Howdy Neighbor
November 11, 2008 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Just moved into a new apartment, help me meet my neighbors!

So I just moved out of a rather unfriendly apartment complex, and into a new one that seems ... friendlier. I'd like to extend a gesture to meet my neighbors and start our relationships on a positive note... My current thought is to bake a batch of cookies, and bring them to nearby apartments. Creepy? Appreciated? How would it make you feel? Do you have any better ideas?
posted by frwagon to Human Relations (21 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
It would probably creep people out on initial impression. It's a sad state of affairs that not knowing your neighbors in an apartment complex is the norm rather than the outlier, but that's how it goes. That said, you should feel free to simply knock on their door and just say "Hi, I'm frwagon from apt X. Give me a shout if you need anything. Ok, Bye!". There's no need to strike up a relationship, per se, but just let them know that you're a sentient being like them to help lessen the anonymity.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:44 PM on November 11, 2008

It is sad to say we live in a society where freshly baked cookies can draw a suspicious eye but we do. I'd stick to a simple meet and greet and once they've met you and found out you're good people, start in with the baked goods : )
posted by scabrous at 7:48 PM on November 11, 2008

I think cookies is a sweet idea.

But I can see how it might be considered creepy. Really depends on where you live. For example, if you live in a small town condominium, it might go well. If you live in downtown Manhattan, maybe not so much.

Either way, how terribly nice and friendly of you. Bravo!
posted by Mephisto at 7:52 PM on November 11, 2008

I agree with the meet and greet mentality, but after meeting them you also might want to give them cards or very small gifts during the holiday season. I always enjoyed gifts from my neighbors that consisted of holiday themed mugs filled with candy and hot chocolate mix.
posted by nikkorizz at 7:53 PM on November 11, 2008

Mephisto: It's a suburb of Atlanta. Typically considered a fairly good part of town.
posted by frwagon at 7:53 PM on November 11, 2008

A friend from another source has recommended a small cocktail party or pot luck, and slip invite cards into doors. Good? Bad?
posted by frwagon at 7:59 PM on November 11, 2008

Housewarming party, of course. You invite your friends and make it a real party (though something light - cocktails is good), but go around to your neighbors and make a point of inviting them in person. Hopefully they will show up and you'll have a chance to chat with them in a casual setting. Maybe they won't and all you get is the initial meeting at the door, but it's better than nothing.

This is better than just knocking on doors because it gives both parties a graceful way out. If you just stop to say "hello" and the person is really not in the mood to chat, then it's awkward. They can't say "not now" or "I have to go" without sounding rude. However, if you have a specific purpose (inviting them), then the conversation can be over after 30 seconds, they can say "sorry, gotta run" and you say "great, see you!" and that's that.
posted by PercussivePaul at 8:09 PM on November 11, 2008

What's wrong with taking it slow? I would personally be much more amenable to some small talk in the lobby rather than receiving a knock on the door from a stranger. Small talk over the course of a few weeks builds up to a nice network!
posted by greenland at 8:22 PM on November 11, 2008

We put up a sign on the buzzer inside the building, saying cocktails, 7pm at apt xx, meet your neighbours. Have some friends come over too. Neighbours that show up do, and of those that don't, some will care enough to apologize for not making it.
posted by furtive at 8:40 PM on November 11, 2008

My goodness! This is a bit depressing - I had no idea that bringing baked goods could be creepy! Everywhere that I've ever lived - MA suburbs, ME country, NY small town, VT country - showing up with baked goods is a totally acceptable and appreciated social gesture. I would definitely consider it friendly. A potluck might be a safer choice, if you're worried about creeping people out.
posted by Cygnet at 8:52 PM on November 11, 2008

I'm with Cygnet on this one - I think this is the sort of thing that no one does because everyone's afraid it might be creepy, but if new neighbors brought cookies to them, they would think it was very nice. I say go for it - the most you have to lose is the possibility of friendship of someone who views cookies as creepy, and at best you could shatter the ice that separates your new neighbors and turn it into a nice community.

