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    After the Move: When's the Best Time for the Welcome Wagon to Arrive?


    Military families are friendly people who usually have good intentions for their newest neighbors.

    Toting coffee cake, brownies, or homemade beer, we often jump at the chance to welcome the latest residents. We are also grateful recipients of these tasty treats. After the moving truck leaves, how soon can neighbors drop by to say hello?

    I think there are two camps of unpackers. Each has their own philosophy relating to new house chores and the neighbors who come knocking to spread good cheer.

    Sanity Seekers

    These folks, including myself, function better in a complete house...well, mostly complete. In an attempt to control the chaos that a PCS brings, we like our stuff perfectly in place to feel comfortable and productive. It is our direct mission to make the house a home as quickly as possible and to live as civilized as possible ASAP.  

    While we won’t turn neighbors who ring our bell away and we welcome kindness, we won’t fully appreciate your fresh peach cobbler because we have not yet found the spoons. We also won’t be able to remember your names or the house you live in, even after you describe it as the house with the white pillars. We are simply too focused on the huge task at hand.

    Please give us a week or two to come by. Then we can at least have an available chair for you to sit in while chatting neighborly about our past duty locations and making those connections in “the military is such a small place” context. First impressions are important to us, and we want you to feel comfortable. It makes us uncomfortable if you are unable to stay and relax. We really do want to know the advice you have for the best bakery and which neighbor will chastise you for having the dog off the leash.

    Social Scene Seekers

    In my experience, Social Scene Seekers have personalities that I envy. Their natural states of being are typically charming, outgoing, and just down right cheerful even in the midst of a move. Their laid back attitude is what gets them through the major disruption. To them, if new neighbors aren’t beating down their door, it’s an ominous sign that the new neighborhood is unwelcoming.

    Social Scene Seekers eagerly await the first neighbor to come by to introduce themselves and make an instant connection. It doesn’t matter if they haven’t showered in two days. They figure, “If they meet me at my worst, I can only get better from there!” They will make a space for you on the floor to have a seat and offer a stick of gum from their purse to make you feel comfortable and welcome.

    They gladly put off any house task to conduct neighbor business and will stop unpacking to make block party plans for the next weekend. To them, a social network is what makes a home. New friends and neighbors hold the keys to many future happy memories.

    With these scenarios and personality types in mind, should you bring a welcome gift to the first introduction?

    Why not? Who doesn’t like presents? It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. These suggestions from author and Navy Spouse Michelle Volkmann provide many creative options to have on hand while ringing the doorbell. Additionally, these are my own tried and true welcome gifts that are easy to assemble.

    • Spaghetti Dinner- Choose an inexpensive colander and fill it with the dry ingredients for a pasta meal. Kick it up a notch by using gourmet noodles and fancy jarred pasta sauce. Then add a coordinating dish towel or spaghetti spoon.
    • State or City Basket- Combine locally produced items such as wine or jams with hometown newspapers, city maps, and events calendars. Mention if the local school has a military family liaison and bring the contact information.
    • Gift Cards- Pick up a card from a “must do” restaurant or coffee shop. Sometimes local gems aren’t unearthed until the last months of a duty station. Gift cards force neighbors to get out and try the good stuff before it’s too late.
    • Add an Information Card- Jot your family’s first and last names (and maybe your kid’s ages) down with your address and phone numbers. It’s easier to link faces and names with these references.

    Are you a Sanity or Social Scene Seeker? Have neighbors brought memorable gifts to your new home, or do you have special items you like to share with new families?

    Download Avoid PCS Move Wipeout E-Book


    Photo: Flickr user Doug Wertmann


    Dawn M. Smith


    Dawn M. Smith

    Dawn is a real estate and military life writer who has a serious HGTV habit. When she is not writing, her teen daughter, Army husband, and golden retriever keep her busy through chauffeur duties, travel planning, and long dog walks. Dawn is pleased to share her experiences with MilitaryByOwner readers who are hoping to simplify military family journeys of all kinds. Follow Dawn on Pinterest for more ideas and resources and visit her site at Dawn M. Smith Custom Content Creation.

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