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What to bring a new neighbor??

The last time I had new neighbor I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and put them in pretty basket with a (new) tea towel. Come to find out later one child had celiacs and the parents were (at the time) low carbers. I felt terrible.

Our neighborhood isn't really one. It's basically a long country road that abuts a state park, has no street lights and most houses are close enough to see but not really close that you see each other out and about. They are thru woods kind of behind my house so it's not like I am going to see them over the fence or run into walking around the area.

I still would like to cook/bake/make something but am at a loss on what would be a safe bet. A loaf of homemade bread with good butter? Scones and jam? a pot of soup? I wish I could tell if they had a dog as I thought home made dog biscuits could be fun but so far no evidence of a pet.

So in this age of increased food allergies and sensitivities is this even a good idea anymore? Based on the hostess gift thread I know to never ever ever ever bring lilies or scented candles, LOL.

If you were new to the neighborhood what would make you feel welcome?

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  1. Honey almond cake. I got one and it's great with coffee.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wattacetti

      This is no better than the OP's oatmeal cookies if there are allergies or dietary concerns. Unfortunately, I don't think it's a good idea to bake something if you don't know the families no-no's.

      The only reasonably safe thing that comes to mind is a pot of homemade vegetarian soup and even then, there could be problem ingredients.

      I would probably give them a plant or some sort of small item of outdoor decor, like a door wreath, windchime, or seasonal decoration.

    2. How about a gift certificate to a local restaurant that you like and frequent (doesn't have to be high brow), with a nice little jar of jam?

      2 Replies
      1. re: pinehurst

        I just want to say that you are an awfully sweet and thoughtful neighbor.

        1. re: DaisyM


          (whispers...also, I don't trust that others will like my cooking! shh!)

      2. Oh I miss the good old days when you brought your new neighbors a batch of warm cookies or fresh brownies and were fast friends who sat on the porch together and had play dates and were each others emergency contacts. I am in my 20s so this was not so long ago! Not sure when or why everything became so complicated but to get back to your OP, I would just invite them over for coffee or tea or iced tea or sugar free lemonade or whatever. That way you can find out if they have any dietary restrictions by observation, and get to know them a bit better to determine if you'd like to invite them into your circle of friends. Moving can be unsettling and it's always nice to have someone reach out to you and introduce themselves.

        1. Yikes.
          A simple note with contact info and a "welcome to the neighborhood" should work. Perhaps a small gift of unscented candles or soap? Love those ideas, and if they work well you could perhaps advance on to a loaf of bread or some dog treats.

          1. I have food allergies - I wouldn't be able to eat anything that a neighbor brought over. That being said, even if you brought something that no one could have (we don't keep any apple products in our house, for example, because I'm severely contact sensitive to them) it would still have the intended effect of making me feel welcome. I'd just quarantine them when you left, wash up just in case, and send them to work with DH, where it would surely be inhaled.

            I think that the vast majority of people with allergies are reasonable enough to know that you aren't out to intentionally harm them - I'm in a support group, and I know that most people just smile, say thank you, and regift.

            I have environmental allergies too, but this time of the year, I would definitely appreciate a potted plant that could be kept outside - keeps the pollen and such out of the house but I still get to have something pretty.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jw615

              The plant is a good idea. I'd like to get that, but id still probably kill it, sadly.

              1. re: TroyTempest

                Oh, I'd probably kill it too. But I would like looking at it and it would make me happy until its untimely death.

            2. I believe people, in general, would appreciate any kind gesture, and would not expect you to know whether they have some food allergy or weird food aversion. The only thing I would avoid would be nuts, as that allergy is usually the most unforgiving.

              That said, a batch of blueberry muffins, banana or zucchini bread, a coffee cake, or scones I'm sure would be welcome.

              1. I think bringing a new neighbor anything is a very kind overture! I say bring anything you would appreciate as a token, understanding that it may be used to feed their guests or coworkers. It's really not about the bread, or the cookies, or the scones, is it? :) Someone will enjoy them, and the new neighbors will enjoy the traveling hospitality.

                As an aside, I would have to wonder how friendly anyone would want to be with a person who doesn't appreciate a friendly gesture (I realize your neighbors did not do this - just an "in general"). There's plenty of time to learn about restrictions if the relationship develops to the meal-sharing level. No need to feel bad about kindness, even if it unknowingly comes in the form of an allergen! ;)

                1. One non-food thing I like to give to a new neighbor is a contact list for preferred service people. If it's available, a basket of fresh fruit would be nice.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: maxie

                    I was also thinking a fresh fruit salad is a good choice. If you up the berry content, low-carb eaters can usually indulge. Gluten-free and free of the top allergens.

                  2. This may not apply to your area, but if a neighbor brought me over a stack of takeout menus for the "good" places in town, I'd be happy. When I moved to my new place I would have loved this gesture.

