“If the precious, limited hours of my day are used bit by bit in scanning information, I will have less and less time for the attentive, slow, good work of creativity, conversation, and connection that real people and real homes require.” ~Sally Clarkson (The Lifegiving Home)
I’ve been thinking on this quote by Sally Clarkson, especially as we enter such a strange holiday season. “Real people, real homes.” That’s where the real, meaningful work actually happens. It’s a reminder to look around today. Put your phone in a different room, delete your social media apps, and spend time purposefully seeing all the good gifts God has given you; the people that surround you and the home you are privileged to call yours.
“God calls us to practice hospitality as a daily way of life, not as an occasional activity when time and finance allow. Radically ordinary hospitality means this: God promises to put the lonely in families (Ps. 68:6), and he intends to use your house as living proof.” ~Rosaria Butterfield (The Gospel Comes with a House Key)
Christmas is often the one (and maybe only!) time of the year it’s not awkward to knock on your neighbor’s door. Even if you’ve lived in your home six years and still don’t know the names of the family living across the street, it’s never too late to start. Here’s some tips I’ve tried along the way.
-Take a small notebook or sticky note with you when you visit your neighbors. Make sure you introduce yourself and your family members by name. After you leave, write down the names of your neighbors and their family members in your notebook. In the past I’ve left these on the side of our fridge for a few months so I could work on names and remember! Names do matter.
-If you mail out Christmas cards, this can be an easy connection point. If possible, hand deliver the card in person instead of mailing them.
-If you gift any kind of food, send a recipe card with the item. We often don’t know the food restrictions of our neighbors and this is an easy way to make sure that’s covered. It’s also helpful if they love your recipe and want to make it themselves!
-Invite one person (or couple) to join your family this Christmas season for dinner. Maybe it’s the neighbors who won’t be able to travel to see their kids due to Covid this year. Maybe it’s the coworker who doesn’t have any family in the area. Maybe it’s a friend who recently went through a divorce or the single friend who might not be as busy as you think. Even if they say no, never underestimate the power of an invitation to join a family for dinner.
Neighbor Gift Ideas
This doesn’t have to be anything expensive or fancy, but it’s simply another way to initiate conversation and relationship. Here’s some fun ideas I found!
We were actually gifted this from a friend this year! This is a fantastic idea for families with young kids, single moms, the working moms, or even the neighbor running the daycare across the street. Consider throwing in a few extra cookie cutter shapes for larger families.
Who wouldn’t love this cute gift set? Perfect for neighbors, a family from church, teachers, or your grandkids.
If you’re looking for something a little unique and different, this stove top potpourri is perfect.
Gift Card to a local business
Never underestimate shopping small. Here you can be a blessing to both a local business and your neighbor. Buy a few gift cards to the local coffee shop or cafe, a small boutique, or anywhere else that could use the extra support this holiday season.
“Advent is like an alarm going off on our calendar, reminding us to zoom out and consider what really matters in our lives. Advent is a season to stop, take stock, and remember the main thing- to sit at the feet of Jesus and fall so in love again that you feel a burning urgency to give Him everything.” -The Austin Stone
Happy Advent Season, friend!