Your Stress-Free Holiday Hosting Guide … With an HOA

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Planning a party for the holidays is stressful enough without the added concern of HOA guidelines and policies to add to the mix. Before you throw in the towel, here’s our tips to stress free hosting for the holidays.


Does your HOA have guidelines on when you can put up holiday decorations and when you need to have them down by? Are there policies on lawn ornaments, inflatables, or lights? As a community member, keeping safety in mind and decorating to the enjoyment of all residents is part of the responsibility. Knowing these regulations will also prevent any Holiday mishaps from happening and prevent violations from the HOA.

For more HOA friendly tips, check out our article on Holiday decorating here.


When guests start arriving, cars will start adding up in front of your house. Is street parking an option in your community or is there a designated visitor lot for non-residents? Talk to your neighbors ahead of time so traffic doesn’t come as a surprise. Some communities make special exceptions for Holiday parking, make sure to ask your main office about any details.


Keep in mind that most communities have a noise ordinance one made by the HOA and another by the city. Nothing disrupts a party like someone knocking on your door with a noise complaint but luckily most HOA’s have a guideline on what types of noise and – how much – is acceptable.


Does your community have a Clubhouse that would fit your guests more appropriately? It may be easier to coordinate, provide more room for guests and parking, and a buffer for noise between your party and your community. Each community will have their own set of Clubhouse policies so make sure you take a look at those in advance and keep an eye on how long you have the room booked for. Always book for a little longer than expected for adequate clean up time.

Pool & Outdoor Amenities

Not all Holiday parties have to be Winter Wonderland themed. If you’re planning on a tropical theme and it includes pool access, coordinate with your main office to let them know how many guests will be attending to make sure there won’t be any code violations. Each community has their own pool area max capacity and food and drink policies so make sure you’re well aware of those before planning. It’s always good to give your community a head’s up on any parties to ensure everything goes more smoothly.

Keep the Community Aware

Whatever party you are planning to have, regardless of theme, keep your community board in the know. This can make it easier for you to plan and can even help you organize your resources better. They may have specified parking areas you weren’t aware of or ways to reserve certain amenities to guarantee they will be available for your party.

How to Spend a Rainy Memorial Day Weekend

edceee-78881-unsplashEven though the technical first day of summer is still about a month away, many consider Memorial Day Weekend to be the official kickoff to the summer season.  Families all over the state often take a day trip to the beach or have a backyard barbecue which are great options.  However, this year the Sunshine State is not forecasted to be so sunny.  What to do when rain comes to town for the long weekend?

Luckily, there is no shortage of fun, indoor activities for the family.  Here are some ideas on what to do this weekend if there is a washout for the local parade or barbecue.

  • Head to the theater. Movies are always a great rainy day activity and many anticipated movies usually come out over Memorial Day Weekend.  Browse for showtimes and purchase tickets online in advance to make sure you have a spot during the busy weekend.  Also consider checking out a local theater for any plays or other performances going on!  This can be a unique twist on the theater.
  • Learn something. Visit your local museum or science center.  It can be a great opportunity to learn about science, history, art, culture, and more.  If you have younger children, many museums have interactive sections geared towards the little ones so they can learn while having fun.
  • Have a friendly competition. Turn off the electronics and break out the board games or cards!  This is great entertainment for large groups if you need to move the party inside.
  • Get sporty. For some activity, head to the local bowling alley, indoor golf, or arcade.  Many areas are adding indoor sports complexes with a variety of activities so check Google to see if any of these are in your area.
  • Get your nerd on! It’s cool to embrace your inner nerd and what better place to do it than Megacon?  If you can make it to Orlando for Memorial Day weekend you can attend this event which is an homage to all things pop culture.  Enjoy the events and the guests that participate in often impressive cosplay.
  • Remember the reason for the holiday. If a sunny day is in the cards on Monday, many places will sponsor parades and other tributes.  You can also visit your local memorial garden and place decorations and wreaths for fallen veterans.  If it’s a rainy day, consider making some crafts with the kids to decorate with or honor those who sacrificed by writing a letter to someone currently serving.

