Who’s Here for the Holidays? Welcoming Friends & Neighbors

two women in holiday outfits carrying gift bags

It’s that time of year when everyone is eager to get together and share a little merriment. Of course, that goes for the people in your neighborhood! Let’s take inspiration from Mr. Rogers and enjoy some holiday fun with the folks who bring in the paper and feed your cat when you’re out of town.

Here’s how to relax and enjoy those unplanned moments when carpool or book club buddies stop by to share cookies – or wine – even if they find you folding laundry in your jammies. PLUS we’ve got three fuss-free, affordable suggestions for welcoming friends and neighbors, party-style.

Pantry & Powder

Here’s a handy checklist of all you really need to put together a party in minutes – and be able to enjoy the company of your guests. You’ve probably got most of these things on hand, so your task may be one of simple organization.

  • Stack a pair of serving bowls and a cheese board on your kitchen counter
  • Stock your pantry with wrapped candies, cocktail nuts and crackers — and store a wedge of cheese in the fridge
  • Stuff a cannister with packets of cocoa, hot cider mix and assorted teas
  • Stash some festive napkins in a cupboard, alongside a selection of plates and mugs
  • Survey your guest bathroom counter to confirm there’s soap, toilet paper and a clean hand towel
tray with cocoa and popcorn

Playful Plans

In the spirit of caring and sharing, decluttering and spending time (not just cash), consider these breezy and fun ideas for welcoming friends and neighbors. Once you’ve made your choice… spread the word! Post news of your event on the neighborhood Facebook page, send out an Evite or go old-school and deliver simple photocopied invitations to front doors.

RECIPE EXCHANGE: Baking cookies to share can be fun but it’s sometimes too time-consuming for busy families. Instead, try a Neighborhood Recipe Exchange — with a theme! “The cold weather is upon us, so drop by for some warm-hearted fun – and bring along a copy of your favorite hearty winter soup recipe.” After the party, you can email the “recipe book” out to share – perhaps with a photo from the gathering.

CHRISTMAS KARAOKE: Caroling around the block seem like too much work? Try hooking up an outdoor speaker alongside a backyard bonfire! This might be one of those events that’s better with cocktails, so consider topping that cocoa with crème de menthe (or peppermint schnapps) and whipped cream (yes, this IS the time for that canned kind!) or kicking up the eggnog with a splash of Rumchata (or brandy) and a cinnamon stick.

OUTGROWN TOY HAND-ME-DOWN PARTY: Invite folks to bring gently used toys or outgrown winter gear (think ice skates, ski coats) to pass along to younger members of the community. For the grown-ups, consider a book exchange or yard tool swap. While you’re celebrating, perhaps you’ll meet a new babysitter, start a book club, or get some great advice for pruning those maple trees!

We hope we’ve provided you with some entertaining inspiration – and the confidence to be a spontaneous holiday host. Because, when it comes down to it, welcoming friends and neighbors into your home is an opportunity to share a truly special gift: the gift of community.

family room with christmas tree, gifts and decorations

We’ve got fun suggestions for hosting your in-laws for a holiday visit and getting ready for the return of the college kids, too!

‘Tis not the season for dusting twice and stressing unless everything looks uber-nice.  Keep this in mind, as we begin, then open your door and let joy in!