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Holiday Time! Some community events you can try out this year

Poor Thanksgiving. It seems that as soon as Halloween ends, I start to hear Christmas music in the stores. I saw my first Christmas commercial over the weekend; the DROID one with the snowman. As much as we'd like to wait to start our holiday planning until after Thanksgiving, we just can't. The time to start coming up with ideas and strategies for your holiday community events is now. I am hoping that this blog post can turn into a collaboration... I will throw some ideas at you but I would really love to hear what you have tried, done, thought of, etc. Here are my low to no cost ways to celebrate the holidays at your community:

Dear Santa Letters Setup a post office box, drop a post on your Facebook page (or newsletter) and get parents to have their kids write to Santa. They can send it to your newly established post office box. Then just before or after Christmas post all the letters in a newsletter or some other media. Here's a twist: Hire a Santa to give replies (hopefully with a lot less innuendo as the Old Spice guy) and post them to your YouTube page.

Visit from Santa Get Santa to stop by your community and hand out Candy Canes and/or other treats. Often times you can talk to your local fire department and see if they can drive through your community. Some fire departments will use the firetruck to tow a sleigh. Awesome to watch the look on the children's faces. Here's a twist: Have Santa come to your leasing office for a day. Fun for everyone.

Christmas card contest Get your residents to send in their Christmas cards. (Normally these are those family photos) Judge the best one and put it up on Facebook, newsletter, or your front window. Here's a twist: Create leasing office cards and mail them to every resident.

Decoration contest This idea will be touchy for some communities. Some people have lease restrictions so create this contest in compliance with your rules. Maybe you can restrict it to their windows or their balcony. This is another way to get the community talking. Here's a twist: Don't forget to decorate your leasing office... over the top works best

Movie Night If you are a community that frequently has movie nights then pop in your favorite Christmas movies and bring your residents in. If you can't then buy a whole pile of your favorites and allow your residents to "rent" them for free during the holidays. Don't forget to stock up on Christmas Vacation ... one of the all time favs. Here's a twist: Have a contest to name famous quotes from Christmas movies. "You'll shoot your eye out kid."

I hope I've gotten your creative juices flowing. Do you have some ideas to share? Come Tweet them on #mfholidayideas or join the new group on Multifamily Insiders!

Follow my Tweets @BSitko.

Thanks to FreeDigitalPhotos.net and Wikipedia for the pictures.

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  • Great topic, Bill, and perfect timing as we have something very exciting in the works for this holiday!! I really like the movie idea, and here are my top five Christmas-related movies:

    1) Elf
    2) A Christmas Story
    3) Scrooged
    4) It's a Wonderful Life
    5) The Santa Claus

    Anybody else want to share theirs?

  • Thanks for the comments. Your list is great Brent. Here's mine:

    1) Christmas Vacation
    2) It's a Wonderful Life
    3) Scrooged
    4) White Christmas
    5) A Christmas Story

  • Here are three different thoughts:

    Many of your residents aren't from your area and won't be able to make it home for the holidays. One year a community I managed (an upscale 25-30 something age profile) held a covered dish Thanksgiving dinner. The community provided the turkey/dressing/potatoes and residents brought the rest. Non-cooks brought a bottle of wine. We rented tables and chairs and made the clubhouse into one big family dining room. We were overwhelmed with the turnout and the residents were thrilled that they got to have Thanksgiving dinner with "family" even though they weren't going home. We hosted this the Friday before Thanksgiving.

    Make it personal, especially at Christmas, its an emotional time for everyone. At this same property we hosted a formal Christmas party, cocktails and party food soon after our management company had taken over this community. We were told turn out for social events had been dismal in the past. Our staff created Christmas cards and then hand wrote a personal message on each one, "Ron, we would really enjoy seeing you at the Christmas party next Friday, bring a guest if you like-Angie and I will both be there..." Our turn out was great and people commented that they had never been to any of the social activities there even though the community had them every month. Many people fear showing up, knowing no one and being the wall flower.
    We also called and left messages for residents reminding them and asking them to be OUR guest.

    Lastly, try an old fashion caroling party through out your community. Have words to the music printed off, have extra flash lights and ask residents to bring their own. Providing background music via an ipod or boom box with speakers helps keep people in tune. Make sure to stop and visit your senior residents and always ask if they would enjoy your music. Have cookies and hot chocolate (don't forget the whipped cream!)and/or hot buttered rum back at the clubhouse.

  • Excellent Penny... nothing else to say. Thanks for sharing these wonderful ideas.

  • Tonirae

    Bill- I love your topic! These are great ideas and I can not wait to share them! I am all for getting the Residents involved! I am also all for the Gingerbread houses! If possible, communities can host a Gingerbread House Building Night in the Club House, or where approriate, for the Residents. Playing Christmas music will get everyone in the spirit. Residents can either bring their own supplies or if budget allows, the office staff can provide icing, gum drops, graham crackers etc. A very inexpensive night of fun. As a parting gift, give each Resident a Candy Cane with Resident Referral cards! :D Oh and did I mention, the finished product can also act as decorations in the leasing office. Prospects would love to see how involved the community is! :D

  • Really great ideas Tonirae. I love the candy cane with a resident referral card. Subtle and sweet. I am trying to avoid the temptation of playing my Christmas music early.