Posted by: christinelaennec | January 8, 2014

Our Open House

When we moved to our friendly street in Glasgow this summer, we decided to do something we once did in Aberdeen:  have an Open House for our neighbours.  Our New Year’s Open House invitation was designed by the Dafter and was truly a work of art, if I may say so.  She did a painting of the houses on our street with lit Christmas trees in the windows, and fireworks going off in the night sky overhead.

The afternoon came, and all became quite merry and bright inside if not out.  It was yet another extremely rainy and stormy day outside.  Here is my before-the-guests arrive cup of tea, that I had with a few minutes of calming knitting:

Getting ready:  the living room

Getting ready: the living room

We didn’t know who would come, but we reckoned we’d invited no more than 30 people.  The Open House was from 2 – 6 pm.

Getting ready:  Christmas cloth from Norway and the Christmas tree.

Getting ready: Christmas cloth from friends in Norway, and the Christmas tree.

Getting ready:  the dining room.

Getting ready: the dining room.

We’d made more Christmas cookies and spritz cookies.  I like Michael’s “love hart” reindeer:

Just in case you haven't had enough of Christmas cookies!

Just in case you haven’t had enough of Christmas cookies!

We decided not to bother with much alcohol, but had some non-alcoholic berry punch warming on the stove, lots of soft drinks, tea and coffee, and a bottle of champagne contributed by one neighbour who couldn’t manage to join us.  Do you like Michael’s beautiful Pendleton shirt?  A Christmas present from my mother.

The host with the most

The host with the most

What I don’t have a picture of is our bed, which was piled high with knitting projects, mending basket, all our coats from the hallway, papers and other clutter!

Those of you who know that the Dafter has been very unwell with ME/CFS may be questioning whether having a party was a good idea.  We had discussed it together, and she felt very strongly that she wanted to meet the neighbours (especially any children) and that she would go off and rest whenever she needed to.  So we went ahead.

Beautiful Dafter.

Beautiful Dafter.

We brought out our boxes of “toys for young visitors” – a tradition I’ve taken up from my mother.

Toys for young visitors.

Toys for young visitors.

And what happened?  Well, a very good time was had by all.  Almost everyone we invited came!  At one point the living room was jam-packed with people of all ages from babies to grannies, with many different conversations going on.  The dining room had people grazing the food and chatting in comparative quiet, and upstairs the Dafter (cleverly propping herself on a warm radiator for good back support) had organised four other children between the ages of 3 and 13 into a quiet game of “Who Am I?”

The conversations ranged from talking about the history of the residents of our street – some have been here for nearly 40 years – to discussing voting in the independence Referendum.  All very lively and interesting.

One of the best things for the Dafter was meeting another teenage girl who doesn’t live here, but comes to spend some weekends and part of her holidays with her mother.  I think they were both very happy to find each other.

The non-alcoholic punch was the surprise hit of the night.  And oh my goodness, people were so generous!  After everyone had left, we had 6 boxes of chocolates and shortbread unopened, four bottles of wine and three bottles of champagne.

After the party.

After the party.

We had assumed, as it is a very friendly street and people say hello and wave, that everyone already knew each other.  We’d thought, that will be okay – they’ll all talk to each other and we can just be busy getting food and drinks!  (Cowardly hosts that we are.)  But in fact lots of people hadn’t met each other properly before.  Many of our guests thanked us for having the party and said how good it had been.  One woman said, “Now I really feel Christmas has come to a proper close and I can start the New Year”.

The Dafter had a fantastic time and never needed to absent herself to rest, though she was very careful not to be on her feet for too long.  She also allowed herself to eat sugary things (which she normally never does) – that is a trick she uses to be able to do things that require some sustained exertion.  It works if you don’t do it too often!  The next day, although she was tired and needed to rest, she wasn’t overly exhausted or in too much pain.  I think the happiness of meeting other people and especially the other kids gave her a real boost.

One neighbour, in thanking us the next day, asked, “An Open House – is that an American thing?”  I suppose it is, I said.  I’m not really very sure!  But I will use my foreignness, as I often do, as a bit of an excuse to do odd things.  I wonder if someone else on the street will want to do it again next year?  Or maybe we can do it again in two years’ time.  I’ll keep you posted!



  1. This is a FANTASTIC idea, I wished I lived in your street, I would come right over to the Open House. This is kind of a thing everyone really would like to attend, but are to shy to organise themselves. In Norway people are quite shy, not so open to strangers – even neighbours. I don’t think such a thing as Open House would happen here. That said, we had organised a neighbour lunch this Christmas with two families, but we hang out a little bit anyway. But it was really nice, and we’ve agreed to make it into a tradition.

  2. This is just the most brilliant thing! How amazing to share such a gift of hospitality and generosity with people you don’t even know!

    ‘The Dafter’ is looking especially pretty (and grown-up!) in these pictures too.

  3. You were so clever to do this! I suppose it was a house-warming party, really. You realise you will have to do it EVERY year from now on, don’t you? 😉

  4. What a wonderful post, I feel all happy after reading that, Christine. 🙂 It was a great idea, and well done the Dafter (gorgeous footwear, by the way). I love your Christmas cloth, and my mum does the same thing with toys for children visiting. Michael looks very smart in his new shirt, and your house looks very welcoming, I’m not surprised a good time was had by all. I think Glasgow is going to suit you all very well as a new home.

  5. Such a lovely way to meet all your neighbours! (and so they could meet each other!) Glad the Dafter was able to take part and enjoy it too. Yay! xxx

  6. How lovely. Wherever we have lived we have done the same. Altho I have to repeat other comments and it will be yours again! I guess others dont think they can do it as well! Dafter looks amazing. Slim, beautiful, really growing up. And where did Tilly hide?

