Holiday Home Staging
DIY Home Staging Tips
for a faster, more profitable home sale

Christmas ornaments in a glass bowl

Holiday home staging is a fine balancing act for those trying sell their home, yet wanting to celebrate the holiday traditions in their usual fashion.

The holiday season isn’t the best time to market a home, but for those without a choice, it’s helpful to know that any buyers looking at this time of year are serious about buying.

The holiday season can be an emotional time for many people, but if you set the stage with warmth and tasteful holiday decorations, you are sure to stir feelings of seasonal spirit.

Before doing any holiday home staging, you should have decluttered, depersonalized, cleaned, and completed any unfinished projects around the house. Start with a clean slate before you add any holiday decorations to your home decor.

Simplify holiday decorations

Window boxes with greeneryWindow box greenery is simple, yet festive

Home staging is all about neutralizing and paring down, to make your home look larger and more appealing to as many people as possible. Holiday home staging should be about enhancing your home designs, not covering them up.

Filling every nook and cranny of your home with Christmas decorations will only make your home look cluttered, and buyers may miss important details and focal points if they're suffocating under layers of tinsel and plastic greenery.

Now isn’t the time to bring out little Susie’s paper mache manger scene from the second grade, or Christoper’s army of cotton ball snowmen.

Now is a good time to pack up your treasured holiday ornaments, Christmas crafts, and whatever else you don’t need, for your new home. 

It's not necessary to abandon all holiday decorating. Simply limit yourself to a few impersonal, tasteful holiday decorations.

Color schemes for holiday home staging

Holiday decorations from natureDecorate with objects from nature

A good goal is to make your holiday color scheme complement your home interior design. You don't need a big decorating budget to make that happen.

If you’ve already neutralized the color palette in your home in preparation to sell, you have created a good backdrop for any holiday decorations.

If you’re worried about clashing colors, stick to white, gold, or silver color schemes, which seem to complement any home decor.

Or decorate with neutral-colored objects from nature like; pinecones, fir boughs, holly, cinnamon sticks, baskets, glass, driftwood, chestnuts, and seashells.

Find the focal points

Decorating any home interior should always begin with locating the focal point(s) of a room. This applies to holiday home staging, as well.

Hanging mistletoeHang mistletoe from a window or arched doorway. Photo by Southern Living

Highlight these special features with holiday decorations, so that home buyers can’t help but notice them.

Focal point Christmas decorating ideas:

  • Place Christmas trees in the center of a beautiful bay window;
  • Accessorize fireplace mantles with white candles, a fir garland, lanterns, glass canisters filled with Christmas ornaments or objects from nature;
  • Hang mistletoe or a single beautiful ornament in an arched doorway;
  • A candelabra in a windowsill will draw attention to a lovely focal point window.

The Christmas tree

Tabletop Christmas treeA tabletop Christmas tree will take up no floorspace, making your home appear more spacious

A large christmas tree will make a small room look even smaller. If you must have a tree, choose a small, skinny one, or a tabletop tree.

A tall tree will visually lower an already low ceiling.

If you have a two-story space for your Christmas tree, by all means, show off the ceiling height with a tall tree! Just be sure the base of tree doesn't overwhelm or interrupt traffic flow through the room.

Use neutral holiday decorations on your Christmas tree. Select impersonal Christmas ornaments; like glass balls, icicles, ribbon, birds, snowflakes, snowmen, and pine cones.

Place presents under the tree AFTER the open house. Presents are very personal and visiting children may be tempted by them.

Christmas lights

Avoid garish colors or tacky blinking Christmas lights when doing your holiday home staging. 

White lights are always elegant, and can be used to draw attention to special architectural features in your home. String white Christmas lights along arched windows or tray ceilings to emphasize their beauty and draw attention to them. 

Create a holiday atmosphere for an Open House

If you’re planning an Open House, here are a few tips to help buyers remember your home above all the others:

Front door Christmas decorationsStart your holiday home staging at the front door!

A home that smells wonderful will leave a positive impression on buyers. Leave a pot of apple cider with cinnamon sticks, or other Christmas cheer gently simmering on the stove.

Fill a decorative bowl with nutmeg-laden oranges and lemons. 

