To Decorate or Not to Decorate a Listing over the Holidays….

By Susan Herst
Bring some holiday cheer to your listings this season…
Nobody wants to be the Grinch who stole Christmas but when you’re trying to sell a home, too much holiday spirit can turnoff some potential buyers. Buyers are there to look at the house and all of its wonderful features, not squint to see the roof over the nine reindeer poised upon it.

Some real estate and staging professionals say home owners can still add a few decorations for the holidays when selling a home and buyers will appreciate it too. Holiday decor can lighten moods and warm up interiors, so you don’t have to swear it off completely because you’re afraid of offending those who don’t celebrate, they say.

Opening the front door and see lights and the Christmas music playing with some cinnamon smells, all of this says “welcome, come in and stay awhile.”

6 Principles to Holiday Staging

The key to holiday decorating is to keep the decor high quality and color-coordinated.  So if you plan on staging a home for the holidays, here are some important things to keep in mind.

1. Don’t overdo the holiday cheer.

When Santas start to outnumber the rooms in the house, you may want to start being more selective in what you display.  “If it is ‘cute,’ it stays packed,” says Joanne O’Donnell.

The same staging principles apply during the holidays: Don’t overwhelm the space with clutter.  “For every holiday decor item put on display, temporarily pack something you keep out all the time. That way you can avoid over-decorating,” says a staging pro.

Instead of a large Christmas tree dominating the living room, you might opt to have a smaller tree display on a table top — particularly if the space is small. Your decor doesn’t have to be super-sized or scattered everywhere: Mix in small centerpieces on dining room tables, bookcases, bathroom sinks or end tables — simple touches such as pine cones or ornaments in a glass bowl.

You also might want to have home owners rethink hanging those Christmas stockings from the fireplace too, since 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 stockings are blocking the view, then buyers will not appreciate this focal point for what it is.

2. Add splashes of holiday colors.

How about some holiday red? Psychology research on color responses has shown that warm colors, such as red, can increase excitement and energy in those viewing it. Pops of seasonal colors — such as red or green — add festive cheer to a home too and can be as simple as just adding a red everyday throw to the sofa or adding poinsettias throughout the home.

It doesn’t have to be bold holiday statements: Add greenery to fireplace mantels or as a base for the dining room table centerpieces. Or another holiday favorite: Bows and ribbons can add splashes of color — tie them around candles, wreaths, and basket handles throughout the house for extra pops of color. Don’t underestimate the power of neutral palettes too in your holiday decor, such as silvers and classic whites.

Try repeating colors from room to room and using similar ribbons, ornaments, patterns or decorative items that can add to the consistency of your holiday look. But when bringing in holiday colors, be careful not to clash with your home’s current color scheme. For example, if turquoise is the room’s dominant color, you might want to hold off on adding bold holiday reds; try silver instead.

3. Stage for the senses.

Christmas music — mixed with holiday scents — has been shown to boost people’s attitudes in retail stores and increase their likelihood of wanting to visit them.  For scents, pros recommend adding a pot of mulling spices or cider.  But if you’re going to include a holiday scent just don’t forget the music.

4. Keep the tree simple, yet elegant.

The Christmas tree will likely be your biggest decor piece so it needs to make a statement. Use a string of 100 lights for every foot of tree. In other words, if you have a 7-foot tree, use at least 700 lights (she prefers the white twinkling ones).

5. Give a holiday impression from the curb.

You needn’t be able to view your outdoor holiday lights from space, Clark Griswold, to show your holiday spirit. Twinkling clear, white lights (preferably non-blinking) tend to be the favorite among staging and real estate professionals for classy holiday curb appeal that adds a glow to your listings at night.

6. Remove decor after the holidays.

Christmas in July isn’t for everyone, so in general, wait to decorate for the holidays until after Thanksgiving and be sure your home owners remove all holiday decor promptly by New Year’s.

With gratitude from Melissa Dittmann Tracey

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