The holiday season is fast approaching which means I’m gearing up to enjoy my favorite spectator sport of the year. No – I’m not talking about watching football. I’m talking about watching the men in my HOA compete with each other over installing the “best” holiday display. From my point of view, what the “best” display consists of is certainly open to debate. However, I’m convinced the guys think “more is best.” 

Once the initial installation of their displays is complete, you will see some of the guys talking with each other comparing their artistic expressions. Appropriate adjustments are then made. However, some of them are a bit more subtle. You will see vehicles slowly moving past displays as they desperately try to count strings of lights and assorted decorations without being obvious. The next thing you know, someone will be teetering on a ladder in howling winds installing yet another string of lights. During this time, I make sure to let my husband know that he is being shown up by his neighbors. I then quietly wait to see what will happen next.


Let’s face it girls – this is a great time of the year for us! We can sit back with a cup of hot chocolate or glass of wine and simply watch the show unfold before our eyes. However, HOAs can rain on our parade when they prohibit or attempt to tightly regulate holiday decorations.


All kidding aside, the issue of holiday decorations can be a tough one to navigate for managers and boards of HOAs. Here are some tips for dealing with decorations while maintaining your holiday spirit:


●    Remember that taste is all in your mouth. Unless the governing documents of your association absolutely prohibit the installation of holiday decorations, do not prohibit folks from decorating the exterior of their homes. Furthermore, unless you are prepared to deal with angry residents and an enforcement nightmare, I don’t recommend that you regulate the types of lights or decorations that may be installed. Instead, take comfort in the fact that the even the most “creative” displays will only be up for a limited period of time.


●     Go ahead and regulate timeframes for holiday displays. It’s reasonable and advisable for associations to regulate when holiday displays may be installed and when they must be taken down following the holiday. As a general rule of thumb, many associations permit the installation of displays 30 days before a particular holiday and require them to be removed within 7 days after the holiday. However, this is not a hard and fast rule. Feel free to create timeframes that are reasonable and fit your specific community.


●     Regulating hours of illumination is a reasonable thing to do. If you live in a community where folks compete over the “best” holiday displays, it’s not unreasonable to regulate the hours that these displays can be illuminated.   Since many associations are densely built-out, holiday lights can be disruptive to neighbors. Setting reasonable hours for illumination can cut down on neighborhood disputes and will help get the “neighborhood grinches” through the holidays with as little angst as possible.


If the governing documents of your community prohibit the installation of holiday decorations or don’t seem to fit your community, you should really think about revisiting and revising these rules. If the prohibition exists in the declaration for your community, talk with legal counsel about amending the declaration or the pros and cons relating to not enforcing that particular provision. 


Oh and guys – I apologize if this blog entry seems to unfairly characterize the sport of holiday decorating as a male endeavor. I’m sure there are women out there – somewhere – who also engage in this sport!