Here is an article by a guy who actually asked to sleep over on neighbors' couches in his neighborhood in order to get to know them. If he can do that and not creep people out, you can bring cookies no prob.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:03 PM on November 11, 2008

Everyone, great answers, thanks. I think i'm going to go ahead with the cookies, and neighbors who don't like it ... well, likely not people i wanted to meet anyway. Salvor - that's an AWESOME article -- I agree with the author 110%.. somehow we've fractured our society. .. That's kinda what I'm trying to get around.
posted by frwagon at 9:09 PM on November 11, 2008

If you subscribe to the school of thought that your social connections create social capital, then home brewing beer is like printing your own money. For whatever reason, handing another guy a cold six pack of beer and saying "I made this beer, and I made it for you" taps into that primal man feeling of sharing Triceratops steaks around a fire. I highly recommend brewing as a way of connecting with people.

Plus, homebrewing beer is a ton of fun.
posted by JimmyJames at 10:59 PM on November 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

I've done the cookie thing in a residential neighborhood and it went over very well. I don't think things would be to terribly different in an apartment building.
posted by craven_morhead at 6:32 AM on November 12, 2008

i just wanted to chime in and say how odd it is that americans are more neighborly in neighborhoods (spread out, lawns, etc.) than they are in apartment buildings where everyone is crushed together.

i "know" several of the people on the floor of my building, and i'm pretty sure they would mock me behind my back if i brought them cookies.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:52 AM on November 12, 2008

One of my neighbors brought us baked goods a few times at a house I used to live at. We never really struck up a friendship because we had nothing in common besides living next door to each other, but the thought was definitely appreciated and we felt more comfortable around them. As an aside though, my boyfriend-at-the-time was on Weight Watchers and frequently would toss the food before I could get at it, so don't be offended too badly if they can't eat what you bring. It's mostly the thought that counts and is appreciated.
posted by booknerd at 9:29 AM on November 12, 2008

I think of the baked goods gift as more the type of thing the current residents would do for the new one. "Welcome to our building, here's some treats!" You doing it strikes me more as "Hi, I just moved in, can I buy your friendship with these cookies?" But maybe that's just me. Unless of course you make awesome cookies, and sell them, and want your neighbors to know that and tell their friends.
posted by attercoppe at 10:27 AM on November 12, 2008

Start a book group, have a cookie party where people swap holiday cookies, start a babysitting coop, have a group yard sale, start a community garden, whatever group activity you might enjoy.

Housewarming party is a great idea, as well. Provide a non-alcoholic drink and either lots of bottled beer, or a batch of a cocktail you like. Ask neighbors to bring hors'd'ouevres.
posted by theora55 at 11:46 AM on November 12, 2008

Oh, this came to me during my shower this morning (my best thinking time). I've given neighbors cookies or baked goods and had initial success. It made it so we no longer did the awkward silent laundromat dance. Rather, people would say "hi" and inquire about my life a bit. What you need is a next step.

I've found that few people will turn down a Board Game night. Provided you choose a pile of silly party games, and invite everyone, the odds of learning something more substantial about your neighbors is pretty good. I feel as though cocktail parties are a time to make good impressions by holding back the more eccentric parts of my personality. If you attempt to hold back your silly side while playing Crainium, your team will lose.

Good Games (in my humble nerdy opinion):

All the classics, Pictionary, Balderdash, Taboo
not Monopoly or Risk (they create animosity)

Newer good ones:
Wise or Otherwise
Catch Phrase
Gift Trap

Bonus points if you have people bring baked goods to YOUR game night.
posted by JimmyJames at 11:49 AM on November 12, 2008

I think cookies seems like a very sweet idea (har har).

My parents raised me to not be especially close with neighbours because if something goes wrong, there is no escaping them. This could be problematic if you strike up a friendship with someone who is very needy, or addicted, or manipulative or otherwise unbearable. It could also be a problem if you're the type to become overly attached based on slight encounters.

That's why I liked furtive's idea of putting a sign in the lobby with a start-time (and end-time) and date (probably a weeknight). Then you can get a group and you can evaluate everyone to see who you get along with without committing to one person that you'll hang out with them... When it's time, prop your apartment door open and let people wander in and out. Serve drinks and some light snacks and be the suave host.

I hope it goes well.
posted by cranberrymonger at 11:52 AM on November 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I think cookies are a good idea. People are smart enough to understand that a new neighbor wouldn't bake them cookies with malicious intent.
posted by alitorbati at 4:54 PM on November 12, 2008

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