Real Estate Staging / Home Staging Blog


HOLIDAY DECORATING: Should home sellers GRINch or BARE it?

 Back in the fall I blogged on about whether or not it was wise to decorate for Halloween... and while at that time many people gave varied opinions, I stated that I thought it best not to.

SO... what about Christmas? Should a home seller decorate their house during Christmas Season? My answer is a definite and resounding... CONDITIONAL YES.

Decorating a house for sale during the Christmas Season is a little different then decorating for the Halloween Season.

While the Christmas selling market is MUCH slower, and the Holiday decorations are not as "creepy" and offensive looking... Decorations still can be distractions.

So if a home is on the market and if a seller chooses to decorate (inside and/or outside) during Christmas, my advice is to tastefully tone-it-down... way down in some cases. December real estate sellers are "selling" their house... not Christmas.

For one selling season I recommend leaving the elaborately beautiful displays of Christmas in the windows of department stores.


Comment balloon 20 commentsCraig Schiller • November 29 2006 08:45AM


That is so funny! Many homes go to unnecessary extremes when decorating for the holidays. All tackiness aside what about the over use of electricity.

I really hate those inflatable lawn ornaments that are becoming popular or all holidays. My neighbor just put one up of the Grinch and his dog, they are still trying to convince me that I like it. Fat chance!

Keep all decorations simple, tasteful and always respect our environment. Use LED lights and timers. 

Posted by Lucie Quigley (HOLT modern Home Staging) almost 14 years ago

I also tell clients to scale things down.  When homeowners have children this can be difficult.  I tell them to go for simple and understated.  I do not advise clients to post photos on MLS that have visible Holiday decorations.  It is really sad to see a beautifully decorated Christmas tree on MLS in July.  I also tell clients to consider the neighborhood.  I am staging a home for clients that live in a predominantly Hasidic neighborhood - I advised them not to decorate for Christmas at all. (They don't have children and were thinking along the same lines.)

Posted by Maureen Maureen almost 14 years ago

i would think some classy lights with no santa/reindeer/manger/ect would be a nice touch


Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) almost 14 years ago

So Craig,

Just where is the "For Sale" sign? LOL.

Very funny picture. Betcha this wins the neighborhood decorating contest.

And, yes, I hate those plastic blow up items. So tacky, very tacky. We have a few of those in our sub-division. Guess just because it's an expensive area doesn't grant owners taste.

Posted by Eileen Landau, ABR, CRS, e-PRO (BAIRD & WARNER, NAPERVILLE) almost 14 years ago
Hi Craig, I listed a house 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and she already had 5 Christmas trees in her house! The house only has 1500 sq ft. Needless to say it's a little crowded. At least they didn't decorate the outside.
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) almost 14 years ago
we also recommend a low-key decorating season! if for nothing else than that the buyers who do look during the holidays, need to know they can take occupancy pretty quickly...and if they think the seller will need a week to undecorate before packing, they will walk right on down the street.
Posted by Leigh Brown, CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC (Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive) almost 14 years ago
I had a client who brought everything out and then had to take it all down three weeks later.  I guess it just depends on each situation.
Posted by Lee's Summit Real Estate:: :: Paul Korodaj almost 14 years ago
I love the photo!   And the advice - I'm going to link you to my other blog where I do periodic tips.
Posted by Linda Davis (RE/MAX Home Team) almost 14 years ago
We must also remember and be respectful of the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas this time of the year... or Hannukah, etc.
Posted by Judy Heinrich (Judy Heinrich Home Staging) almost 14 years ago
That picture reminds me of a similarly decorated house, but it included blaring hill billy music.
Posted by David Spencer, Show Me real estate in Kansas City (Keller Williams Northland) almost 14 years ago

I was just wondering about this for a home I have listed that is already a bit barren.  He travels all the time so it looks clean and neat but almost lonely.  So I wondered if a few nice pines and some white lights, perhaps some red floral arrangement might warm it up a bit.  As it cools here (Chicagoland) .... well not until tomorrow I guess .... I think making the inside seem a bit more welcoming by adding some holiday decor might help. 

As those lawn ornaments go up my kids keep begging me to buy a gigantic santa globe....yikes and like no way!  I just moved there.  Drove by my old house (moved 2 months ago) and see that the new homeowner has installed a Snowman that competes in height with the 2nd story!  Hopefully a good wind will kick up and send him flying!

Posted by Mary Blanchard, Broker, CRS, E-PRO, ABR, ASP (Mary Blanchard, Broker) almost 14 years ago


If you go LIGHT on the decorations... I don't think it will hurt. As the realtor you have a better sense as to who will most likly buy in the market that the home sits.

