Making the Most of Your Condo Common Space for the Holidays

Condo Common Space

Now that Thanksgiving’s officially in the rearview, the giant meal of your choice is packed away (in Tupperware or your belly) and fall is truly on, we have a long string of holidays, both secular and religious, to look forward to as the winter moves in. With a season of get-togethers on the horizon—and the outdoors becoming less of an option—it’s a great time to check out your condo common space and amenities.

Know what you’ve got

It’s occasionally surprising—and yet perfectly explainable—how many of us don’t actually know which amenities our condo has, and what we can use.  While building amenities are often listed as perks when we’re signing a lease or buying, the responsibilities and requirements of everyday life can put those visions of swimming every day or a new workout regime out of mind pretty quickly.

First and foremost, refresh yourself on what your condo building offers and what procedure you should follow to get in on that action.  You might discover that floor you never go to has a fully-equipped TV room, complete with cinema seating, for a huge Halloween movie night, or that yes, your common dining room does have enough seating to have your family over for the first night of Chanukah—and a kitchen well-equipped enough to cater it right then and there.

Do your shopping all over again, and you’ll find ideas for entertaining—and great uses for those spaces—will suggest themselves just as quickly as you forgot them the first time.

Check out the rules

It’s the first step, always, when it comes to using common spaces in a condo building: Check out what your bylaws say about the number of people you can have over, the times of usage, and any responsibilities you might have to the space before and after you use it.

This is especially important for ideas like a pool party, which is probably one of the most fun events in theory—and most tricky in practice—for a condo renter or owner to pull off.  Does your pool have lifeguard hours?  Does it allow private parties?  (Many don’t.)  What’s the upper limit of people allowed in the pool area, and how many of them can be non-resident guests?

While the needs for a dinner or night in the TV room will be much more laid-back, check out what you’ll need to consider for cleaning the space after using it, the number of guests, the alcohol policy, and a potential deposit in case of damage to the furniture or fixtures.  Your condo will likely have a condo party room agreement that outlines all these details: Make sure you read it carefully and stick to it once it’s signed.

Book early—and before you send the invites

Toronto’ s a diverse city, and even if you’re not celebrating one of the holidays that get the most play in malls and commercials, there’s very likely to be at least one neighbour in your condo building who will have a use for a common amenity that night.

If you’re looking to entertain in a common dining room, kitchen area, or TV lounge, make sure you get that reservation in early with your concierge or property manager.  There’s nothing less fun than having to move an already-confirmed shindig because of a prior reservation.

Extra equipment means extra options

Remember that while your condo’s party room, TV room, yoga studio, or pool may have only certain equipment available, that doesn’t necessarily limit what you can do with the space.  It’s easy to bring a Playstation up to that TV room, expand your party room’s collection of 25 glasses with rentals or cheap buys if you’d really love to host 40, or pop your home steamer up into the dining room kitchen if you’d really love to do dim sum.

Remember that what your condo common areas have on offer in terms of stuff is only the base you work from.  You can rent, buy, or borrow anything you need to have the event you’d like, as long as it doesn’t damage the room or make the kind of mess that’ll have your property manager talking to you about your party room deposit.

Think outside of the box

Frequently, the most fun events are the ones that do the most with what you have.  Put on your party glasses (no, not the alcoholic kind) and look at your common spaces as canvases, with potential.  What event would they be suited to?  What kind of party fits here?  And does that sound like fun to you?

If you design the event to fit the space, you’ll not only have fewer logistical issues, but find yourself in the middle of some surprisingly inventive parties—the kind they’ll still be talking about when you start planning for next year.

Best of luck!

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