Though it may seem a bit early yet to start thinking about Christmas parties and yuletide gatherings, any experienced party planner will tell you that the time to start thinking seriously about your holiday event is now. That’s certainly true among HOAs. A holiday parties for your HOA or gathering is perfect for building community and bringing your neighbors together. However, if you’re going to have any kind of gathering, you’ll want to start plotting it now.

In fact, you probably should start planning for next year’s holiday gathering, at least from a budgetary standpoint. A good holiday gathering will have food, decoration, music, and perhaps some form of entertainment; some HOAs bring in caterers and string ensembles to play at these gatherings, but that obviously requires some money. If that’s the kind of party you want to have, you may wish to put it in the budget well in advance.

But what about this year? What about now? You don’t necessarily have to have an expensive party in order for it to be fun. A potluck event, or something with just a few appetizers and finger foods, can certainly be a good time.

An alternative: Instead of a holiday party, brainstorm some other ideas for inexpensive, community-building activities. For example, many communities have holiday decoration contests, in which homeowners are encouraged to dress up their homes for the festive season, with an unbiased panel of judges picking the nicest looking home and awarding some sort of a gift card to the homeowner.

Whatever party or event you choose to hold, be careful not to needlessly ruffle feathers. Even if most of your homeowners are Christmas celebrators, referring to your event as a holiday gathering is probably a good way to avoid having anyone feeling left out.

A final thought: Whatever you plan, make sure it’s well-advertised. Get owners excited about it, and eager to participate. That’s the key to a holiday event that truly fosters community spirit, and brings people together.

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