For many multifamily property owners, holiday celebrations are critical to tenant retention. Not only do they offer value for renters (free food, prizes, fun games, socialization opportunities, etc.), but they also contribute to the overall sense of community on the property -- both important aspects when looking to retain tenants.
But the pandemic has made hosting these celebrations a challenge this year. There's social distancing to keep in mind, and many cities and states actually have caps on how many people can gather in a single space. Both limitations have rendered traditional holiday gatherings -- things like parties and happy hours -- out of the question.
Fortunately, that doesn't have to mean canceling the holidays entirely. Want to ring in the season at your property safely and memorably? Here are five ways you can do it.
Host a grab-and-go event
Rather than having a big buffet dinner in the lobby, hire a caterer to put together individual boxed meals instead. Include a main course, a dessert, and maybe even a to-go cocktail or mini bottle of bubbly, too, and have your residents come pick them up at staggered times throughout the night.
You can also use this idea for a breakfast/brunch meal or something fun for the kiddos, like a s'more-making or gingerbread cookie kit.
Do a virtual scavenger hunt
Hide holiday-related items throughout the property, and encourage residents to snap photos and post them on Instagram or Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) when they find them, tagging your property. Each photo can be an entry for a prize or some sort of raffle.
You can do something similar with Elf on the Shelf, too. Just as you would with your kids, hide Elfie in a different spot on the property every night. The resident who finds him the most times gets a prize.
Start a Secret Santa exchange
Have each resident fill out a quick questionnaire about their interests, likes, and dislikes, and then assign everyone another tenant in the building. Set a money limit, a deadline, and send them off to shop. You can either have the Santas drop their wrapped gifts off at the recipient's door or hand them to the front desk to disburse.
Install a Santa mailbox
If there are lots of kiddos on the property, consider putting out a Santa mailbox. You can deck it out with lights, bells, garland, and other holiday decor and then encourage little ones to write out their wish lists and mail them to the North Pole. If you have the budget, you could even put out paper, envelopes, and crayons for the kids to use right there in the lobby.
Bring in a socially distanced Santa
Santa pictures are always a huge hit; just make sure you come up with a socially distanced way to do it. Many setups are now using a plexiglass divider (often. one that looks like a snowglobe) to put a fun and safe spin on the tradition.
If you go this route, consider hosting different sessions -- one for kids, one for pets, one for couples, etc. You'll get more traction out of it.
The bottom line
The holidays may look a bit different this year, but there are still fun ways to celebrate with your tenants and keep their spirits up.
Want to do more to retain those tenants? Make sure an end-of-the-year survey is on your radar, too.