  7. Pendleton’s reminds me of our visits to Oregon – we’ve been customers of theirs there. I understand they have a long history of making blankets and shawls for the local Native people, which interested me.
    That sounds like a great party, and the Dafter is looking wonderful.

  8. We had an open house this Christmas (and last), neighbours, local friends, U3A friends of my parents, everyone seems to get on well and meet new people in the area. It’s good.
    I too love your daughter’s shoes and I’m glad she’s met someone more her own age in the area too.

  9. What a wonderful, tangible way to “love your neighbor!” I’m glad your daughter was well enough to take part–hope she has found a friend.

  10. What a lovely description, it really made me wish I could have been there! But I was hoping to see a photo of that sounded like such a lovely work of art!
    Due to illness, I never did make any shortbread this Christmas, so it was nice to look at all those cookies!

  11. What a lovely idea, I wish I lived on your street! Am I brave enough to do one on our street? Hmm, not sure, but I will certainly think about it. The Dafter is looking great!

  12. Brilliant! I have thought about our far flung neighbors. We took banana bread to our closest neighbor when we first moved in, but other than an occasional wave from afar we have not met our neighbors in the four years we have lived here!!!!!!!

    Thanks for your inspiring post, Christine.

  13. Sounds like a wonderful afternoon. Here in Holland we also invite our neighbours when we’re new in the street..
    Erna x

  14. Sounds like a warm happy time, so glad the Dafter enjoyed it so much. When I lived in Paisley in my early twenties, the folk were most friendly, always wanting to mother me. It’s a warming trait in that area.


  15. There are many people in this world who will say “Wouldn’t it be great if the street’s residents got together?”, and many more people, like me, who’d nod in agreement, but people like you who actually organise the event and host it are as rare as hen’s teeth (where I live, anyway). The positive impact on neighbourly relations will surely last for years.

  16. Glad you had a lovely time. Happy New year.

  17. What an amazingly wonderful thing to do!!! Look how much joy you brought to everyone on your street! Not only that, but how wonderful for the Dafter to be a hostess and to meet other children and to almost feel “normal” for a few minutes and join into life! Really, this was a very brave thing to do! Even I would be a bit on pins and needles doing this despite having company and strangers around here all the time. You were well rewarded for your effort and can we even say that this was a ministry to your neighbors. I agree, use your foreignness as an excuse if necessary. 🙂 But, at least your “foreign idea” was such a huge success!!! Apparently, my grandmother used to have an open house on Christmas Eve — my mom always tells me about it. Sounds just like yours. I would have loved to have stopped in and joined the crowd you had! I hope you can repeat this often! And I hope too that the people you met might become friends over time too!

  18. What a wonderful idea to get to know your neighbors! I have 2 luncheons during the holidays – one for my sisters and one for my blog friends. But I also like your idea! ((hugs)), Teresa 🙂

  19. A perfect way to herald the New Year. So especially glad for The Dafter. It reminded me of New Years times on Speyside when I was growing up. And no need for alcohol to fuel the merriment.
    I had a chuckle at your ‘few minutes of calming knitting’, as a few minutes of knitting would drive me into a fury!

  20. What a wonderful idea and so glad it turned out so well for you. Your daughter is so pretty and looks so lovely in that outfit. Good for you on the open house and what a great thing you did for the whole neighborhood. Perhaps you were brought there for a reason. God’s Blessings to all of you.

  21. Your open house looks like a wonderful success and I am sure your neighbors must have loved it immensely! Everything looks so festive and delicious and what a lovely way to ‘meet the neighbors’. The Dafter looks so pretty and Michael wears the Pendleton very well. I worked at a Pendleton shop when I was a young bride and loved the beautiful clothes and blankets. What a good idea to have the children’s table, too. I think you should make it an annual affair. So glad The Dafter held up and what a wonderful boost to her spirits to find a new friend. xo Karen

  22. What a lovely way to meet your neighbors, Christine. It sounds like you have some nice new friends. I really like the Dafter’s ruby slippers – just like Dorothy Gale’s. (There really is no place like home, is there?) ❤

  23. Dear All,

    Thank you as always for your tremendously kind and encouraging comments. I was interested to see that throwing an Open House isn’t just an American thing to do. I really would be happy to do it again, if not every single year then every other year to give others a chance! Maybe it just takes a “fool to rush in where angels fear to tread”. The Dafter was pleased that you thought she was looking nice. Her “ruby slippers” were a lucky Christmas find of mine, and we did joke about clicking her heels and wanting to go home – when she is home 95% of the time!
    Jill, Tilly mostly relaxed upstairs in her igloo, and seemed to be quite fine. I didn’t lock her in anywhere because that does tend to stress her out, and she can damage the carpets. However, at one point she came downstairs and got very uptight with the children, even biting a young guest’s trouser legs when she felt cornered. Very luckily this was J’s son, and they know Tilly to be a good kitty when not stressed, so I didn’t have to apologise for longer than about 15 minutes. We will have to think this through a bit more if we throw such a party in the future.
    Karen and Flora, I do really love Pendleton things. I recently was drawn to a pair of unusual Doc Maarten boots in a shop, only to discover they had incorporated Pendleton fabric into the design! I find it interesting that the white settlers appreciated the native designs enough to emulate them.
    Linda, how funny! I would never wish you to knit yourself into a fury! My knitting is perhaps your glass of wine.

  24. Very good idea!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: