Decorating Apartments for the Holidays

By Tami Siewruk


Now, I know many of you are still decorating apartments for Halloween and Thanksgiving, but the yuletide season is close upon us.  While you’re carving jack-o-lanterns and stuffing cornucopias, here are a few apartment decorations ideas to get your brain started before December finds you without a plan for!  Check off the ideas that you’d like to implement this year, and you’re well on your way to a making your community a real Holiday Home!


Deck the Halls!


  • Start decorating apartments for December on the day after Thanksgiving. This not only gives you plenty of time to decorate appropriately, but helps you and your staff get into the holiday mood.  Break out the eggnog and put on some holiday music to really get the festivities flowing!
  • We all know that nothing smells like a real Christmas tree, but few things are more practical than a realistic-looking artificial one (the key word here is realistic… unless you’re going for retro kitsch, silver foil isn’t an option).  A little pine-scented potpourri in a pretty bowl can supply the scent, as can a few strategically placed real pine boughs.  (Note:  spraying pine disinfectant on your artificial tree will not do the trick. I only say this because I actually know someone who tried.)
  • Tiered rows of poinsettias make an excellent “tree”!  Have your service team assemble a stand made of progressively smaller boxes that stack on top of each other, with a wide enough margin around each to place rows of potted poinsettias.  Place a dowel in the center of the top box to attach a star!
  • Decorate your tree to complement your décor and atmosphere.  You can choose a more sophisticated, coordinated set of decorations; or make it a little more “homey” with hand-made ornaments contributed by your staff and / or residents. Add plenty of brightly wrapped “presents” (empty boxes) under your tree. Use the nicest wrapping papers you can find (red, green, silver, and gold foils look great). Your local fabric or craft store should have an excellent supply of ribbons from which to choose, including wire edged varieties that can be shaped into big elaborate looking bows with little trouble.
  • Remember that the holiday season doesn’t mean Christmas alone. Chanukah and Kwanzaa are also celebrations of the season.  Decorate for and plan community events accordingly.  Find out more about the holiday traditions of all your residents, especially if yours is a multicultural community. I once attended a holiday party where the host’s decorations included a gorgeous Christmas tree decorated in an African theme for Kwanzaa and a lovely Menorah burning in honor of Chanukah. The guests were inspired by the decor to get to know more about each other’s holiday traditions. We all learned a great deal that evening, and felt as though we had truly experienced the joy of the season.
  • Play holiday music in your Leasing Center, clubhouse, and even models!  The staff may tire of them, but they’ll really brighten the mood for your visitors.
  • Keep a running supply of holiday refreshments (cookies and punch or spiced cider) in the Leasing Center for visitors. A crock-pot full of warm spiced cider makes a great treat for future residents visiting on a cold day.
  • Lights are a must.  The tiny white outdoor ones are perfect for trimming windows and shrubbery (also great for adding sparkle year round!).
  • Don’t forget your models!  A miniature decorated Christmas tree on the coffee table or counter, a few wrapped “gifts”, and some pine or cinnamon potpourri is all it takes to add a warm holiday touch to a decorated model, or turns a vacant apartment home into a holiday mini-model!  Play a little seasonal music in the background, and you’re ready to welcome your new residents home for the holidays!
  • Be careful not to overdo it.  Simple elegance is best. Plastic figures on the roof or a puny tree can look tacky and convey a tired image.  Remember that the holidays can be a stressful time of year for your residents; and are especially trying for future residents who are searching for a new home during the hectic holiday season. Your message of polished professionalism will be well received and appreciated.

Happy Holiday Activities

  • Host a tree-trimming party in the clubhouse, and supply all of the materials for residents to make the ornaments!).
  • Hold a Christmas tree drawing. Give away a tree, complete with decorations!
  • Plant a live tree.
  • Hold a door, patio, or balcony-decorating contest.  Award the winners with a special wreath on their door, and / or a holiday gift certificate.
  • If you community features include fireplaces, deliver firewood on December 23rd with a note offering “Warmest Holiday Wishes.” If you can’t afford to give firewood away, make it available for convenient purchase on-site.
  • Promote January and February lease renewals by sending out a stocking cut out of construction paper that reads: “Spend another year with us and we’ll put something extra in your stocking! Renew your lease today!”
  • Hang stocking or wreath shaped party reminders on your resident’s doors the day of your holiday party.
  • Team up with a local charity to provide a gift-wrapping service to your residents.
  • Clear out a storage area and offer it to parents in the community as a “Santa’s Hideaway” for gifts. You may want to have residents sign a release of liability, and allow access to only select staff members.
  • Plan a “Twelve Days of Christmas” party count-down.
  • Hold a Santa’s storytelling hour in the clubhouse (gives parents a little free time to assemble and wrap presents!).
  • If your area allows referral incentives, create and distribute a referral flyer that reads “Let us Give You a Christmas Present!”
  • Host a one-day, on-site Christmas tree sale with a local charity that sells trees.
  • Print holiday safety tips in your newsletter.
  • Plan to offer Christmas tree recycling on-site.  It makes great mulch, and is a nice way to get some positive press as well!
  • Hold a drawing for front-row tickets to a local performance of The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol.

Last But Not Least – Remember to Stay in the Holiday Spirit


A warm inviting smile from your staff is the perfect crowning glory to your holiday decorating efforts. Greet everyone with a warm welcome, and ensure your faces and attitudes reflect the same joyous message that is presented by your community decor.  Nobody wants to lease an apartment from The Grinch!

Don’t be distracted by the Holidays to the point that you forget your number one mission. It’s more important than ever that our residents and future residents receive the full benefit of our commitment to provide quality service.


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