The moving truck is gone; there are signs of life coming from the house down the street. It could be another military family or maybe it’s a civilian family. Regardless, as a military spouse, we know what it feels like to be the new family on the block. So, why not build some good karma and be the first to welcome them?
Make a difference to a new family by giving them a little welcome to the “hood” gift.
Here are nine simple, creative and inexpensive gifts and gestures that will surely make someone’s day!
1) Take-Out Menus (with a side of Take-Out) – A classic welcome to the neighborhood gift is a delivering a stack of your favorite take-out menus from local restaurants to your new neighbors. Take it one step further and deliver your stack of menus with a side dish or pizza from your favorite take-out place. The gift of take-out is a practical and thoughtful gesture.
2) Buy a Watermelon – A clever gift that says “Hello!” is delivering a watermelon (or pumpkin, depending on the season) on their doorstep. Before delivering, grab a Sharpie and write your last name and phone number right on the side of the watermelon. Deliver it with a little note with your full name, contact information and names and ages of your kids. It’s a great and easy gift that new families will love.
3) Box of Play – If your new neighbors have children, deliver a box of full of activities to the children. Items like crayons, coloring books, small toys, puzzles, snacks or tween magazines and iTunes cards, give them the new kids on the block a little pick-me-up after a stressful move.
4) A Book of Knowledge – A great gift to a new family is a book of local resources. Pass on the numbers of your favorite babysitters, your local doctors and hair stylists. It might be a nice gesture to mention housekeeping things like garbage, recycling or local post office info. Adding numbers and websites of local kids clubs like Scouts, Parks and Recreation or sports groups will help the kids settle in. These are the first things a new family will need once they are settled. Pairing the notebook with a bottle of wine or baked goods will add a nice touch.
5) A Bucket of Clean – If a new family happens to be a military family, they will most likely need to restock their cleaning supplies. Since the movers rarely pack opened cleaning supplies, filling a cleaning bucket with a few good products will be a much-appreciated gift. Add a nice note or slip in a bottle of wine in the bucket to add a little relatable humor.
6) Creative Packaging – It’s the thought that counts, so why not give your new neighbors small gift with a creative twist. Add a bit of humor by tying a hammer to a wine bottle with a note of welcome, a hot pad or oven mitt tied to a spatula, a coffee cup with a Starbucks gift card inside, a baguette wrapped in a new dish towel with a small jar of jelly – the ideas are endless.
7) Decorate the Door – Nothing says welcome to the neighborhood like a gift of door décor. Giving a welcome mat, door wreath, plant or birdhouse with a little note of “welcome” is a thoughtful and handy gift for any family.
8) From My Kitchen to Yours – Delivering baked goods to a new family is the most traditional way to say hello. A simple plate of cookies or fresh fruit is all you need to make someone smile. However, there are ways to spice up a basket of goodies – pick a theme like ice cream sundae’s, popcorn and movie, wine and cheese, s’mores, pancakes and deconstruct it. Give them a basket full of all the fixings a family would need to make an ice sundae, movie night, date night, s’mores or breakfast. Be fun and creative! Chances are the clever gift will be shared by the entire family.
9) Pantry Starter Kit – As a military family, we know that with every move we’ll have to restock our pantry. A super thoughtful and functional welcome gift is a starter kit for their pantry. Fill a basket with a bag of flour, olive oil, cooking spray, sugar, condiments, salt and pepper, and a few spices. It will be a great way to connect with another military family after a PSC.
*A previous version of this article appeared in Military Spouse Magazine.