                    1 Reply
                    1. When we moved here the previous owner left us a drawer full of useful information: List of clinics in the area, take out menus, a list of good places to shop for different things, their recommendations for the neighbourhood. It was really appreciated since we were arriving from far away.

                      1. Stick with cookies.........seldom will you hit that and if that is one of your signature "things", it will be appreciated more ..and the thought should have been appreciated by them, regardless.

                        1. Maybe you can just say hello and give them a choice of a couple different things, and an opportunity to tell you about any issues ...

                          1. I would still be grateful for the compassion expressed by a basket of cookies, even though I don't personally eat many. My DH is a cookie FIEND, though. Whenever I am in a new neighborhood, I would want... a map with someone's favorite shops marked, and why, and the location of the nearest medical clinic, beer/wine store, good bakery, and best spot to purchase a quick small gift. Just my 2 cents.

                            1. When I moved into my house (with now EX) MANY years ago, it was at the beginning of September... still "summertime". Neighbor came over with a big basket of goodies from his garden... tomatoes, zukes, peppers, cukes, etc. AND he showed me how to "break in" to my own house without a key?!? Fridge, washer/dryer arrived from Sears a week BEFORE we settled?? He remembered what it was like to NOT have them during first few days (week) in a brand new place. He made like we just weren't "home"... still had key from previous owner. We came from settlement to find all appliances hooked up... even ice cube trays in freezer. Said he figured if we FREAKED about it... he knew what next SEVERAL years would be like!?!

                              2 Replies
                                1. re: kseiverd

                                  I gotta know.....did he turn out to be a good neighbor ?

                                2. Thank you for all the responses! I love the idea of "Neighborhood" basket with take out menus, maps, tips etc. Very thoughtful and very useful!

                                  We have not seen any cars or activity since last night so it looks like they might be away. Gives me time to put together a nice assortment that I can bring over next week.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                    If something's homemade, just include recipe (friendly if they cook/bake/can/etc. or have food issues without being obviously over careful)

                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                      A neighborhood basket really does sound like a perfect welcome gift - but even aside from that I wouldn't completely shy away from making something. When I was a kid we moved in a new house/new neighborhood in the middle of the December. One our neighbors came over to give us a welcome gift of a Christmas reef - and we happen to be Jewish. A bit awkward, but the gesture was still received warmly.

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        The neighborhood basket only really works if you know where they are coming from. Many people where I just moved to are from town just getting into a single family house. My new neighbors would likely be offended if I tried toile it seem that I knew their hometown better than they did. But people can be funny where I live.

                                            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                              I was thinking, whole new tradition ... that's the hippie Christmas traditional gift I think ;)

                                              1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                Not everyone's a gardener, but sharing plants is nice. I just gave some to my neighbor today. We had a gardening fiend neighbor growing up who would give us things when he'd divide. Lilies of the valley I remember, but I know there were many more.

                                          1. I moved into my house in summer of 2010. My one set of neighbors brought a basket of their home-grown tomatoes, peppers, etc. (Forget what else was in the basket, but it all got used and was very much appreciated. My other neighbor (a 90 yo woman) baked me blueberry muffins with her own fresh berries. Very much appreciated, but I swear there was 1 cup of sugar per muffin. I took them to work, where no food goes uneaten. I appreciated both gifts equally and have remained equally friendly with both.

                                            For best takeout, restaurants, markets, etc I made my first post on CH.

                                            1. Take over what you feel like making. No one you want to be friends with is going to be offended. And there is no reason for you to feel terrible about the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I'm sure the people you gave them to appreciated the thought and the effort, even if they couldn't enjoy the cookies themselves. Besides, it will give you something to laugh about in 5 years. Just don't be offended if they end up regifting it, and for heavens sake don't ask how they liked the ______ you made.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                The neighbors with the cookies were great and we do laugh about it now, I just felt terrible because the youngest was one with celiacs and she was so mad her sibling got all the cookies! (and we laugh because their no-carbing lasted about a week or two, I told them they should tried my cookies!)

                                              2. It's tricky. A friend of ours had some new people move onto the property beside her. She waited a week or so until the new neighbors got settled in. Up the long driveway she walked with the pound cake in hand. She got to the house and found that all the windows were covered in black plastic. Back down the long driveway she walked. Back to her house.
                                                She called a relative who was a cop.
                                                How about a subscription to a popular local newspaper?

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Puffin3

                                                  OK I don't get it. Why did she call the cops?

                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                    B/c the house was being used as a 'grow-op'. Nobody covers all the windows of a house with black plastic otherwise.

                                                2. When I moved in to my Mount Pleasant, SC, home, my neighbor brought me wahoo she had just caught that day. Best new neighbor gift I EVER got!

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Sue in Mt P

                                                    I'm assumed that it was filleted for you?

                                                  2. I brought a smile, flowers and our phone number in case they ever need anything.