There are definitely lots of options when it comes to finding something fun to do over the three-day weekend.  Whatever you decide to do, enjoy time with family and friends and be safe!

Fourth of July Safety

Can you believe that it’s Fourth of July weekend already?  Many people will be getting togetfireworks-dc-56a236c45f9b58b7d0c7f731her to enjoy celebrations and valuable time with friends and family over the long weekend.  There will be much fun to be had in communities and towns all over the country.  We hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and also a safe one.  Below are some safety tips to keep in mind to make sure your holiday is fun and without any incidents.


  • It is best to view fireworks at a public event
    since these shows are managed by professionals.
  • If you do decide to have fireworks at home, make sure they are never given to children, that there is water nearby, that fireworks are never pointed towards any person or animal, and that you never try to relight a dud firework.
  • Barbecue grills should always be supervised while in use.
  • Never grill indoors.
  • Use tools with long handles that are specially made for the grill.
  • If you are heading to the beach or pool, make sure you check weather conditions.
  • Do not swim while under the influence of alcohol and do not swim alone.
  • Ensure that children do not dive headfirst into shallow water or water of unknown depth.
  • Beware of rip currents if visiting the ocean.
  • Wear sunscreen when outdoors to protect your skin.
  • Stay hydrated and be sure to drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty at the time.
  • Pets can become frightened with the sounds of fireworks.  Make sure your pets are safe and secure inside.

We hope that these tips help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy holiday.  We wish you lots of fun and time with loved ones!

Community Spotlight: Stonecrest & Converged Services Inc.

Stonecrest is an active adult community with 2200 homes nestled among the rolling hills of Summerfield, Florida in Marion County.

Chad Peck, the Property Manager along with the Board of Directors, have been evaluating the security and technology of the community for months. Their goal was to develop a safe and technologically connected way to satisfy the telecommunications needs and wants of ConvergedServices158x80this ever changing community.

The first challenge was to develop a more effective way of controlling access to parking facilities. The second challenge was to combine the various technology programs that are currently being utilized into one cohesive package that will grow with the community.

Challenge One:

Replacing the antiquated, unreliable barcode readers that control access to the parking facilities.

This system is complicated because it was maintained by two (2) separate companies. One controlled the barcodes and insertion readers and the other the visitor access system. Not only was it time consuming, but the two systems were not integrated.

Challenge Two:

This one was especially tricky because it involved the technology that is interwoven throughout the community. The Stonecrest staff had six (6) different systems that needed to be updated when new information was received. They were using TOPS management software for the official database, an Access Database for the unofficial database, Emerge for the barcodes, At Home Net for the Website, a visitor access system that was implemented by our Security Company and Office Tracker for the calendar software.

While attending the Leland Annual Team Building Meeting Leo Delgado, President of Converged Services and John Wattick, Vice President met with Chad and Diane Braswell who outlined the challenges Stonecrest was having with their gate system as well as all the different databases and programs the staff had to access just to change unit owner information. Converged Services discussed their Lifestyle Management Software platform Vertilinc Live, with Chad and Diane and scheduled an on-line demonstration.

Vertilinc Live offers managers and unit owners a multi-functional platform to effectively manage large scale communities; from seamless communications, access control integration to over 70 other modules that make managing and living easier.

After experiencing the software through the on-line demonstration, Chad found that Vertilinc Live did more than just gate access. The system basically did everything that the association needed it to do.

Updating numerous systems created room for error in the transfer of information. Data was also inputted in different ways to each system. Sometimes the address were spelled out; sometimes they were abbreviated. This made it hard to match information in the different systems.  With Vertilinc Live Stonecrest is able to update one system, eliminate several steps, and save time when entering data.

