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I love everything related to entertaining, parties, and among them, hospitality.  When it comes to hospitality, however, for so many of us it stops at our own doorstep.  I got to thinking this weekend, while walking to a nearby couple’s home for a football game, about how our grandparents’ generation used to go on ‘visits’ or in-person social calls to catch up for a few minutes with friends.  With the introduction of unlimited telephone plans and the internet, this act has all but stopped, but why not bring it back?

It’s not hard to pop in on someone, bring them a bit of coffee, and have a quick chat… so why don’t we do it more? The fear that we’re being rude and interrupting them? The worry that they wouldn’t feel ready?

We are fortunate enough to live in a central area of our town where friends frequently drive by and honk or, if we’re lucky, they stop.  I just love when people drop by.  It feels so traditional and enriching to know that we can have an impromptu interaction without a phone or computer.  I’m going to challenge myself to do this more, and this is how I’ll go about it:

  • make a preemptive phone call – “I’m in your neighborhood and I was thinking about you!  Can I stop and bring you a coffee?”
  • make it quick – stay 10 – 15 minutes tops
  • make it regular – when I say regular I mean more that once a year.  Dropping by someone’s house just once is creepy, dropping by seasonally is sweet.

Did anyone you know ever go for ‘visits’? Will you give it a try?

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  • I used to love it when I was a kid growing up in the country, there was such a community feel to where we lived. Sadly, I don’t feel it so much now I’m in the city.

  • We drop by people in our neighborhood all the time and people drop by our place. We have a few kids around that go the same school as our daughter and we have really nice neighbours. It’s nice – except the one family that continuously drops by right when we are putting the kids to bed – you’d think they get it after the first time 😉
    We also bring our excess veggies to our neighbours and talk with people at the corner while the kids bike and play.

  • I think this is a very sweet idea! I don’t have that many friends in my new town/state but I long for the day that I do… I love the casual drop-by. Our apartment in Brooklyn was in a very central area and we had friends come by a lot because they were shopping nearby or walking over the bridge or at the movies. I miss it!

    I wonder if this sort of thing is easier or harder to do when you have kids. You’d think it would be harder since you need to transport kids and all of their stuff, but maybe easier since kids playing together is a built in excuse to get together on the fly!

  • It’s so funny — I was just talking about this the other day with my husband. He’s HUGE for just stopping by and saying hi to friends and it makes me so uncomfortable! I would hate to interrupt something. But, on the flip side, I LOVE it when friends just stop by our house, so I don’t know what my deal is. I like your first suggestion of a quick phone call — I’m going to try that 🙂

  • I think its a sweet idea. Sometimes we are so caught up in our own world we tend to lose friends. So visiting is a great way to show you care. Its also important like you mentioned to not over stay a visit, maybe you are ready for an afternoon of socializing but the person you visit has other plans.

  • This is a great post and worth pondering!! Being raised in two cultures (Serbian and Austrian) I have personally experienced two diametrically juxtaposed versions of hospitality. While Austrian are way more reserved and not so “flexible” with impromptu visits, Serbians are all about hospitality. Among Serbians it is incomprehensible to announce visits in advance. It’s like totally weird:-) Guests are always, always welcome!

  • I definitely used to do this in college more often. I find that nowadays, sadly, I have to plan things with friends weeks in advance. I should start doing this more frequently though, or institute the 5-minute phone call.

  • I find that now that our friends have children, the only way we get to see them is if we drop by. We call ahead to make sure they are home and usually bring cookies or cake if it’s during the day or wine/beer/sushi dinner at night. Even though they aren’t able to get out much since they have small children, they are always glad (and thankful) that we stopped by because it usually turns into a 3-4 hour long play date for all of us.

  • I have fond memories of visiting others with my mom. We visited family, friends, nursing homes, shut-ins, the sick, you name it! I still love to “drop in” but I find we do it more around seasonal holidays and arrive bearing treats. I love it when people drop by here, but since having kids I do appreciate a call first to give me a minute to put proper clothes on or to let them know if there’s a better time (like, not nap or meal time). Either way, I think a phone call (or text) lets your friend know you care about them and that you respect their time with their family.

  • Your article made my heart stop a little bit – because it brought back so many fond memories from my childhood. You are totally right – communication got so “easy” that we’re forgetting some of the nicest ways to communicate with our friends and neighbors. I am down with you on bringing this back 🙂

  • this would be such a nice gesture! I usually do unexpected visits just with very close friends or family; but you’re right, let’s bring it back 🙂

  • My husband talks about this all the time, being from a small town in Guatemala, his friends and family members treated each other’s homes like their own and the kids just went from house to house to play and eat and it was a very communal outlook. It baffles him that no one here(especially family)ever just comes over… I think he thinks its a lonely lifestyle we live and sometimes I have to agree. I really like your idea of making an effort to bring back the “drop-in”.

  • Such an awesome tradition and thought to bring this back! My best friends does this, and it always makes me happy!
    Do you mind if I post about this and link back to you?
    Such a wonderful idea to bring back

  • What a wonderful and thoughtful idea! As a proud Southerner, I’m completely inspired to go on a “visit.” I’ll let you know how it goes…

    (Love, love, love your site btw!)