Five Holiday and Winter Community Event Ideas That Engage Residents
Improve resident experience with these highly marketable event ideas.
“Resident experience” is the hot topic in the apartment industry these days — and for good reason. When you’re able to achieve a positive resident experience, you’re also able to achieve more renewals and new leases.
Importantly, a huge part of creating a positive resident experience is fun resident events; however, it can be difficult for your property to host regular, planned events, especially if it’s small to mid-sized. In general, it’s probably not a question of whether your team wants to do events, but rather a lack of time, ideas and budget.
To help you fill out your resident event calendar for the upcoming holiday season and bring a spark of joy to your community, here are five easy, affordable, and unique ideas:
1. Lend a helping hand.
Often, people want to volunteer and lend a helping hand to others, especially during the holiday season, but don’t know where to go or what to do. If your team figures out all of the details and sets up an easy volunteer opportunity for your residents, you may be surprised how many residents say “yes.”
For something hands-on and in-person, you can partner with a local charity, food pantry or homeless shelter. For something simpler, you can organize a canned food, toy or clothing drive within your community. Coordinating a drive will be as easy as keeping a collection bin in your leasing office or lobby and getting the word out to your residents through social media posts, flyers and emails.
To help improve the chances of residents joining in, you can even offer a selection of dates for when they can volunteer if you’re doing an in-person event. The recipient organization will be so appreciative of the support and your residents walk away feeling good about giving back to the community.
2. Host a holiday potluck and create a cookbook.
This idea is a cool twist on a classic resident event. At least a week before the potluck, have your residents submit the recipes for the dish they will be bringing to the dinner and compile them all into a seasonal, winter cookbook. Then, give a copy to each of your residents at the end of the potluck. Not only will your residents enjoy time together and a yummy dinner, but also receive a special token they can take home and enjoy for years to come.
As an additional tip, the more you can make it feel like a true cookbook, the more likely your residents are to keep it on their shelf. It also is recommended to put your community’s logo on it and giving the cookbook a fun, memorable name.
3. Make trendy winter wreaths or garlands.
This is a great winter-themed craft and activity that is relatively inexpensive and will get residents to come out and participate. This is because it is both a low-commitment and high-value event. For residents, there’s nothing better than free holiday home decor that will take under 30 minutes to get. Plus, it also creates an opportunity to do a community-wide giveaway for the wreath that gets the most likes on social media after you share them all.
If you’re not sure what to get for this resident activity, there are tons of videos on YouTube that show you how to make incredibly beautiful wreaths from supplies from the Dollar Store. You really can’t go wrong!
4. Build mini gingerbread houses.
The “mini” part of this resident event idea is key because the idea of putting together a full-sized gingerbread house can easily feel overwhelming and time-consuming for residents. It’s understandable why they might then be deterred from the whole icing and gumdrop ordeal.
However, if you make it a mini gingerbread house creation night, it’ll be much more enticing and unique. Who doesn’t like things that are mini? Not to mention, there’s no shortage of miniature-sized candy you can grab for decoration.
This will be a fun, creative, hands-on event for your community that is family-friendly and good for people of all ages. This is also another event you can share all over social media and have your audience vote on the prettiest (or funniest) mini gingerbread house for a special prize!
5. Host a post-holiday happy hour.
While a happy hour is a popular resident event, hosting one in celebration of your residents making it through the holiday season makes it super fun and unique. After all that decorating, shopping and cooking, who wouldn't want a drink? Also, it is much more likely your residents will attend an event after rather than during the holiday season.
To make it extra special, your team can even craft a signature drink that’s named after your property and turn it into a tradition where you serve it every year. For the cherry on top, you can order some low-cost drinking glasses with your logo printed on it.
Hands-On Activities + Souvenirs = Marketing Magic
While it might feel a little unnatural and “promotional,” try to view every resident event as a marketing opportunity — take photos and videos, create stories, make TikToks and share, share, share!
Another recommendation for consideration is pairing a souvenir or take-home item, such as the drinking glass or cookbook, with every event. Residents love to be able to walk away with something they can keep and use in their home. Not only will it entice them to show up, but they’ll walk away with that warm feeling that comes with a smile (and maybe leave you a review or two).
Ashley Tyndall is Chief Relationship Officer for Criterion.B.