Once Vertilinc Live completes a redesign of Stonecrest’s website, they will reduce the phone calls to the gates because residents will be able to enter in the information online to allow their visitors into the community. That will be the final step to eliminate the multiple databases. Until then Stonecrest is still maintaining several; however, even in these early stages of implementation the Vertilinc Live software has already eliminated several of Stonecrest’s systems.

True to CSI’s customer service standards they have been with Stonecrest POA every step of the way, any concerns that have arisen or any changes necessary they have been able to complete. Chad who is in regular contact with CSI says, “Any questions I have are answered in an extremely timely manner. CSI with their Vertilinc Software has been very accommodating and willing to help. We will not be launching our new website until January but from what I can see it is going to make the residents and staff’s lives in Stonecrest much easier”.

The Ten Best Holiday Traditions

We have scoured the internet to find the cutest holiday traditions for your family to enjoy and below are our top ten. Enjoy!

Make Elf

After the kids are in bed on Christmas Eve, leave a trail of elf prints from the fireplace or front door through the living room. To make them, cut two sponges in the shape of small shoeprints, then dip them in a plate of “elf dust” (flour, baby powder, carpet deodorizer). The prints always stop at the tray of cookies and milk left out for Santa and sometimes the elves are a bit naughty and play with the presents. Children love to figure out exactly what path the elves took.

Surprise Your Neighbors With Treats

To bring your community closer try doing a 12 days of secret surprises for a neighbor, bringing the appropriate number of goodies — one on the first day to twelve on the twelfth day. You can keep your identity a secret or choose to reveal yourself on any of the 12 days.

Start an Ornament Collection

Every Christmas buy an ornament to celebrate something that happened that year. For example, buy a wedding ornament noting the year you got married or for the year you graduated from college get one with a diploma. Your family will look forward to unwrapping the ornaments every year and remembering why you bought them.

Camp Out Under the Tree

Every Christmas have the family spend one night sleeping on the living room floor under the lighted tree, listening to holiday music.  Talking about Christmas and the previous year will be a tradition your family looks forward to each year.

Help the Needy

Teaching our children the true spirit of the Holidays and that there is more to life than getting a Sony Play Station is a great tradition. Consider limiting gifts to one per child and one gift to share with someone in need. Another option is to donate your time to a charity or soup kitchen.

Give a Christmas Eve Gift

Every Christmas Eve, when the doorbell rings, the children run to answer it. They know Santa has left them their first present. Inside a brightly colored sack is a pair of new pajamas for everyone. This idea serves two purposes. It’s easier to get the kids ready for bed because they can’t wait to wear their new pajamas! And we all look great in the pictures the next morning.

Relive the Year’s Memories

On New Year’s Eve have the family stay home and enjoy a buffet of hors d’oeuvres and sparkling cider. Then watch a video of your family’s past year. Each year start a new videotape.

See the Lights

In the middle of December go on a family sight-seeing trip to look at all the Christmas lights and decorations. It’s a wonderful thing, even for a six-month-old. What baby doesn’t like to look at lights? On the way home, vote on the best decorated house.

Put Out Snacks for Santa

Leave out cookies and milk for Santa, and a spoonful of sugar (or carrots) for the reindeer. Try making a big deal about this, counting the cookies, pointing out how full the glass of milk is, etc. While the kids sleep you can enjoy sipping the milk and eating the cookies, leaving a few with bite marks. The next day the kids will be amazed by the evidence that Santa was in your house.

Learn About Other Cultures

Take the family to the library and have each person pick out a story about Christmas, or holidays in other cultures. Then on Christmas Eve everyone reads (or has an adult read) their story, finishing up with the holiday your family celebrates.

