This is kind of a strange question I think.
I like to invite people to come over. Occaisionally I’ll invite all the neighbors for a BBQ or party, or I’ll try to invite friends over, sometimes with their kids for a playdate or something. But it seems like more often than not people do not accept the invitation. It seems like people are too busy doing other things and are over scheduled. No one has time to just hang out and talk with others. How do you get to know your neighbors? How do you keep up friendships? Is there something about being a hostess I’m not getting? Instead of inviting a group of people should I just be inviting a few? I don’t know. I just know that I’d like to have friends come over and it doesn’t seem to happen very often. We don’t have any family in the area so that makes it a little hard. I’m not saying I don’t have friends or that no one comes over ever, just that they usually have other things to do. I’m wondering too what would be fun enough that people would really want to come over, not like they’ll come as long as they don’t get a better offer.
This is kind of a strange question I think.
How kind of you to practice such hospitality and generosity. It sounds like these might be people you don’t know very well yet and would like to get to know better. Sometimes if folks don’t feel comfortable in a new setting, they’d rather decline than move out of their comfort zone.
Maybe one way to do it would be to plan your gathering around an activity that can serve to pick up any slack or provide a source of conversation for those who are new to you and to each other. Have you tried inviting people over to watch a football/baseball/basketball championship? Hosted a “night at the movies” in your home? Had an Oscars party? Tried bunco, poker? Inititiated a book club, wine tasting?
If you are new in the neighborhood, (even if you are not) maybe you could start with inviting the neighbor gals over for coffee or tea. Get to know them. It seems people are busier than ever or just have forgotten to slow down and enjoy the neighbors. Don’t be pushy, smile and always remember to be a good listener. Maybe you could get involved with a church group and meet quality friends that way. In our parish we have “Guess who’s coming for dinner” groups. A lot of fun and a great way to expand your group of friends. Do you have school children? If so, get acquainted with other parents through PTSA, maybe volunteer groups. It takes work, but well worth the rewards.
Love and peace, Mom of 5
First, I wish that I had a neighbor like you! Second, if you’re living around the Nashville area, I dare you to invite me over for BBQ! I’d be there early (LOL). Seriously though, society today isn’t (in general) the same as in times past. Growing up I remember annual “block parties” where we (the residence on the street) would get a permit from the city and block off an entire street. We’d all bring out our grills, tables, chairs, ice coolers, etc. and have a huge party right in the middle of the street. Children would play together, adults would talk, play cards, and of course drink a little. It was absolutely a GREAT time and everyone looked forward to it each year. But alas… times change as do people. And generally, people today would rather do other things. I can assure you however, that there are still those around that remember the “good ol’ days.”
when we moved to the Detroit area there was a newcomer’s club. the last person who moved in invited the newest family over for coffee and donuts with the neighbors. that was usually for the wives and little kids, there were other planned activities for couples and families. the great thing was getting to know about the schools, pediatricians, dentists etc. we had many planned block parties and other neighborhood events like garage sales, BBQ etc. You could be a member for 3 yrs, and an officer the last year. It was extremely helpful for our family transition at that time.
I am probably one of those people who have to turn down the invitations most of the time and I have to tell you, I feel AWFUL when I do. I am a commuter. I am up at 4:30am Monday through Friday. By the time I go to daily Mass, my 12 Step group, teach RCIA one night a week I am not home until 8:30 or 9:00pm at night. I spend my time with my fur children (pets) and then I am off to bed. If it is my week to help my brother with the kids I have homework to go over and lunches to pack for the next day and sometimes it is off to bed at 10 or 10:30pm.
By the time the weekend comes I don’t wanna go nowhere…except to Mass on Sunday!
I know it will not be this way forever. I will be retired in 5 years and life will be so much different. That’s why even when I am really tired I try to accept at least one out of four invitations from someone so that I can keep my friendship with them up.
But I know I am like the people you are meeting and it can be so sad.
