Getting to Know the Neighbors

One of the most significant adjustments of your move to a new home will be getting to know your new community. You may have lived in your previous house for some time and have had a good relationship with your neighbors. From acquaintances to friends getting to know new people is not only a part of being a new kid at school. When you move into that new neighborhood, you and your family are the new kids on the block. So how do you get to know your neighbors and start getting comfortable in your community?

There’s No School Like the Old School.

You’ve probably seen movies where folks always pop by to visit a new addition to their neighborhood, welcoming them and possibly dropping off a plate of cookies or fudge. Believe it or not, people in a community honestly did do this at one point in time. Now there might be a tendency not to want to bother your neighbor or to feel standoff-ish from engaging a new person. When you settle into a new home, you might not get the welcome wagon you were secretly hoping for from your new neighbors. So, turn the tables and in a way, welcome yourself to the new neighborhood by welcoming them as part of your community. Is there a dish you make well? Brownies, pasta salad, casserole? Consider making a few mini dishes, take them around to your neighbors and introduce yourself. It is less likely that your neighbors are unfriendly than it is that they simply don’t know the best way to engage with you, so you’ll have to take the first step. Just saying hi and opening your door to them can help pave the way for greater engagement with your community, and even making long-term friends.

Find ways to engage.

Pay attention to opportunities to join the activity in your community. Have you noticed a dog walking group? Ask them whether you and your pup can join up. Visit the local community center to see if there are any leagues or clubs you can join. Find a softball team or book club or neighborhood watch group hosted by someone in your community. Start volunteering in the community garden or school fund drive. It will always take time to become comfortable in a new group, but your new city has just as many ways for you to engage as your last one did, all you have to do is look.

TIP: Do not use your children as a way to force friendships. A big move can be tough on your kids. Forcing playdates with kids whose parents you think you like may not be the best strategy for helping your kids fit into the new neighborhood. Instead, engage with those neighbors on your own time and find other opportunities for your kids to get involved in activities to help them discover their own friends. Sports leagues, community swimming pools, and parks are great ways for kids to play and casually explore new friendships. If they ask you for a playdate be wholly supportive, and who knows, maybe that kid’s parents are a perfect match for you too!

Throw a Party.

Are you used to playing the primary host for neighborhood events? Were you the go-to house for holidays, fundraisers and Sunday afternoon football? If you want to establish your home as a welcoming environment for your neighbors, you have to start hosting! After you’ve met your neighbors and have engaged with a few of them to learn some common interests, pick a hosting opportunity that includes the most people and start there. Maybe your new community is really into their dogs. Find a neighbor whose dog is having a birthday soon and offer to host it. Use it as an excuse to invite everyone over for doggy themed cocktails, picnic foods, and cute baked goods. Host a game night with a few of the new couples you’ve met and get the word out that your house is open every Tuesday night for tacos and games. Host a Sunday football viewing party that incorporates a BBQ and outdoor activities for kids. People from every walk of life and varied interests make up the fabric of our beloved communities, take a chance—put yourself out there to embrace your community and make new friends.

Whether you’re moving to a new suburb, condominium community or retirement living there are always social opportunities. Speak with your real estate agent about your lifestyle preferences to find the community that best allows you to engage.

Throw Back Coffee for Today

So many of us rush through the drive through each morning and grab a cup of coffee or get to work and pour the black liquid into your special mug. But do we really think about the process of brewing that beverage as part of the enjoyment? In today’s busy hustle and bustle taking the time for yourself and making an excellent cup of coffee can be a relaxing and satisfying process. New machines and fancy appliances promise amazing coffee, but you can get a fantastic result using some of the older technology from the last century.

Percolator of the Past

You may remember your grandparents’ or even your great-grandparents’ funny sounding coffee maker called a percolator. This coffee maker can have an internal electric heat source that heats the water to boiling. You can also buy them where you place them on an external heat source; like when you are camping. The heat source causes the water to circulate through the grounded coffee repeatedly while brewing. The length of time brewed determines the strength of your coffee. While operating, the percolator gives off a pleasant coffee aroma, the end result may be less enjoyable, thus the decline of this process since the 1970s. 

Moka Making Coffee

Often lumped in with the percolator, the Moka, is actually a separate brewing method easy for the home brewer to perfect. Using a drip grind instead of the espresso grind will give you a smooth tasting cup of coffee. The Moka is a stove top method of brewing coffee most of the time but can also be purchased in an electric version. The small 8-sided pot invented in 1933 by an Italian engineer is now a well know design found in many museums around the world. It is designed to use the vapor pressure from the heated water placed in the bottom chamber to push the heated water vapor up through the coffee grounds into the top chamber, producing an excellent cup of joe. Base and top chambers are separated by a gasket that over time may need to be replaced to ensure the safety of operation. The key to this method is to be patient and use a low-level heat. Remove the pot from the heat source when you heard a gurgling sound. Pour your creation into a mug and enjoy with or without additional flavors, sweeteners or creamers.

Try out one of these throwback methods of brewing for yourself today.

Everyone Loves a Party

Everyone loves a party, but it seems everyone loves a Super Bowl party even if they don’t like football. This is a great occasion to get together with family (maybe), and friends (probably). However, have you ever considered that this could be a time to make new friends? There probably are people in your neighborhood, church, work, or parents from your kids’ school that do not have plans, but they would come if you invited them. Maybe use this occasion to expand your friendships, particularly to people that you may have wanted to get to know but never could make it happen. Now is the time!

Now for the party.

If you do not have a large television or two smaller ones viewable from your living area, move to the largest room or maybe even outside (if you’re one of the lucky ones that live where it is warm).

Now for the food.

Consider the usual suspects: lots of chips and dips on the menu. Sodas, iced tea, juice drinks, and of course the alcoholic beverage of your choice can fit in tubs of ice. But from there, try to make it as unique to your style as you can. If you are a foodie make some things that you enjoy. If you are not, then go to the store and there are all kinds of prepared items available.

Breaking out the barbecue is always a good idea even if it’s cold outside. Make some burgers, hot dogs, sausages, or if you want, smoke a pile of ribs or that Southern favorite—brisket. People love ribs and brisket, but it is not something they often make themselves. There will always be some that want chicken, so throw a few legs, thighs, and white meat on the grill as well.;

It’s a smart idea to talk with the people that you invite to see if they have any particular allergies or eating issues. If you go out of your make to make some things that will work for them, you’ll win the hosting prize. The entire idea of a party like this is to gain new friends and create an environment for everyone in the room to have a good time and want to come back next year.

Now, this may seem strange since it is a football game that is the reason for the party, but remember, not everyone likes football! They are actually there for the people. So, if you have board games or card games in the cupboards, take them out and stack them on a table. Some guests will take advantage of those as well. If you do not have games, find out if your any of your friends do and ask them to bring one or two along.

Deserts are a great finish to the day, so have some pies, cupcakes, ice cream or cookies available. Remember, you don’t have to supply all of it. Most often, people are happy to bring stuff, so if they offer, let them. One final point: have available a couple of boxes of baggies, so when people are ready to leave, you can offer them some of the food to take home. Most people like free food, so you can probably get most of the food taken care of, and you won’t have to eat it for the next two weeks.

Create a great environment to make new friends, build old ones and that people look forward to coming to again. If your house doesn’t work for a large group this year, start looking for one now for next year—ask your real estate agent about open house events so you can start seeing what’s available.