who might become close friends.
Your neighbors may be a lot more accepting of noise if you invite them to your parties. This is a great way to get to know them even more and widen your social circle. The bonus here is that you will likely be invited to their parties or other social events in the future.
You can get help with family responsibilities
Our lives can get a bit hectic, and sometimes we may need someone to help out. A neighbor with whom you are on good terms can help by picking up your kids from school or watching them if you need to attend to an emergency.
How Can Spoonful of Comfort Help Me?
Our team at Spoonful of Comfort can help you put together the perfect neighbor gift for your favorite neighbor. Our range of gift packages is sure to make you the best neighbor in terms of gift giving. We have care packages for most occasions, including sympathy packages, packages that tells your neighbor you are thinking of them, and self-care packages. Our soup delivery packages are especially popular, and we have some great options for last-minute (Christmas) gifts.
You will soon be known as the best neighbor if you make a little bit of effort to get out and get to know people, practice good neighborly etiquette, and if you give thoughtful neighbor gifts.
You don't need to wait until Christmas Eve to give your neighbor gift—although giving out a neighbor Christmas gift is a great way to spread Christmas cheer. Instead, give gifts at random times. It shows your neighbors that you value them and want to show your appreciation.
This could strengthen your relationship with your neighbors, making your community safer and enhancing the general feeling of belonging to a community.