I do think your own idea of having smaller gatherings once in awhile might be a good idea…have you tried that before? What was the result? Has anyone tried that?
Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down quickly, for today I must stay at your house.” Luke19:2-5
Do you have a sycamore tree in your yard? I do! but I can’t say it helps me be a better hostess. I’m sorry to say but I think that most folks are too busy to get off their beaten trail of family, home, work, personal interests and consumerism. These things aren’t bad but when the busy-ness of it all dictates lives to the point of shutting out meaningful relationships that come along then there is a problem…such is the society we live in.
An immediate answer to your need to share might be to get involved with a ministry in your church that brings meals to sick and house bound people.
Something that seems to work for me is to be open to “spontaneous” visits. E.g., instead of a formal invitation to dinner next week, I might decide to call one of my SAHM neighbor friends and say, “Hey, I’ve got a couple hours free…wanna bring your son over & play?” Or, same thing when I’m making plans to get out for a walk with my son–I’ll just phone someone & see if they want to come along or meet me at a park.
I think this works because a) they’re flattered to be thought of; b)it’s a spur of the moment invitation, so they don’t feel bad if they say no; and c) very often, they are relieved to drop the plans they had to take me up on mine!
Now the flip side is that I, too, try to be ready to drop everything (if I can) to accept someone else’s last-minute invitation.
Another tip…don’t give up! Don’t make a pest of yourself, either, but “sorry, I can’t” this week doesn’t mean forever!
I’ve lived in my current house/neighborhood a little over 11-1/2 years. It’s a mid 1950’s development - you know, where there are no sidewalks, no front porches, smallish front yards, and BIG back yards… Read that as not conducive to taking a walk around the neighborhood, or having the kids playing/riding/whatever “out front”. It’s also a “empty-nester” area. A lot of the homeowners are original owners, into retirement… not too many kids around.
My next door neighbor “Harry” I seen about 2 dozen times, and spoke to about 6! In 11-1/2 years! He’s a hermit.
My other next door neighbors I have a great relationship with, but they are in their early 60’s and we just don’t have that much in common. Directly across the street the same thing. Across & one over another hermit widow.
My backyard neighbors are OK, but they have an 8’ privacy fence up. Our backyards are so big I can hardly see my left/right backyard neighbors.
About the only time anyone gets to know eachother is on “National Night Out”. We block off the street and have a neighborhood block party/potluck dinner… “Oh… you live in the tan/white/blue/pick a color house… nice to meet you!”
If it weren’t for my son’s annual Boy Scout Fundraiser (Wreaths & Popcorn door to door) I don’t think I’d know anyone in my neighborhood. Nobody is really outgoing enough, or has similar interests.
Wow, I knew we were blessed in my neighborhood, but I didn’t know HOW blessed! It’s so sad that some of you don’t know your neighbors at all.
For whatever reason, in my neighborhood, we all get along really well and spend a lot of time together. Part of it is that we’re in townhouses, so if we ignored each other our kids would have to stay confined to their own tiny patches of grass – but because we’re friendly, we just all share yards/toys/space. Also, most of the moms stay home, so we see each other during the day if the weather is nice. And the kids are all similar ages – there are some teens who hang out together, then there’s a group of little girls aged 4-6 who like to play together, and a boatload of two-year-olds (of which my child is one) who dominate the neighborhood. And now there’s a brand new crop of babies being born.
We’ve done open houses, barbecues, and block parties, but most often it’s just an impromptu thing … no one feels like cooking so we order takeout and gather in someone’s dining room or front yard. Or someone bought a fabulous bottle of wine and calls someone else to share it. Or the kids are bored, so we call each other up and go to the park. And a LOT of food is shared – we’re always baking cookies and cakes and casseroles and passing them around the neighborhood based on current needs (new baby, difficult pregnancy, death in the family, etc.) or just plain old goodwill.
Someone said the other day she thinks the thing that pushed our neighborhood to be so friendly is that it is about half Indian and Middle Eastern. Those cultures are more community-centered, whereas 21st century American culture can be pretty isolating and independent. And as I think back, it was the non-American women who started bringing food by and setting up dinner parties when we moved in several years ago. So there may be something to that theory.
