How To Create HOA Rules for Holiday Decorations
As the Holiday season approaches, you can expect your residents will be decorating the halls - and everything else - with their favorite holiday decorations. At the same time, HOA boards may wish for the entire area to follow a consistent decorative style. Unfortunately, that is not how the holidays work. One family may "gingerbread" their house with a glimmering colorful outline. Another will almost certainly bring eight (or nine) reindeer into the yard. Another home might go wreath-crazy, and at least one will desire the inflated 7-foot-tall singing snowman. Where do you draw the line?
An HOA can establish appropriate decoration standards without excluding anyone or appearing Grinch-like to all but the most lavish decorators. Based on cultural sensitivity and a generally acceptable approach, here are a few helpful ideas for your HOA's Christmas decoration rule-setting:
"Keep it Reasonable" Decoration Rules
You can and should request that your residents keep their decorations to a reasonable level. While you can't force anyone's choice in holiday decorations, you can keep it within size, light, sound, and scheduling constraints that most of your inhabitants will agree on.
Size and Inflatable Limitations
Many localities, understandably, prohibit the use of inflatable and huge 3D displays. However, you can advise your residents to maintain their decorations within specific size constraints and utilize inflatables with caution. "No decorations taller than 5 feet tall," for example. This will also include the 20-foot spiral-light tree concept that some houses acquire every several years.
Light and Noise Pollution Rules
You might also request that your residents limit the use of overly bright or loud decorations. You can ask that they avoid "singing" decorations or dial down the sound so that only very close pedestrians can hear. A little automated caroling is acceptable, but not for the entire street.
Reasonable Timing Agreements
Set suitable times of day for turning on and off decorations. Most people agree that holiday decorations look best in the early evening, but no one wants to wake up at 3 a.m. to hear Santa "HO HO HO" into the night.
Finally, standards governing decorations that are reasonably non-offensive are required. For example, you might allow a "Crashed Santa" scene, but only if it's ridiculous. Likewise, anyone planning on dressing up for Halloween with fake blood and antlers (or other culturally offensive content) should reconsider.
"Keep it Safe" Decoration Rules
Your neighborhood will also understand when the decoration rules relate mainly to the health and safety - of residents and passers-by.
Properly Anchored and Stable
Any huge or inflatable decor must be adequately anchored. For example, we don't want any inflatable snowmen flying off and covering someone's windshield while they drive. Similarly, plywood Santas and wire reindeer should not constitute a menace to neighboring pedestrians.
Limited Rooftop Decor
A few lights along the eaves are attractive, but other rooftop decorations are simply dangerous - both for the residents who put them up and for those who walk by. This provides you the freedom to limit huge and heavy roof decorations of any kind.
Turn Off Motion-Sensing Animations
Motion sensors are fun-scary for Halloween but less cool during the winter holidays. However, many residents will enjoy it if you simply cross "jump scare" Santas with motion-detecting tunes and movements off the list of lovely decorations.
No "Unreasonable Temptations" for Children
Finally, make a special rule for no "undue temptation" for the local children. No Santa's ladders onto the roof, for example.
Culturally Sensitive Rules
Finally, ensure that all of your HOA décor guidelines and community decor selections are culturally sensitive. Be cautious not to outlaw anything with cultural significance or promote anything overly linked with one culture over another. Fortunately, "Yule" (evergreens and candles) is deemed neutral ground.
General Decorations in Public Spaces
Keep your decorations culturally neutral in public locations such as street lighting, parks, and clubhouses. Your best bet is to use wreaths, trees, and garlands. Glass balls, candy canes, and gifts are secular, but angel tree toppers are not.
Avoid Color and Theme Limitations
Color is something to be cautious about. Not everyone recognizes that different civilizations have different celebration colors. Hannukkah, for example, is connected with blue and white and gold (or blue and silver), but Kwanza is associated with black, red, and green. So don't forbid or overly emphasize any particular color palette.
Neutral Neighborhood-Wide Decorations
Passing out decorations for everyone to place on their door or mailbox is a fun approach to help unify your community. Ribbon decor in candy cane red and white is trendy, and simple evergreen wreaths also make an excellent neutral yet attractive unifying theme.
Navigating your HOA's holiday decoration regulations and themes can be difficult. However, if done well, it is rewarding for everyone. So enjoy the variety of holiday styles in your area, knowing that your neighbors are keeping it safe and reasonable.