5 Tips: Community Events at Any Budget for HOAs and COAs in Texas
For many Texans, one of the reasons for joining a homeowners association (HOA) or condo owners association (COA) is to have access to amenities, special activities, and community events that bring residents together. In fact, the sense of community is one of the most important reasons why so many people live in HOAs or COAs. They feel more comfortable living among a group of like-minded individuals who actively work to enhance the value of their biggest investment.
Successful social events in the community can help residents feel connected with others – a sense of belonging. An active community events calendar (often referred to as a "lifestyle program" by Texas associations) gives homeowners opportunities to socialize with neighbors and management staff. This also helps build relationships and trust within the community, which is the foundation of any successful Texas association.
“The most rewarding part of a great lifestyle program is helping neighbors connect and creating lifelong memories. Lifestyle is the difference between simply living in a neighborhood and belonging to a community.”
--Blair Bernier, Lifestyle Director at Paloma Creek in Little Elm, TX
In this article, we'll explore five simple ways to successfully execute neighborhood event ideas in your community no matter your association's budget. But before we dive in, let’s answer a few common Q&As people ask about lifestyle programs for Texas associations.
Who comes up with creative HOA or COA event ideas?
Depending on the complexity of your association’s event needs, these can be HOA or COA social committee ideas or those of other dedicated volunteers, who can work together with a community association manager.
For Texas associations in large master-planned communities or luxury high-rises with a variety of amenities and robust social events calendars, it may be beneficial to hire a lifestyle manager. A seasoned management company can provide onsite staff that includes a lifestyle manager or offer valuable training resources for board members and volunteers to build a successful program.
When hiring a lifestyle manager, it's all about choosing the right person. Your professional property management company can assist in finding someone who fits well with your community and works harmoniously with your staff and volunteers.
Look for a lifestyle manager who has experience in hospitality, event planning, marketing, recreation programming, and public relations. (Pro-tip: Award-winning lifestyle managers have proven track records of success and can bring fresh, innovative activities to your community.)
How do you come up with community event ideas that residents will enjoy?
The way an association defines its community's "lifestyle," combined with its overall financial plan, determines the neighborhood event ideas it chooses to implement. For instance, a family-focused community may prioritize social events and activities for children, while a luxurious high-rise property may lean towards more upscale activities. Ultimately, it all boils down to providing opportunities for community members to connect and engage through shared interests.
When coming up with creative HOA or COA ideas that align with your association’s budget, it's crucial for your board to have a clear vision for your community. This vision should be built from resident feedback and input, so start with engaging in conversation with them. Explore demographics, preferred participation days and times, desired events, and most importantly, identify residents willing and available to volunteer in the planning and execution process.
Aren’t community events expensive?
This is a common misconception when thinking about HOA or COA social committee ideas. However, the truth is budget constraints don't have to stop you from creating meaningful experiences for homeowners. There are community event solutions that can be applied no matter the HOA or COA's budget. It’s not just about hosting fancy and expensive events. In fact, each community's social events calendar is unique and tailored to its specific needs. While financial considerations are important, it's equally important to align with your association’s long-term goals.
A community events solution for every budget.Here are a few ways to successfully execute your association's neighborhood event ideas, no matter your budget. Let's explore how to customize your activities to fit your community's unique needs while enhancing residents’ lives.
Focus on people themselves.Encourage the formation of special-interest groups and clubs, like book or garden clubs, based on the homeowners' needs or hobbies. If getting clubs started has been a struggle, consider surveying your residents to identify common interests. Don't forget to ask if anyone is willing to lead a group. A trusted community association management company can lend a hand in surveying, establishing, and supporting special clubs and groups.
“The most rewarding part of our great lifestyle program is attracting new neighbors to different events and activities. It is so rewarding to see new faces, whether they are brand new neighbors or neighbors who have lived in the community for a while. We always find new ways to connect neighbors and build life-long relationships right here in our community.
