It’s the best time of year again, the holiday season! And now we’ll be swamped with those very important questions like what baked treats and other goodies should we make? What gifts to buy? And is it even possible to have too many decorations? And if you live in an HOA community or are an HOA board member, there’s so much more to consider. Like how can we celebrate and still follow the previously set HOA rules outlined in our governing documents? When it comes to combining an HOA and the holidays, there’s another level to the typical holiday stress. Not to worry! We’ve got you covered. In this post, we’ll share our favorite tips and tricks to help relieve any stress the holiday season may bring to your HOA.
Outdoor Decoration Guidelines and Regulations
The first one on the list is decorations. Many homeowners love celebrating and decorating for the holidays. I mean, who wouldn’t? While members would prefer having free reign over decorating for the holidays, it’s best to have some guidelines and regulations in place ahead of time. One of the responsibilities of a homeowners association is to improve property values which include maintaining and enhancing curb appeal. When establishing an HOA, many boards put together guidelines outlining curb appeal and the homeowner’s responsibilities to maintain it. These guidelines should include holiday decorations.
Some regulation examples would be:
- Size. If the HOA decides they don’t want any decorations that overpower the houses and the curb appeal of the neighboring houses, they can include size regulations.
- Noise rules for those extra special decorations. While decorations that play music are fun in theory, it can be frustrating for neighbors who want a quiet evening. In your guidelines, include information like what times during the day it’s okay for them to play, the volume limit, etc.
- Color restrictions. If you want to create cohesiveness within your community, you can have color restrictions to create a more uniform look in the HOA.
- Timing. We’ve all seen those houses with holiday decorations in February. To ensure that holiday decorations aren’t taken down too late, including a clean-up date in your guidelines.
- Decency requirement. This is perhaps the most difficult one. While we want to believe everyone would follow this one regardless, better to have it just in case. The holidays are for everyone, after all, and we want everyone to enjoy them.
By sharing and reminding your community of the holiday guidelines, we can avoid awkward situations like having community members take down decorations after they’ve already put in the hard work!
Enforcing Holiday Guidelines
Next, you have to enforce those holiday guidelines and ensure that the community members comply with the guidelines and regulations you have decided on. Definitely challenging, but it is definitely important!
Some ideas to assist in ensuring compliance would be:
- Sending out reminders (the sooner, the better!). Everyone, now and then, we could all use a reminder, right? Sending out a typed reminder of the guidelines and regulations for the holiday season is a good way to ensure all the members are aware of them and help ensure compliance.
- Inspections as needed. Inspections help cut down on members breaking the holiday rules. Make sure the members know when to anticipate an inspection and keep them fair.
- Setting up a system where neighbors can submit reports. If they spot something you have not, it is good to have a system where neighbors can report potential or concrete violations.
Of course, you don’t want to be too strict. These are your neighbors and this is your community, so make sure your guidelines are within reason and that if there’s a compliance issue you handle it with sensitivity. There’s no need to escalate an easy fix!
With the holiday season usually comes an influx in deliveries. From Amazon to FedEx, we’re usually given various drop-off times, and not every member will be home when their deliveries arrive. And while we want to believe those packages will be safe sitting out, the unfortunate reality is it’s not always the case.
- Here are a few ways to ensure that all holiday deliveries make it to their destination safely! By creating community between neighbors, there’s comfort in knowing someone can keep an eye out for left-out packages. They can also accept deliveries at their own home if needed.
- Instill a watch program. Even a seasonal watch program could help keep packages safe.
- Safety tips. Give members some ideas ahead of time as to how they can cut down on things going wrong with their holiday deliveries—for example, making sure to monitor package tracking or a designated drop-off location.
Parking and Traffic
The holiday season is all about spending time with the ones we love, right? Whether that means flying, driving, or even just walking down the street. We all want to spend the holidays with the people who mean the most to us. And more often than not, that usually means more cars and more traffic.
So how do you prepare for an influx of cars entering and exiting your community? How do you keep your members safe? Here are a few steps an HOA can take!
- Signage. Make sure all necessary signs are clear, easy to read, and bright.
- Reminders. Send out reminders regarding how you want members to regulate extra parking and the usual parking and traffic rules for your HOA.
- Enforcement. When needed, you’ll have to be the bad guy to make sure that the rules in place are being followed by everyone as well.
Now, let’s get to the fun part! Community events are a great way to bring everyone together and spread the holiday cheer. And there are so many events to be had!
Bringing the neighborhood together helps build relationships and morale within the community. Here are a few community events you, the HOA, can host.
- Holiday dinner and or party. Everyone loves food. Host a potluck or have the event catered!
- Decoration contests. This is a fun idea, especially if you’re relaxed about holiday decorations, and allow your community to flex their creativity muscles (obviously within reason!). Plus, all you need to provide is the grand prize!
- Charity drive. Tap into the giving season and collect anything from canned goods to clothes.
Hosting community events, while important, can be overwhelming. There are so many great ideas, and staying on track and organized can take time and effort. The best place to start in my ascertaining interest. The more people interested in participating, the better! Once you know people are interested, start spreading the news! You want to give the board and the member’s plenty of time to prepare for an event. Remember, the earlier, the better. Start narrowing down the details and putting together a more detailed plan with venue, theme, date, and time.
The Bottom Line
As an HOA, you want to make the holidays enjoyable for everyone! Hopefully, with the tips and tricks above, you can now focus on the most important questions: Should everything have a pumpkin spice version, do holiday calories really count, and how many treats are too many?
If you’re a new HOA or an established HOA and need help preparing for the holiday season, consider working with an HOA management company like AMC Inc. (Association Management Concepts). We’re here to create community, streamline processes, and take the stress off your plate. Contact us today!