Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Eat First

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?  A series exploring what it means to create community in Deer Park, or wherever you are.

You’ve initiated an invitation, it’s been accepted, and now your neighbors are about to arrive. That’s when you realize you have no idea what to do once they ring your doorbell. Panic sets in, your heart races, and then DING-DONG. They’re here.

I have a simple way to break the ice and get your evening off to a great start. It takes care of the “what do we talk about?” conundrum and helps everyone to relax in your home. It will help each person settle down and feel connected to each other. Here it is: eat first.

Of course, it’s not actually the first thing you do: you’re going to open the door, welcome them in, take their coats, tell them to take off their shoes or leave them on, and walk them to your main room. And then you’ll spend 3-5 minutes on pleasantries or introducing the kids to each other before pulling your simple meal out of the oven and inviting them to the table.

“I want to be sitting down to eat within ten minutes of my guest’s arrival.”

Here’s Why

As you serve the food, you’ll have the logistics of dinner to talk about, and you’ll have an activity for everyone to engage in together. Both are key. By discussing the food it’s easy to move into food-related topics, and by doing something together you’re already building the bonds that were the reason you invited them over at all.

Three Thoughts On The “Eat First” Motto

First, simple food prep makes this easier. Have something in the crockpot or just grab a pizza from KC’s Take & Bake plus a bag salad from Yoke’s so you’re never stressing about the food.

Second, if you invited someone over at meal time and then delayed the meal, you’re actually adding to their level of discomfort as they are probably getting hungry.

Third, this motto mainly applies to new friends. If you’re comfortable with whoever is coming over, then waiting to actually do the food prep together will often increase the sense of community and could be a big win.

Strangers To Neighbors

Now you know what it took me many awkward entrances to understand. You want to welcome them to your home, maybe even give a short tour ending in the living room for 3-4 minutes of relaxation, and then you want to be serving dinner about ten minutes from the doorbell. It’s easy to go from strangers to neighbors when we eat first.

Join the conversation by sharing your neighboring stories or asking your hospitality questions at facebook.com/DeerParkGazette with #neighboring. Won’t you be my neighbor?

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