Warming it up a BIT... and creating a winter wonderland are 2 different things. Warmth is ok.

But what ever you do consider the fact that if the home feels lonely... you might also/instead put in some greanery. There are some WONDERFUL silks that add the same kind of warmth that Christmas greens bring to an empty/lonely space.

Also, would a few Christmas decorations only make a lonely space feel MORE lonely because of the minimal use of decorations... giving off a kind of a Charlie Brown Christmas feeling?

Sorry I could not give you a definate yes or no... but those are the questions I would run thru my head as I sized up the situation/solution.

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago

Christmas decorating when done correctly always makes the house warm and inviting. Don't you just love how comforting your home (after all the prep) work feels. I think evoking that Charles Dickens feeling would grab a buyers heart the minute they walk in the door. NOW ABOUT THOSE INFLATABLES...NOT!!

Phyllis Pafumi

Posted by Phyllis Pafumi, ReStyled to Sell Staging Homes NJ (ReStyled to Sell Home Staging New Jersey) almost 14 years ago
This is a timely post.  I will be staging a vacant refurbished 1920's bungalo next week and the owner wants it decorated for Christmas.  I told her that I didn't think it would be worth the effort to put up a tree but that I would tastefully use greenery and lights to enhance the home's ambience.
Posted by Judy Kincaid almost 14 years ago
I was so glad to read your "YES" - and I totally agree with you but in MODERATION - some people take that holiday spirit way overboard.
Posted by Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate (Majestic Properties) almost 14 years ago
I have had to talk to my sellers about the decorations, mainly indoor decorations that take up every square inch and make the home look cluttered and smaller, I feel like such a meany.
Posted by Teresa Boardman (Boardman Realty) almost 14 years ago

Christmas lights, garland, mulling spice, and a beautiful tree will help sell a home. 

Pretty much anything more (besides a door wreath) can hurt.

With lights you can apply the same Switzerland rule, neutral is good.  White lights only please!

Posted by Jessica Hughes (Ambiance Staging) almost 14 years ago

Great pic Craig.  When were you at my house???  You should have stopped in. 

I agree that you should "tastefully tone-it down" when it comes to any holiday decorations. We need to keep educating and reminding the home seller that they are selling the house and not the stuff in it.

Posted by Janice Sutton, Home Stager - Temecula Murrieta (1st Stage Property Transformations ) almost 14 years ago

I say you are ok if you do not go overboard.

Remember, you just have to get it all picked up early if your house sales and closing is between Christmas and New Years.

Posted by Susan Trombley, Broker/Realtor, Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Youngs (Trombley Real Estate) almost 14 years ago

Lucy: I hear ya when you talk about the over use of electricity. Just becasue one CAN spend the $ do they NEED to?

Maureen: GREAT point about photo... decorations are a NO NO. Yes kids can be tough  ONE thing a seller can also do is decorate a few days away from Christmas... then remove any "extras" right after.

Tom: As I like to say... tastefully UNDERstated is the way.

Eileen: ITS A MIRACLE! Asl and your sign shall appear!

Bryant: ONLY 5 trees!!! God what a Scrooge. I would charge 7% to take that listing.

Leigh: Decorations are just another one of those "little" ways that the seller can (and do) shoot themselves in the foot.

Paul: BUT they sold... isn't THAT what they ultimately wanted?

Linda: You are a wise wise woman. Your wisdom is ONLY surpassed by your beauty.

Judy: YES... other's faith expressions in the hood should be considered when marketing a home.

David: Are you implying that this house is a bit uncultured? I think it is BEAUTIFUL :) In fact I think they should swap all this seasonal elements out with pieces that would work. Bunnies for Easter... Trees for Arbor day.... Stars for the 4th.... etc.

Phyllis: Who needs a lawn inflatable filled with COLD air, when you can have a realtor/seller filled with HOT air... and a lot of it?

Angela: Less is more... or less is sad. Knowing how much is seen as less and then know just what to do with less is where a professional can help.

Judy: See Anfela above.

Ines:  SOME people... more and more are spending WAY too much time and money on that CRAP.

Theresa: You're NOT a "meany." I believe what you are is technically called a "Scrooge." THANKS for wrecking Xmas!

Jessica: Those Swiss... you just gotta love'em!

Janice: NO this is your NEIGHBORS house... you better go out and get another 100 strings and add them to yours if you are gonna out do them this year.

Susan: People MIGHT discover that Christmas still comes... even with out the crap. Remember that was the message of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas!"

Posted by Craig Schiller almost 14 years ago