But seriously, if you want people to come over, make it as easy as possible for them to say no. If it’s totally casual and no fuss, even spur-of-the-moment, there’s no pressure and people are more willing to just go with the flow. Fancy dinner parties and the like are fun when you’ve known people a while, but for new acquaintances, that kind of thing can feel like just one more stressful obligation for everyone involved.
Also, with new people, I like to do things couple-to-couple or one-on-one for a while rather than stressing them out by inviting them to a bigger gathering where they won’t know people (and don’t even know us very well yet!). It’s just way less stress for them and for me … no cooking for a crowd or worrying about how people will get along.
sometimes I will make a cake or pie and invite a few neighbors over to help us eat it. it works out well. i dont have to worry about fixing a whole meal, nobody else has to worry about bringing anything, and sometimes I dont even clean the house (if its good weather, we just hang out under the shade trees). another thing that works well is to do this with a bucket of homemade ice cream! we always make more than we can eat and who can resist it?? you could ask each family to bring a topping of some sort.
Just an update. That’s a good idea with the inviting people over for dessert btw. I’m going to use that!
I decided to just try inviting one family at a time rather than trying to invite everyone I may want to see, or get to know better, all at once. I invited one family over and they were busy, and then I called another neighbor at work who is single and she came over after work and we had a lovely meal & chat.
Maybe I will make a list of who I want to invite over, and then just go down the list when I have a chance to invite people.
I also asked dh to invite two friends from work but apparently they are very busy.
I’d just keep trying. Sometimes it will take people to get in the habit of doing it, to make time for it. With all the cable channels, cell phones, the internet, the over scheduling, the moving away from family and all the such, neighborhoods as a community have just been dropping lower and lower as a social option. I think most would like to be social with neighbors, but its just been spaced out. I’d just keep trying, and try to work off your list. To the ones that seem more open to it, tell them your intention and any advice on trying to get people to come over.
Once you become deeper friends, then more stable lines of boundaries will happen, and they’ll know how to open sometimes to be social. No one really wants to be a bother or not know what their obligations are. I’m sure with most of your friends and family, you know when to call, and when are good times to meet. Also know if you need to bring something to eat, or how things will get paid if you go out to dinner or coffee. The more the boundaries are understood, the less awkward it’ll be.
Everyone is so busy these days… I sometimes get to have over-the-fence chats with the neighbors, but that only happens in warmer weather (brrrrr, too cold to stand out there today. )
Being single doesn’t help; families don’t seem to like socializing with single people much (and I’m older, not a kid). Sometimes I think it would be fun to live in a retirement community (except I’m still working ).
In the past, I have invited people over, and they’ve hesitated because they seemed to think that putting on a pot of coffee would be too much trouble for me. Trust me folks, even we single people can make a pot of coffee and serve a snack!
**Crazy Internet Junkies Society
**Carrier of the Angelic Sparkles Sprinkle Bag
Pace e Bene
are there any community events in your part of the world where you can get to know people? sometimes that is the best way of getting to know someone, and making friends. you can also invite people from your church that your getting to know there too.
have you invited the priest over for supper yet? frank and i did, and it was a nice evening. have you thought of making your own community event? could you ask the town hall there what you could do? do you need to get a permit to throw the event?
if you could make a community event happen, then you could advertise it as well. for instance, what about a food drive for the poor? or coats for kids and adult poor? what about a community lunch for the poor? just because there might have already been one doesn’t mean that you cannot get permission to have another one. ideas like this are a good way to meet people in your area.
its also a better idea than having complete strangers in your home. maybe if you started something locally like food drives, or giving out clothing for the poor, it would become a local event every year. perhaps it already is, but there is nothing wrong with doing it more than once. your community could also offer a dinner for the poor as well.
hope this helps! also you can join a women’s group in your church. this is also a good way of meeting people.