New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community
Beth Brittingham in Board Operations on December 9, 2011
Photos with Santa
One of our buildings hosts a family event that includes photos with Santa. The day begins at 10 a.m. with a visit from a hired, professional Santa Claus, whose costume is impeccable and who plays the role with the necessary care. Parents bring their cameras and take pictures. In the New York City area this next part probably only applies to Staten Island, the far parts of Queens and nearby Long Island and New Jersey, but at 5 p.m., residents at this building can jump on a horse-drawn carriage for a 45-minute holiday hayride. This has become one a community tradition that sells out every year, which helps to cover the related costs.
Another building holds a party in its community room — two, actually: one for the kids early in the day and one later for the adults. The evening starts with caroling in the lobby. Santa arrives and flips the switch for the light displays. The kids then enjoy small gifts from Santa, while the adults get tickets at their party for door prizes donated by local vendors and those doing business with your co-op or condo.
Holiday Decor and Community-Building
This same place hosts a door-decorating contest. The doors are judged by commercial-space tenants. There is a holiday reception to announce the winners, giving different groups an opportunity to socialize and get to know each other. Photos are taken and placed in the building newsletter, so homeowners know who the winners were and who participated from the retail community.
Another event in which the community participates is a holiday fair in the commercial area. With the economy still recovering and vacancies still in some retail shops, the board has been supportive of initiatives to help draw shoppers to the area. With the help of the retail-property managers, vacant spaces are donated and craftspeople, artists and other vendors are invited to a holiday festival that includes horse-drawn carriage rides, a visit from Santa, radio-station appearances (draw from a local college station and other small stations that may want to do a live remote of carolers in exchange for promotion or a fundraising table), drawings for prizes, scavenger hunts, food sales, retail/commercial information booths, product demonstrations and more. In addition to drawing attention to the local merchants, it’s a nice event for residents in the buildings.
One building I know of decorates a tree for a seniors community and sponsors a local family in need. Volunteers decorate the tree as a "wish-list tree" with envelopes for items the family has requested. Residents pick an envelope and make the family’s wish come true.
The community also hosts a seasonal happy hour where residents bring their own dish and beverage. With a winter wonderland theme, residents receive prizes for favorite dish. There is also a 50/50 drawing, where the winner gets to pick a charity of his or her choice to which the board donates the other half of the winnings.
Beth Brittingham is a community manager with Legum and Norman, AAMC. She is a Community Associations Institute-designated Certified Manager of Community Associations (CMCA), Association Management Specialist (AMS) and Professional Community Association Manager (PCAM) who has managed a variety of communities, including condominiums and homeowners associations. This is adapted from her article at Association Times.
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