Home staging for the holidays can be a challenge for even the most experienced home stager.
Especially when your client is totally in love with ALL things Christmas!
I’m presenting this dilemma to gather ideas from a number of home stagers. These will help you on your next home staging projects over the holidays.
It might unfold something like this…
You get a call from a home seller who is desperate to put their home on the market right away. If you follow the business model I teach in the Staging Diva Home Staging Business Training Program, you’ll discuss how you can help them by phone.
Then you’ll book a paid home staging consultation. Staging Diva Grads don’t do free estimates!
Arriving at your client’s home, you’re greeted by a giant Santa, snowmen, and snow globes scattered all over their lawn.
There are lights strung from every available branch and eave. Wreaths hang from every door and the windows are covered in snow flake decals.
Inside, it looks like Christmas exploded.
Tinsel hangs from every surface. Artificial boughs tied with red ribbons lead the way upstairs. Pine cones cover window sills. Christmas table cloths, dish towels, the light of flickering snow man candles.
And of course, the air is filled with Christmas tunes.
Holiday spirit is great and if you’re not trying to sell a home, go nuts with all the trappings of Christmas!
However, if the home is going on the real estate market, all of these decorations begin to look a lot like clutter. Especially if the potential buyer doesn’t share the seller’s enthusiasm for the holiday.
How Do You Deal with Home Staging for the Holidays?
When you find yourself in a home like this, what is your first reaction? What do you do when you’re staging a home that will be listed over the holidays?
I’ll share my suggestions in an upcoming post, but first I’d like to hear what you would do. Please leave your opinion as a comment below.
jill monczunski says
What would I do in a case like this? Run!!!!!!!!!!!! Only kidding … I think 🙁
I would begin by very delicately talking to my clients about maybe packing up all the “little” stuff to de-clutter the overall holiday look. I’m guessing this could be very sensitive. If I got a lot of resistance (thankfully, I haven’t had to deal with this), I would contact the listing agent to communicate my thoughts about perhaps not listing until after the first of the year. I would definitely recommend deflating the blow-ups in the yard – waaaayyy too distracting for selling your home. Less is more. Christmas decor can be very tastefully done, but let’s get real. YOUR HOME IS ON THE MARKET. Another consideration, of course, is that some people will be offended by “CHRISTmas” decorations. What if the potential buyers have different religious beliefs – or none at all! I’m sure potential buyers looking at homes during the Christmas season expect to see some decorations, but sellers need to understand not to overwhelm buyers. Afterall, buyers are looking to BUY THE HOME – NOT THE DECORATIONS! Homes can look the most beautiful during the holidays when decorated tastefully and minimally. I’m anxious to hear other comments on this post. By the way, MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone!
Staging To Sell
Home Staging for Sellers . Interior Design & reDesign
Jill R. Monczunski
Antonia Banewicz says
What a great question! Yikes!
I think (as stated above) that I would strongly encourage the home owner and the agent to postpone showing the house until after the holidays are over. The “Christmas theme” and any religious theme might offend several buyers and I (particularly where I live in NJ) would strongly suggest that the house not be shown in this condition. When a house looks like Santa threw up in there, nobody will be able to see the bones of the house, the purpose of the rooms, etc. anyway. As Jill states, at the very least the decorations would need to be minimal and extremely tasteful. However, for staging purposes, most likely I would have to say that my staging services would be better suited to enhancing the home after the holidays. However since I do offer holiday decorating as part of my services, I would tactfully see if the homeowners could use my help in creating a more tasteful holiday decor. I would then offer my staging services immediately after the holidays are over. I don’t know how you could even stage a home that is drenched in the Christmas theme! Here’s to keeping it simple…
Happy Holidays to one and all!
Donna McBrier says
I’m about to start a new staging project; one of the first things out of my mouth during the intial phone call was ” how do you plan to decorate for the holidays?”
Thankfully the homeowner said she could keep it simple and so we went with a simple tree- tastefully decorated, 2 live potted 4′ trees on her really nice front porch (an added “bonus” area) and white lights on those trees and the small (about 4′ evergreen on the right side of the attached garage) to pull it together.
And most important of all I’ve asked that everything be taken down and packed away for the move right after New Years at the VERY latest!
If the homeseller is a Christmas decorating maniac, I would suggest ” for every hoilday decoration you add to your home, that’s one more reason to keep a prospective buyer from buying your home because they can’t really see your home through the distractions, lovely as they may be”
Good luck to all of us!
linda thompson says
Wow. This can be a delicate situation. People who go all out decorating for Christmas usually find it a great source of fun and joy, ie. my daughter, who tries to emulate Chevy Chase and Tim Allen(Family Christmas Vacation and Home Improvement.) Now that she’s married and has a house of her own to decorate my husband and I are scaling down the decorating.