Cedar boughs are especially fragrant; fill baskets with cedar, hang a cedar wreath on a wall or door, or dress a fire place mantle with boughs.

Avoid artificial odor products…they smell fake and the plug-in oil ones leave an awful viscous feeling in your mouth. Don’t use fragrance to mask a bad smell—buyers can detect the bad odor lurking beneath! Instead, find the source of the odor and fix it. See removing bad odors.

House hunters will appreciate a plate of tasty cookies, hot chocolate, or apple cider. Arrange your holiday goodies attractively on a tray with napkins.

Keep the temperature of your home warm to tempt buyers into staying longer. A crackling fire in the fireplace is always hard to resist. A home buyer who sits down is always a good sign!

Christmas decorating ideas for the home interior

Fireplace mantle Christmas garlandA garland of winter greenery will draw attention to a fireplace. Photo by Stand Out Holiday Designs.

Don’t hang up your Christmas stockings until after the open house or buyers have all gone home. But, do show off your beautiful fireplace and mantle, so they can be appreciated. 

Fresh flowers and fir boughs will freshen and enliven your home. Stage your holiday home with large floral displays for more impact. Small arrangements will tend to fade into the background.

Fill glass canisters with holiday ornamentsFill glass canisters with holiday decorations

Cluster poinsettias in groups of three. Why three? Odd-numbered arrangements are simply more pleasing and appear less studied to the eye.

Sabrina Soto, interior designer from HGTV, advises us not to use any object “smaller than a grapefruit” when accessorizing. Small accessories tend to "disappear" in the overall landscape  of a room.

Fill baskets with glass ornaments or fir boughs and place on a coffee table, the floor, or flanking a fireplace.

Fill large glass canisters with Christmas ornaments or objects from nature, like pine cones, cinnamon sticks or mandarin oranges; place one on each side of a fireplace mantle.

Hang an evergreen wreath over the fireplace mantle, or suspended from ribbon in a window(s).

Everything looks great on a tray! Arrange a tray with Christmas ornaments, greenery, candles, pinecones, Christmas cookies…

Accessorize kitchen countertops or the dining table with a bowl of pomegranates or mandarin oranges. Keep counter tops clear of anything not decorative to make your kitchen look more spacious.

Make a simple holiday centerpiece for your dining table. For help in creating elegant vignettes for the holiday, see how to make a vignette.

Stage bathrooms by hanging towels in holiday colors.

Christmas decorating ideas for the home exterior

Front door wreath

First impressions are vital when you are trying to make a home sale. It's a critical moment when buyers drive up to the curb in front of your house and decide whether they want to see the rest of the house, or drive on past. When planning your holiday home staging, you need to consider curb appeal first.

Now isn’t the time to inflate your giant Frosty the Snowman, or display Santa and all his reindeer across your roof line.

It’s best to depersonalize your Christmas decorations of religious decorations as well, as so many people are offended by anything these days. Remember, you're trying to appeal to the largest group of home buyers possible!

Since first impressions are typically of the front of the house, here are a few holiday home staging tips for decorating your home exterior:

Lighted holiday tree
  • Hang a tasteful holiday wreath on the front door. A fir wreath with a big bow is always tasteful.
  • Flank potted shrubs, (or small Christmas trees) on each side of the front door, and dress with elegant white lights.
  • Place a new door mat with a little holiday color at the front door. Avoid mats with messages written on them.
  • Flank the front door with large urns, (or one off to one side) and fill with fir boughs or canes, something with height.
Highlight outdoor features with Christmas lights. Photo by Alamo City Lights.
  • Check that all of your outdoor lighting is in good working order. Flank a sidewalk with night ground lights to gently guide home buyers to your front door.
  • Use Christmas lights on your home exterior, as well. A simple strand of white lights around the eaves of the front porch or pillars will add a festive touch.
  • Use lights to highlight an outdoor living space, like a gazebo, some lovely trees in the front yard, or a patio. 
  • Fill window boxes with greenery and add touches of color with a bow, Christmas ornaments, or white lights.
Gaudy outdoor Christmas lightsThe "WHAT NOT TO DO" of home exterior Christmas lights when home staging for the holidays!

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