We recently had a gentleman visit our HOA office who was widowed last year. At the urging of his family, he was encouraged to attend our events to meet others. Everett now regularly attends our Union Park 55+ weekly coffee, game nights, and so much more! Yesterday he baked brownies for us! This is the heart of lifestyle!”
--Jenny Laible, Lifestyle Manager at Union Park in Little Elm, TX; Lifestyle Director of the Year and Lifestyle Program of the Year at 2023 McSAM Awards
Maximize the potential of existing amenities.
Your community clubhouse, pools, or walking trails can be more than just additional features. Organize simple, engaging events like an ice cream sundae social at the clubhouse, senior aqua aerobics in the pool, or a step challenge on the trails to raise funds for a local charity. Utilize your existing amenities to bring people together.
Below is a photo from a recent Casino Night at one of Paloma Creek’s clubhouses – shows that events can be enjoyable and appeal to all ages with a variety of interests!
Always look for out-of-the-box ideas.
While traditional events like the springtime egg hunts or holiday visits from Santa may be crowd favorites, it's more beneficial to keep creative ideas fresh. Continuously seek innovative ways to incorporate evolving homeowner interests. Consider holding an expert-led wine tasting class or hosting a canned food drive for your local food bank. Simple, low-cost activities, like offering back-to-school first and last day pictures or hosting trivia nights, can all make a huge impact.
“Some of my favorites are Community Blood Drives, Community Low-Cost Pet Vaccinations Clinic, Self-Guided Neighborhood Scavenger Hunts, Trunk or Treat for Halloween, and Neighborhood Parades for things such as 4th of July or Christmas.”
-Shannon Buhrow, Lifestyle Manager at Providence HOA in Providence Village, TX
Highlight from recent Providence Pool Fiesta:
Get the word out – drum up excitement.
Once event plans are in place, it's time to spread the word to residents. Your community may have a top-notch social events calendar (a.k.a. "lifestyle program"), but if you're not seeing the level of excitement you desire, it's possible that you're not promoting it effectively.
Consistently communicate your activities and programs using various channels to reach your residents. While social media, community websites, and newsletters are fantastic platforms for promotion, don't overlook "old-school" methods like banners or signs in approved areas to inform residents about upcoming activities. To simplify the workflow for this, a reliable management company will have mass communication tools that automate invitations to residents and track RSVPs.
“You must first know the purpose of the event…Being consistent and specific with your marketing is a key component in helping to reach your target audience and enticing people to attend the event. Using multiple platforms such as eNews letter, Facebook, Instagram, email, flyers, etc. are great ways to reach out to residents to let them know what is happening in their neighborhood.”
-Shannon Buhrow, Lifestyle Manager (Providence)
Let the good times roll!
A well-crafted calendar full of successful neighborhood event ideas can elevate a community from good to great, regardless of budget size. The key to pulling off social events is to ensure residents, including board members and volunteers, have memorable experiences that make them want to attend future events, too. Ultimately, the goal is to make your neighborhood an even more desirable place for future buyers, but it all starts with building a strong sense of community and enhancing the lives of current homeowners.
“I love seeing residents build new relationships with one another and create genuine friendships through a shared experience that they may have not otherwise had. I also love seeing our residents share their photos online from an event. It’s rewarding to me knowing they wanted to capture that moment and remember it forever because they were having fun.”
–Shannon Buhrow, Lifestyle Manager (Providence)
Remember: The success of your community events is not dependent on the money spent. Rather, success is dependent on creating the best experiences and fostering meaningful engagement among your community members based on their interests.
Photo above: Goat yoga at Paloma Creek in Little Elm, TX
Whether it's a single-family or active adult community, you can always find ways to engage your residents and showcase the exceptional living standards in your community. From community-wide involvement to onsite lifestyle management, there is a solution for every budget! Plus, a solid management company that leverages expertise from a wide range of financial resources can help find the right budget for your association to build a successful social events program.
If you'd like to learn more about how your association can grow its own social events program, reach out to us today. We'll be in touch soon.
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