Holiday Decorating

November 2018

An important part of festive occasions is decorating our homes.  Some holidays, such as Christmas, have religious significance to some.  Others, like Halloween, are purely for enjoyment.  In densely populated areas including condo buildings which contain a diversity of faiths, backgrounds, beliefs and traditions, holiday decorations can become complicated.

Holiday decorating should be handled like any other form of condo governance.  Consistency, fairness and community should always be considered.

Some feel holiday decorating creates cohesion and boosts morale.  Others may feel that flashing lights are an unnecessary nuisance and hazard that negatively impacts on the condo community.  Some decorations may be offensive to others.  Condo boards are entrusted to balance these concerns for the benefit of the entire community.

In some condo communities this may mean no formal policy on holiday decorations.  Other communities may have rules forbidding the displaying of any holiday items or religious decorations outside of suites.  Some buildings may decorate lobbies for major holidays that include Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanzaa.

Tips for managing holiday decorations:

  • Establish a committee to handle holiday decorations for common areas.
  • Where holiday decorations are allowed on doors or windows, identify what decorations are allowed and establish allowable dates.
  • Prohibiting decorations that are a fire hazard or which block doorways is part of most municipal building codes and does not need to be replicated in condo rules.
  • Certain religious decorations, including Christian cross or Jewish mezuzah, on doors are generally acceptable regardless of condo rules.
  • Not all holidays are religious. Canada Day and Remembrance Day allow people to be patriotic and respectful.  Halloween is a fun period having no religious significance to most people.

With some imagination, common area decorations can utilize neutral or winter-themed decorations including snowflakes and lights while incorporating aspects of multiple religions.

People want to feel comfortable in their home and holiday decorations are part of this comfort.  Condo corporations can recognize this desire and be accommodating while respectfully establishing some controls to avoid making others uncomfortable.

The right combination of holiday decorations can enhance a building’s sense of community and improve morale.  They can be respectful of personal expression while being festive, aesthetic and sensitive to cultural considerations.

There will always be people who object to certain holiday decorations.  Following established rules and having the process overseen by a committee allows those with an interest to participate while avoiding actions that can inflame matters.