It’s the time of year when wallets start to creak, and it becomes a bit more painful for everyone to spend their hard-earned money. Purses don’t open as easily as they usually do, and bank account balances are generally under more scrutiny.   That’s right  … the holidays are upon us!

This highly anticipated time of cheer, complete with lights, Santa and merriment, is here. But when decorating is considered a major expense, you have to get creative. You have to think outside of the box, and use this time of year to capitalize on your community’s desire to give back. It’s a chance to build awareness, to create atypical reasons for people to come visit your office, and most importantly… it’s your chance to do some good. Here are some ideas for providing residents with services they’ll especially love at holiday time!  You’ll want to start your programs the day after Thanksgiving—Black Friday—so start making your plans now!

Elf Storage

Offer storage rates on those vacant garages or unrented vacant apartments. Lease out bedrooms that can be individually locked (we all know we have tons of locks lying around) and used easily and conveniently by parents to wrap gifts away from prying little eyes and hide gifts from their children until Santa makes his delivery!  Make certain to get a signed release of liability, a one month storage lease, and charge enough to cover the cost of utilities before handing them the key.

You can offer other kinds of storage (in a secure area of the clubhouse for example) as Elf Storage, just make certain in all cases that the area is secure, a release of liability is signed, and that all items are clearly marked and tagged by the owner when checking the items and out of the storage area.

Sound like a lot of work? Do what we did! Simply contact you local self storeage (drop the “S” and you have Elf Storage!) and let them know what you want to do! They gave me the space and we decorated a vacant unit for a gift wrapping party, including holiday lights outside the unit, and held several “block party” type gatherings for our residents. We had a great turn-out and the storage facility actually received some rentals! The unit was used by our sister communities throughout the season so we shared the expense. The events were so successful that following year we took three units side by side and had multiple communities hold their wrapping events on the same night, and each community’s management team took turns on responsibility. The staff time invested was decreased and our residents received full benefit.

Added tip: Buy several full reams of wrapping paper and save! I like the selection at Gift Wrap Gifts; and while you’re there, don’t forget to check out the clearance section for some amazing deals!

Make Room for the Christmas Tree

We all know living in an apartment can sometimes present space challenges, and especially during the holidays; so take a vacant apartment and offer to store a piece of furniture that needs to be moved out of the way to make room for a Christmas tree or a small holiday gathering of friends. Have the resident sign a liability waiver and personally check the item in and out.

Special Delivery

If you’re not already, begin accepting shipments of resident’s gifts from online retailers. But don’t stop there: offer to place the boxes in their apartments for them.  This is a great way to save them time during the holidays. The key is to make everything as easy as possible for the resident. Help with outgoing shipments, too, by allowing them to leave pre-postage-paid packages in the office for UPS/FedEx/USPS pickup; and make certain you stock up on the free shipping boxes that they offer.

Host Wrapping Parties

One or two nights a week, hold an event where everyone is invited to come to the model to wrap their gifts! Provide all the necessities at no charge:  paper, scissors, tape, bows, and gift tags.  Serve cookies, hot cocoa and cider. Since the event is all contained within a model, it’s both easy to find (and easy to introduce potential residents to the benefits of living in our community)! For $200 or less, you’ll generate a ton of goodwill! Don’t have a model? Use a vacant apartment, or as seen in the photo below, a vacant garage!

Become a Donation Location

Keep in mind that  residents like to help others in need around the holiday season; and by using your community  as a drop-off site for charitable donations, you provide a valuable service while building awareness of your  community and its location, and demonstrating your commitment to caring and service to everyone in your neighborhood area.

You can become a drop-off site (or on a larger scale, donate a vacant apartment for use as a processing site where items are gathered from the larger area and prepared for distribution) for the United States Marine Corps’ Toys for Tots program, Salvation Army Angel Tree, and other organizations; and there are probably a variety of locally-based programs in your area—including food banks—that you can become involved in serving, as well. You may also consider hosting your own toy drive and opening your community as an “Open House” site that underprivileged families can visit to select toys for their children.  Why not host a mitten/hat/scarf drive? Or a canned food or winter coat drive? Become a “go to” destination that area families can visit and do something great for the community while they’re out on their annual drive to see the holiday lights!  There’s no more positive way to get attention for your community than to EARN IT by doing something good!

Holiday Parades

Most mid- to large-sized towns have an organized, well-attended holiday parade; and if your community does, use it to promote your community!  If you have a partnership with a moving company, turn a truck into a colorful, moving billboard; or use an open vehicle as “Santa’s Sleigh” with the  Big Guy himself and your staff throwing candy and small gifts to the crowd (branded with your logo and/or message, of course).

There are opportunities aplenty during this time of year, and only a little creative thinking is needed to help make your community or company a memorable part of the holiday experience for your residents and future residents.  It’s never too early to celebrate the spirit of giving, so Happy Holidays to you and your team from all of us at Team Multifamilypro!

Looking for more holiday ideas and low cost or money making opportunities for your community?  Join Tami on  November 10th to get your holiday strategy completed!  (REGISTER HERE!)