They’re there when you need someone to sign for your package or keep an eye on your home while you’re out of town. So how can you return the favor? Here are 5 great ways to make good neighborliness part of your DNA.

1. Create a Neighborhood Watch program

Police officers can’t be everywhere, which is why the Neighborhood Watch program is such a boon for public safety. It’s also one of the oldest and most effective crime prevention programs in the country, bringing citizens together with law enforcement in order to keep eyes and ears on their communities. If your community doesn’t already have an organized watch group, consider starting one by contacting your local police department or visiting the National Crime Prevention Council’s website for tips.

2. Hold a block party

What’s a great deterrent to crime in addition to a formal Neighborhood Watch program? Knowing your neighbors. And what better way than a block party? Yours can be as informal as you like even just putting flyers on neighbors’ doors and asking them to bring a dish to share. Or you can even go simpler and have an ice cream party with each person bringing a different topping. Ask them to RSVP so you know who’ll be coming and then provide some tables and paper goods. Have activities, such as a kids’ talent show or relay races, or just spend time getting to know one another.

3. Create an email or phone chain

Sometimes we want to be neighborly, but we don’t know how to contact anyone (and admit it, sometimes you’re embarrassed that you don’t remember everyone’s name!). Offer to ask all the neighbors to email you their contact information, including cell phone numbers if they wish. (Or collect it at your Neighborhood Watch meeting or block party.) The information can come in handy for lost pets, potential weather hazards, or any other neighborhood issue. If everyone is internet savvy, consider creating a neighborhood-specific group on Nextdoor or Facebook.

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4. Welcome new neighbors

New kids on the block? Show them your neighborhood has “the right stuff” with a warm welcome. Once they’re somewhat settled, pay a visit with a plate of cookies or even some suggestions for the best pizza or park in town. Ask if they want to be included in your phone/email chain and make sure to introduce them around when the opportunity arises.

5. Do small acts of kindness

Sometimes we click with our neighbors and sometimes we don’t, but whether you’re going to become besties or just tolerate one another, everyone is happier when you act like a good neighbor. That can include everything from greeting and waving when you drive down the street to offering to pick up their mail and water their plants when they go on vacation. And remember how your actions can impact the block’s livability. Keep your yard and exterior maintained and your kids somewhat corralled. Coexisting in the neighborhood is everyone’s job.

Safe and smart | Home safety

about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.