‘Tis the Season…or Is It? Celebrating Holiday Cheer

Most everyone has fond memories of celebrating holidays at home, school, church or synagogue, and maybe even in a town square or community center. Holidays offer a break from routine, usually different foods and treats—maybe even gifts! These special days are also a good excuse to put up seasonal decorations, not just in individual residences, but in the common areas and shared outdoor spaces of multifamily buildings and associations. Lights, garlands, banners—they can all contribute to a warm, festive atmosphere when done tastefully and with some friendly consideration for the diversity of today's condo communities.

It's a Small World

Time was, the definition of holiday decorating was almost exclusively limited to Christmas trees, creches, menorahs, and angels. A movement towards recognizing diversity in the early ‘90s expanded peoples' awareness of different holidays and cultural celebrations, and inspired many multifamily communities to acknowledge and celebrate the heritage and holidays of their own diverse populations.

While few would argue against inclusivity and sensitivity toward one's neighbors—particularly those living in very heterogenous urban areas—handling holiday decorating and events among a diverse array of residents may pose a few concerns for both residents and board members as everyone strives to maintain a fair (and legal) approach to seasonal displays. In addition to being neighborly and respectful of the various cultures represented in a community, there are also the issues of what is considered aesthetically pleasing and safe.

Finding My Religion

Perhaps the best way for an HOA board to begin formulating a holiday decoration plan is to reach a consensus on which holidays will be recognized for community celebrating and decorating. A good place to start is at the top, with the national holidays recognized by the federal government. A quick visit to USA.gov provides an annually updated list with specific dates for all federal holidays, and other commonly observed occasions for celebration.

The 2015 federal holiday list displayed below from USA.gov provides a basic template for community planning: Thursday, January 1, New Year’s Day; Monday, January 19, Martin Luther King Day; Monday, February 16, Washington’s Birthday; Monday, May 25, Memorial Day; Friday, July 3, Independence Day; Monday, September 7, Labor Day; Monday, October 12, Columbus Day; Wednesday, November 11, Veteran’s Day; Thursday, November 26, Thanksgiving; and Friday, December 25, Christmas Day.

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