Meet the Team: Kim Twiss

AlthouKim Twissgh Kim Twiss was born in Virginia she considers the cotton state her home. Growing up in Alabama Kim was an avid sports fan and played softball, ran track, and was on the cheerleading squad at her high school. After graduating from Glencoe High in 1978 she applied to Auburn University where she was accepted and completed a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications. To fund her education Kim worked as a lifeguard throughout college.  Going to work immediately upon graduation she used her degree to become a successful reporter in various distribution channels including: radio, television, and newspaper print. In 1985 Kim gave birth to her daughter Kalli who is now 28 and graduated from the University of Florida with a Master’s degree in food and economic resource. To be close to family, Kim and Kalli moved to Citrus County in the early 90s and Kim went to work with her parents who owned Century21 property Management Company. Here she started managing rental properties and earned her CAM license in 1994. In May of 2008 Kim joined the Leland Management team in the Ocala Division.

When she is not in the office Kim is either attending a college football game or taking photos. A talented and accomplished amateur photographer Kim has photographed countless events and even shot the photographs used to decorate Leland’s Citrus office. She is also a huge animal lover and works closely with the local Humane Society to raise awareness and encourage adoptions in the area.

We are proud to have Kim as a valued member of our team and hope you enjoyed this installment of our Meet the Team series.

Trick-or-Treating Safety

If you are planning to make your way around your HOA or Condominium this Halloween make sure to follow some simple safety tips.

 Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.children-trick-or-treating-
 Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
 Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
Examine all treats for choking hazards or tampering before consuming. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
 Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and help others see you.
 Always test make-up in a small area first and remove it before you go to bed.
 Look both ways before crossing the street. Use crosswalks when possible.
 Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
 Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic.
Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
 Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats made by strangers.
Enter homes only if with a trusted adult. Only visit well-lit houses. Never accept rides from strangers.
Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Halloween Decorating in HOAs

With October here and Halloween rapidly approaching, it is officially the season for Halloween_House_in_Hampden.homeowners to decorate their yards and their front stoops with pumpkins, ghost cut-outs, scarecrows, and other festive décor. What some homeowners may not be aware of is that, in many HOA-governed communities, there are set policies and rules that dictate which Halloween decorations are and are not allowed. In fact, many HOA board members may not be fully aware of how the governing documents address this spooky holiday.

The first important thing to note is that HOA rules do not restrict Halloween decorations simply out of the desire to stamp out fun, or to prohibit homeowners from having a good time. In most communities, some Halloween decorating is permitted, so long as it is within reason. The HOA governing documents likely just prohibit decorations that could be generally irksome and intrusive to other community members, particularly immediate neighbors.

As such, the best advice we can give to homeowners and HOA board members alike is just to know what the governing documents say. In particular, be aware of some of the following items; while every HOA has its own unique rules, these are common entries in governing documents:

  • In most communities, the biggest offenders are those Halloween decorations that make noise. This can obviously cause a disturbance among neighbors, so check the rules before putting out any décor that makes shrieking or wailing noises, or even emits music.
  • Lights can also prove disruptive, though in most communities, they are acceptable if they are timed to shut off at a reasonable hour.
  • So-called “yard art” is sometimes forbidden as well, especially shrines and figurines of popular characters.
  • Any decorations that have religious implications might be frowned upon by the HOA, so it is smart to ensure that you’re not buying any Halloween décor that might allude to, say, Wicca.

HOA homeowners are encouraged to consult with a board member before putting up any decorations—and board members, in turn, are encouraged to really know what the guidelines say!

by: Josh Hurst

Meet The Team: Jen Miller

Jen Miller was born in Ft. Lauderdale, FL on March 15, 1979. When she was 10 years old,FullSizeRender she moved from Ft. Lauderdale to St. Augustine, FL where she went to middle school & high school. At age 19, she began college at the University of North Florida as a history major.

She has now lived in Jacksonville for 16 years and enjoys spending time with her boyfriend and two dachshunds, Peanut & Pumpkin. Jen likes being outdoors and loves animals. In her free time, she works out, travels, goes camping and spends lots of time at the beach. In the past year, she has traveled to Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Her goal is to one day retire and live in the mountains in Pennsylvania. Jen has worked for Leland for seven years and we are happy to feature her in this week’s issue of our Meet the Team series.