Everyone has that one neighbor. The one who's the last to know about the neighborhood garage sale. Who's left out of the weekly game of Bunco. But what if that neighbor…is you?
If you're being ignored, left out, avoided, or whispered about, you just might be. (Doors slammed in your face may be another good indication.) The good news is, there are steps you can take to remedy your reputation. You may not be able to undo whatever it is you did to become the neighborhood ninny, but maybe you can cultivate enough goodwill for a fresh start. Here are a few things to try.
Host an open house
Inviting people into your home may be all it takes to turn the corner. Hand-delivered invitations will provide an olive branch and welcoming touch for neighbors, and give you an opportunity to reach out personally. Letting people get to know you - or rediscover you - with a peek into your world may be all you need to undo a bad rep.
Organize a block party
An activity that invites participation and offers fun among the whole block is hard to resist…especially if you offer to provide a main course. (Think burgers on the grill or bring in barbecue if you don't want to be stuck cooking when you could be mingling).
Kids lemonade stand
Yes, it's cheap to use your kids...which is exactly why it may work. Even crusty old irritated neighbors have a hard time denying a kid a quarter for a refreshing drink. If you're there to supervise and offer a friendly smile and small talk, you have an "in" to start mending fences.
Actually mend fences
Do you have a neighbor who could use a hand with a fence that needs patching or a lawn that needs mowing? Go for it! Do it yourself or help organize a neighborhood fix-it weekend. Helping out an older neighbor or a single parent is a great gesture.
Bake cookies for your neighbors and hand-deliver them in tins
They'll only hate you until the first bite. Not a baker? Get some great recipes here.
Use the time of the year to incite a little spirit among neighbors. Summer? Set up a giant inflatable waterside in the cul-de-sac and invite all the kids over for some fun. Back to school? Send out notes to all the neighbors with kids offering a top ten list of back to school tips, packaged cleverly with a pencil and eraser. On the precipice of winter? Dole out ice scrapers to everyone on the street. A little effort goes a long way.
Get in the holiday spirit
Pump up your holiday décor. Being known as the house with all the festive decorations at Halloween and Christmas can help you go from neighbor non grata to neighbor need to go check out that house again.
For extra flair, show some warm holiday spirit by passing out holiday cookie kits to your neighbors. Need some more ideas for neighbor gifts during the holidays? Check out Pinterest.
When all else fails, move
Sometimes, neighborhood chemistry just isn't there. If you (or your kids) are being isolated, or worse, insulted, you might just want to go elsewhere. Being happy in your home may not be so happy if you can't enjoy your surroundings and be part of the fabric of the neighborhood.