Community association activities and events build connections, strengthen relationships with neighbors, and are a lot of fun. Many communities pump up the jams, roll the movie reels, and gather residents throughout the summer, but the gatherings can occur year-round too.
From the small to the extravagant, good community activities and events require planning, flexibility, and communication. Party on with some of the tips below:
Plan well in advance. Brinna Kerrick, CMCA, AMS, general manager of the Cottonwood Canyon Hills Homeowners Association in Lake Elsinore, Calif., recommends at least three months ahead of time. “Now that the COVID-19 pandemic is over, people are getting out more and like planning ahead,” she says. Vendors are busier than ever, and business partners may be booked.
Know your demographic. It’s important to vary events over time, given changes in the makeup of your community. Jan Newcomb, board president at Springhurst Townhomes Homeowners Association in Huntington Beach, Calif., recommends using surveys or finding time at town hall meetings to ask what residents want. “Make sure you have a good mix of child-friendly as well as adult-oriented events if you have a need for both in the community,” she says.
Be nice to permit people. Big events require permits from a variety of officials, among them the fire marshal’s office and local building, zoning, and health departments. “Don’t mess with the folks who sign your permits,” warns Kristi Felouzis, CMCA, AMS, PCAM, general manager for South Riding Proprietary in Virginia. “They are just doing their jobs. Grumbling about the cost and how slow they may be will get you nowhere fast.”
Be flexible. No sign-ups for an event? Don’t hesitate to cancel and find another life for any unused supplies. The Glen at Tamiment Property Owners Association in Pennsylvania’s Poconos Mountains planned a Mother’s Day tea party last year but only three people said they wanted to go. “We used the food and decor to hold a volunteer appreciation brunch instead and had 30 people attend,” says Cindy Toscano, board president at The Glen.
Get the word out. Communicate event information early and often. The Glen uses social media, flyers, website calendar listings, mass emails, and a sandwich board with magnetic letters at the property’s entrance to let residents know what activities and events are in the works.
Make sure you’re covered. Cottonwood Canyon Hills’ social committee works with the association’s attorney and insurance broker to ensure it follows guidelines and has “appropriate contracts in place to protect the association from liability, as much as possible,” Kerrick adds.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. “There is no such thing as a perfect event,” Toscano says. Set your definition of success ahead of time and focus on the happiness or camaraderie that you witness, “as opposed to who dropped the tray of cupcakes.”
In the end, Toscano says the most important thing with community activities and events is this: “Be flexible, pay attention to feedback, and have fun!”
Photo caption: South Riding Proprietary, a large-scale community in Virginia about 30 miles west of Washington, D.C., hosts a range of annual activities and events with everything from bingo nights to a two-day carnival the first weekend of June. Above, residents gather in advance of the annual Star-Spangled South Riding fireworks. Photo courtesy of South Riding Proprietary.