I would agree with the other comments that I’d encourage the sellers to wait until after the holidays to put their home on the market. If that was not possible however, I’d use this opportunity to suggest that before they deck the halls they declutter the walls, and while they’re at it the floors, bookcases, closets, etc. Many people put their seasonal decorations up and simply add them to their regular decor making the whole place more cluttered.I would make sure that no decorations were blocking the windows or traffic paterns inside or outside the house.
Personally, I don’t like the blow up lawn items, but the families children might be attached to them and since Christmas comes only once a year and childhood is so fleeting I might relent and let them stay, but make sure the landscaping and other outdoor effects, like paint, repairs are done.
Heather Cook says
We have addressed the issue of overdecorating during the holidays several times – and because its not just xmas time when people decorate (we dealt with one client who LOVED Valentine’s day and had metallic hearts everywhere when we visited last February) its all about communicating the K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple Staging) system. If we are called in before decorating season begins then we always tactfully ask what the plan is for the decorations and stress that keeping things to a minimum is best when trying to sell during the holidays. We even go so far as to say one decoration elemet per space i.e ONLY the xmas tree in the family room (mantle and walls modern and simple) or ONLY a simple table centerpiece (glass hurricane filled with co-ordinating ornaments and a candle). That way those elements really shine and add great touches which still allow buyers to admire the space not the stuff. We do encourage our sellers to enjoy the holiday season outside by doing nice dressy urns with lights and berries and wreaths with rich colours and textures.
If the family does not want to deviate from their decorating style of having xmas decorations everywhere then we recommend putting off listing the home and staging once all the decorations are packed away after xmas.
I would try to turn it down a notch and just use candles, white lights, and possibly welcome candles in the windows. Some nice fresh greens, magnolias, and berries. This would be more specific for a “holiday” rather than a christmas to appeal to a wider variety of buyers. I would play up the mantle if there was one and add colorful luxurious pillows and throws to the couch or chairs. I believe the inflatables would pose a “distraction” which is not what a seller would want. Any photos taken that display “holiday” decor also date the listing and let potential buyers know just how long the home has been on the market! I’ve seen some beautiful million dollar homes that are decorated over the top for the holidays. I felt like the photos on line were a waste because you could not appreciate the details of the home because you were so distracted by the numerous decorations.
Kathleen Lordbock says
As both the listing agent and the home stager, I send out to all my clients instructions on Holiday decor before the season. I would not take a property out for the season and not show it -the goal is to sell it!!! My listings need to be ready to be shown on a 2 hour notice with very few exceptions. A smaller tree with white lights, fresh greenery, presents with coordinating colors, some outdoor white lights and topiary at the entrance, a wreath on the door – all acceptable. Tasteful and minimal but not over the top. They comply because they know listing with me is an adventure , we go over everything from the start. I only take motivated clients and my listings sell.
Yes, staging does set listings apart from the competition.
Nicolet Groen says
In the Netherlands, Christmas season started today and we have the same problem overhere but the decoration is not so overwhelming as in the US. Never the less I always advise my clients to keep the decoration simple with only the tree and some pieces on the table.
When a home is listed in this period I always avoid any form of decoration in the pictures. (I’m also a professional interior photographer) Simply because you loose every form of negotiation when the house is still on the market in July with the remains of Christmas in the photo’s. In my blog http://www.foutehuizen.nl I posted last seasons decorations which I spotted in November…. A complete no-go for the homes that I stage en take pictures of!
(I’m sorry for possible mistakes I made, English is not my native language!)
Vicki Olson says
This is a touchy subject, but one that can be tactfully addressed with the sellers. I would comment on how beautiful it looked, but suggest how it would be distracting to a potential buyer to really see the bones of the home and difficult for someone to imagine their own things arranged in the space. I would offer ways to keep some of the Christmas spirit on a very simple level and suggest placement of a few items to compliment the decor.
And never take listing pictures at this time of year, as it dates how long the home has been on the market and turns off potential clients that don’t do Christmas.
Lynn O'Brien says
That can be a toughie; you don’t want them to feel like you’re insulting their decorating style or religious preferences. My talk with them would start out with how I appreciate the amount of time it must have taken to put all the decorations out, and how I would hate to see any of them broken or destroyed during a home tour or showing. I would suggest to them to pare it down to a few neutral pieces (globe ornaments in a bowl, pine boughs and decorations on a mantel, a few candles, ect.) I would also tell them that while their outdoor decor is wonderfully festive, it might detract a bit from the curb appeal of the home. A few white lights hung on the eaves, with some nice winter greenery flanking the front door would be a nice, neutral and festive alternative.
Debra Gould says
Great tips Lynn, thanks so much for commenting!
I only use one room usually a family room. I put up a tree with lights and a few decorations. Around the room I put a few nondenominational decorations.