We moved into our home around Easter. But by Christmas, I’m ashamed to say, I still hadn’t met all my neighbors.
I knew that if I was ever going to connect with my community, I had to take advantage of the “door” Christmas naturally provides to meet others and share the love of our Savior.
So, I made my plan. It was pretty simple.
Step 1: Bake a lot of stuff.
Step 2: Attach a note.
Step 3: Deliver it.
So simple, I did it with kids in tow.
For my immediate neighbors, I made these delicious cinnamon rolls from the Pioneer Woman. I chose this recipe because it makes A LOT! In one setting I made enough cinnamon rolls for four families. After they cooled a little, I wrapped them in cellophane and tied them with ribbon.
For neighbors who I heard had dietary restrictions, I made low-sugar applesauce in glass jars and sugar-free granola.
This year, I’m planning on making cranberry caramel bars, which quite honestly, are probably the most dangerous Christmas treat you will ever make. I can easily down a 9x13 pan in an afternoon.
The Real Sweet Stuff
With all my homemade goodies, I included a handwritten note. If I’d never met the neighbor, I introduced myself in the card, reminded them where I lived, and included my contact information.
Every year, our church plant hosts a Christmas Cookie Outreach. The ladies of the church gather with pre-made goodies and fill baskets with cookies to pass out in the community. The baskets serve as an invitation to our Christmas service and include a printed card or an official invite. Last year, we included a Christmas track and a business card for our church.
If your church doesn’t have a fellowship activity like this, consider adding the following to your treats for your neighbors:
* a Christmas card with a Scripture verse
* an invitation to your church’s Christmas services
* a Christmas tract or a small booklet that shares the Christmas story
The Neighborly Gesture
Loaded with my treats, I began ringing doorbells. Most of my neighbors weren’t home, and I was a little nervous about leaving food items on their porch. But the responses I received later proved worth the effort. I received phone calls and texts, requests for recipes, and thank you notes.
The best reward was actually pushing past the awkwardness of meeting someone new and finding that something as small as a cookie can bless someone profoundly. One neighbor emailed me a thank you note, telling me that she had returned from the doctor’s office with an unsettling diagnosis to find my treat and warm wishes waiting for her on her doorstep. Another neighbor invited me into her home and asked me to stay for coffee. I discovered she was a widow, retired, and an accomplished pianist.
In my neighborhood, there are both needs and opportunities to show God’s love. This Christmas, open yourself up by reaching out. I think God will surprise you with the opportunities he provides for fulfilling the Great Commission at the birth of His Son.
Cranberry Caramel Bars
Recipe adapted from The Dallas Morning News
1 ½ cups fresh cranberries
½ cup plus 2 TBSP granulated sugar (divided use)
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour (divided use)
½ tsp. baking soda
2 cups uncooked regular oats
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup butter, melted
1 (10 oz) pkg dried cherries
¾ to 1 cup chopped pecans
1 (12 oz) jar caramel sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together cranberries and 2 TBSP granulated sugar in a small bowl. Set aside. Combine 2 cups flour, ½ cup granulated sugar, baking soda, oats, and brown sugar; stir in melted butter until crumbly. Reserve 1 cup flour mixture (DON’T FORGET THIS STEP!) Press remaining mixture into bottom of a lightly greased 3x13 baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes.
Sprinkle crust with dried cherries, pecans, and sugared cranberries. In a separate bowl, stir together caramel sauce and remaining 1/3 cup flour; spoon over cranberries. Sprinkle with the reserved flour mixtures and bake for 20 minutes and cranberries start to burst. Cool baking dish and cut into bars.
About Melissa Deming
Melissa’s motto as a Christian journalist and creative writer is to “tell of God’s marvelous works” (Ps. 9:1). And with almost 15 years experience in print and editorial services, God has embedded Melissa with passions gleaned from stories and experiences from the field. But helping women fall in love with the sweetness of God’s Word truly makes her heart sing. Two years ago, she launched HiveResources.com to help women sweeten their walk with Christ through Bible study, missions resources, and more. She recently published a 10-week Bible study,Daughters of the King, to help women find their place in the biblical story. Melissa has a M.Div. in Women’s Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a B.A. in Journalism from Texas A&M University. She and her husband, Jonathan, are currently part of a church plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They have five-year-old twin boys, Zacharias and Jonah, who are unwittingly and joyfully shaping them into the image of Christ.
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