Ideas for welcoming a new neighbor

We’ve all been there.

A new couple moves in across the street. You want to introduce yourself, but you’re not sure how. Rather than waiting for an awkward run-in at the end of the cul-de-sac, why not take over a small, thoughtful gift to welcome them to the neighborhood?

“I like cultivating good relationships with my neighbors,” said Nina Gordon, owner of Take Heart, a boutique gift shop in East Austin. “Taking over a card or a gift is just a thoughtful, warm thing to do. I think it tells you something about a person. I know people are busy, but I want to be the kind of person who does that even though I’m busy.”

We asked Gordon to offer some of her favorite ideas for welcoming new neighbors.

Make Austin yours

After opening her shop, Gordon found that customers were regularly asking her for advice on the coolest things to do in town. So she decided to print up brochures that list her favorite places and hand them out at the shop.

“I love telling people about Austin, because I love it here,” she said.

Some Austin-centric gift ideas for people who have just moved to town could include a Texas guidebook, a gift basket filled with locally made goods or even inexpensive tickets to a popular local attraction such as the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Another option would be to give a small item — such as a pin, notecards or coasters — made by a local artist.

Bite to eat

Gordon said she still has fond memories of another local business owner who brought over a batch of chocolate chip cookies when she opened Take Heart.

While you’ll never go wrong with fresh-baked brownies or a bottle of wine, if you want to change it up a bit, consider giving a gift certificate to a store such as Whole Foods or Central Market.

“When you’re moving in, you’re just so busy and you can have a hard time making meals at first,” Gordon said. “Some kind of convenient food gift or food items that have already been prepared would be nice.”

Good scents

A fresh aroma can instantly change the atmosphere of a home.

“Moving is very stressful, and the concept of self-care is important to me,” Gordon said. “I sell these aromatherapy diffusers that make the store smell really good. We have this desire to have our home feel good and have a good energy in it, and having it smell good is part of that.”

Gordon also suggested a simple candle with a note attached.

“It’s kind of generic, but I think a candle is nice,” she said. “There are these reclaimed apothecary matchstick bottles that would be a good gift with a candle or by itself.”

In bloom

Flowers and plants also make a house feel more like a home. Grab a bouquet from the Austin Flower Co. or consider a potted plant that will last for years to come.

“I buy a lot of succulents at East Austin Succulents,” Gordon said. “I sell some planters with succulents that I create myself and put in the store. That could be a cute thing for someone.”

Gift of time

For someone new to the neighborhood, sometimes there’s no better gift than time. Make the effort to get to know your new neighbors, offer them your phone number in case they need anything and try to make them feel welcome. You can even invite them over to share a pot of coffee and ask other neighbors to join in, too.

“Buying a new house is a really big deal,” Gordon said. “When (people) acknowledge that, it feels good.”

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