This past spring, my neighbor-friend and I co-led a Bible study for the ladies in our neighborhood on “Building Rooted Community.” We did a topical study on obeying the “one another” commands in Scripture: love one another, pray for one another, build one another up, encourage one another, be hospitable to one another, etc. One of the ladies who joined us suggested doing something tangible to welcome new neighbors who move into our development. It was such a great way to use the theme of our study toward a service project: something we could do together in our home, that would be kind for “one another” in our neighborhood. Enter: The New Neighbor Welcome Basket! The best part is that it cost less than $10 to make each basket.
We met with a lady who is a realtor in our neighborhood, and pitched this idea to her. She encouraged us to go for it, discussed some welcome things she does for new neighbors as a part of our HOA, and even suggested putting out an all-call for gathering supplies from other neighbors (for the next round of baskets).
We assembled them in a line, and then prayed over them before sending them off with some of the ladies. In total, we made 5 baskets, and our neighborhood usually only has about 5-8 houses turn over in any given year, per our resident realtor, so that’s not too shabby! Since most of the items in the baskets were non-perishable in nature (only the Trail Mix has an expiration date on it), we can easily keep track of what might not be good anymore and/or simply leave it out. We made sure whoever took a basket lived on a different corner/area of the neighborhood so that we could have everything “covered.”
One of the best things about this project is the ability to be intentional about getting out and greeting our new neighbors. The house across the corner from me has gone up for sale, and while I’m sad to see neighbors leave, I’m excited about new ones joining us! The basket is in my dining room waiting for the new owners to buy the house, so I can introduce myself.
We made these baskets together, assembly-line style, from things we either already had at home, or purchased. I got most of my stuff from the Dollar Tree (where everything’s $1). Our total out-of-pocket cost per basket was $10 or less, including the baskets, because of the team effort! For example, since we shop at BJ’s and Costco for our bulk-items, we used a few rolls of paper towels from our 30-pack. Someone else came with toilet paper rolls. A few others had hand sanitizer in small bottles on hand. It was fun to do something for our neighborhood and have time to chat outside of our normal lesson, too!
Here’s a sample of what we put in our baskets, but really, you can put in ANYTHING that you think would be welcoming for a new neighbor! We tried to think of what someone might want on move-in day (maybe they’ve moved from out of state and the truck hasn’t come yet, or maybe they’ve got family coming to help unload the truck and just need a few essentials to get things started that first day.
Here are the items we included, in no particular order:
- Drink koozie (which I hand-lettered Proverbs 17:17 on, because the plain ones from Dollar Tree were so boring! But if you’re not crafty, plain is ok too!) A mug or paper cups are another good option!
- All purpose wipes (Clorox or store brand, whatever you can find or have on hand. Another good option is some all-purpose spray and a microfiber!)
- Paper towels
- Toilet paper
- Paper plates
- Light bulbs
- Door mat (we found some cute Welcome or Hello/Goodbye ones from Dollar Tree)
- Trail mix
- Hand sanitizer or hand wipes (baby wipes could work, too).
- Trash bags
- Dawn dish soap (a 7-oz container of Dawn Platinum was $1 at Dollar Tree!)
- Dish washer detergent pods (we just took a few from our giant Costco jar and put them in a small snack ziplock bag. This would not be a great option if you know they have toddlers since they’re not in a child-safe container) Tide washing machine pods are another option, too.
- Mini notebook (have you ever been in the throes of packing or unpacking and needed to make a list or leave a note?! Or needed paper handy to write down your new neighbor’s name? That’s what we figured this could be used for)
- Embellished hand towel (Again, not everyone has to be crafty, but the pack of hand towels at the dollar store were just plain white. I happened to have some extra ribbon on hand which I sewed onto the ends of the towels. How long will they last? I really don’t know, but hopefully they look cute and it’ll be the thought that counts!)
- Water bottle
- Air freshener spray
- Clothes pins or chip clips
- Bible study flier (or other neighborhood information packet, NextDoor link, or social club coordinator’s email. Since it was the daytime ladies’ Bible study that helped me assemble these, we wanted to include the flier for our Building Rooted Community study — the bonus was it also had our contact information on it. A plain old welcome note is fine, too!)
- Ziplock bags
Have you ever given or received a welcome basket like this? What did you like about it? How would you change or modify this project for your own use? Leave a comment and let me know how it goes if you make one for yourself!