Holiday Decorating Advice For Sellers On The Market

I am often asked how many, if any, holiday decorations should be put on display when a home is on the market. The holidays, regardless of religion, are a sentimental time filled with tradition and can also be a stressful time of year. As if selling a home wasn’t stressful enough! Below are a few points to consider when getting out those treasured holiday items if your home is also on the market:

  •  A general rule when staging a home is to remove religious or personal items such as personal photos or other décor items that are too taste specific or might display personal information such as the family last name, first names, birthdates, etc.  
  •       A second, general rule of staging is to make a house feel comfortable and welcoming. What makes a home feel more welcoming than holiday decorations during the holiday season?                                                                                                                                                                    

 Although theses two points can seem conflicting, the answer lies in a combination of both principles.

 If you typically go all out for the holidays, only display one-third to half of what you typically do. If you decorate sparingly, about three-fourths of what you typically display is recommended. If you place a holiday décor item in a room, it is helpful to temporarily remove one that is up all year round.

 Exterior Illumination

Often a source of neighborhood pride, exterior illumination can be simple and ground-based or as intricate as Clark Griswold from “National Lampoons Christmas Vacation”. The winter months are usually less than attractive outdoors and some well-placed and tasteful holiday lights or yard ornaments can go a long way to adding a festive and welcoming touch. Just remember that many potential buyers may either cruise by your home for sale during the day or actually schedule a showing during the day when outdoor lights are more likely to be an unsightly bunch of wires (read: icicle lights) rather than a cheerful display of colorful or white lights. Do your best to make your home show its best during the day and night.

 The Tree

If you have a Christmas trees in your home, make sure that its placement makes sense and doesn't crowd or overwhelm the room. If your tree is larger than 6’, consider removing a piece or two of furniture. If your tree completely overwhelms the space, consider either keeping it boxed up and ready to move to your next house or borrow/purchase a smaller, inexpensive tree.

 Many families proudly display the ornaments that they themselves or their children made through the years. Ornaments are a great way to mark milestones, too, such as “Our first Christmas”, “Baby’s First Christmas”, etc. Check out your tree once you have all adornments in place; if these more personal ornaments are very prominent, consider either placing them in a less prominent place on the tree or keeping them packed up for next year (it's generally best to protect your personal information when your home is on the market).


I have to admit; even I would be hard pressed not to hang the children’s stockings from the mantle if my home was on the market during the holidays. Whatever the season, when you are selling a home you want buyers to notice and appreciate the permanent features of the home and if your fireplace is almost impossible to see because your highly personalized stockings are blocking the view, then buyers will not appreciate this focal point for what it is. Consider instead hanging the stockings on Christmas Eve and removing them Christmas day instead of leaving them in place for every showing.

 Religious Décor Items and The Nativity Scene

As mentioned previously, the holidays are a time to celebrate various religious beliefs and are considered sacred by many. However, once you have put your home on the market, you have opened it up to the public. It is helpful to remember that potential buyers come from different ethnic groups and beliefs and I suggest that you consider keeping highly religious items packed away this year or at least displayed in less prominent areas. Also remember that potential buyers may have children with them when touring your home and small children are especially prone to picking up small items within reach.

 If you are feeling a little cheated this holiday season by not putting all of your beloved holiday treasures around your house, focus on the reason that you placed your home on the market and keeps your eye on that goal. Next year when you are comfortably settled into your new home, you can go all out with the holiday cheer.


1 Comment

  1. Stage I Up 12/16/2011 at 3:28 PM

    Excellent tips for staging a home durng the holidays.

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