Carol Staab
Associate Broker
Douglas Elliman
111 Fifth Avenue
New York , NY 10003

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How to Decorate Your Manhattan Building for the Holidays

Manhattan co-op and condo owners have strong opinions when it comes to decorating their building lobby. Here are some valuable tips to avoid conflicts!

Tip 1 – Picking The Decorations

Holiday decorating is typically controlled by your building board. If you want to get involved in the decorating then you need to get the board’s permission. Some boards will choose a dedicated decorating committee made up of residents who will present a plan to the board.

Tip 2- How Much Should You Spend?

Holiday decorating budgets vary according to how much money the board sets aside for this project. One board will use the same fake tree for decades and others will spend a ton of money for a real tree.

Either way the board treasurer or finance committee should set up a budget. The budget may change from year to year including a budget for a building holiday party depending on the budget. That said funds for decorating do come out of the residents’ pockets via their monthly fees. However, they would only be counted as a monthly expense in the building’s operating budget so it won’t cost you the resident any extra.

Tip 3- What Decorations Should We Use?

Most buildings repeat the same decorations year after year unless someone decides they want to invest in some new decorations. Avoid overly religious liable to cause offense. Also, they will have a longer life span lasting into the new year.

Many buildings do use Christmas and Hanukah themed ornaments. It is a good idea to represent the faiths in the building so no one feels left out. Match the style of ornaments to the building. If you live in a contemporary modern building then you could have a sleek silver menorah. Think classic arrangement of poinsettias for a pre-war classic building. Classic old-fashioned ornaments on the tree in a classic prewar building and contemporary sleek ornaments in a sleek glass plated condo. Don’t overdo it! Less is more!

Tip 4 – What To Avoid

Don’t have menorahs with real candles obviously to order to prevent a fire hazard. If the tree is live make sure it receives plenty of water. Make sure all decorations are supported correctly so they don’t topple over.

Tip 5 What To Do If You Hate The Design

Write a constructive letter to the board or managing agent. Whether management acts to make changes will depend on how many complaints they receive. So, if you are unhappy, campaign to see how many neighbors you can get that agree with you and approach management or the board with your dissatisfaction and suggestions.

Tip 6 – Are We In Danger Of Violating Any Discrimination Laws?

The Fair Housing Act prohibits buildings from favoring one faith over another. For example, if your building had a Christmas Tree, a crucifix and a nativity scene than that would violate the law. However, having a Christmas tree, a menorah and figurines of carolers would not.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development has ruled out that Christmas Trees, Menorahs and Santas are religious symbols. However, don’t post religious banners with religious text.