Holiday Home Staging

How to sell your home and make a faster, more profitable 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 season in their usual fashion.

This isn’t the best time of year to market a home, but for those with no other option, it’s helpful to know that most buyers looking at this time of year are serious buyers.

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

Before doing any holiday home staging, you should have decluttereddepersonalized, 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's best features, not covering them up.

Filling every nook and cranny of your home with Christmas decorations will not only make your home look cramped and cluttered, buyers may miss important details and focal points if they're suffocating under layers of tinsel, plastic greenery, and Christmas elves.

Now isn’t the time to bring out little Pam’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 currently 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 of 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 will 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

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

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

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

Focal point Christmas decorating ideas:

  • Place a Christmas tree 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;
  • Place a candelabra in a windowsill to highlight 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 can 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 clear glass balls, icicles, ribbon, birds, snowflakes, snowmen, and pine cones.

Place Christmas presents under the tree AFTER the open house or buyers have all gone home. 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 these kinds of positive details. 

Create a holiday atmosphere for an Open House

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

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

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

House hunters will certainly appreciate a plate of tasty cookies, hot chocolate or apple cider. Avoid chocolate treats, as "little fingers" may smudge your newly painted walls! Arrange your holiday goodies attractively on a tray with napkins.

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 remover products…they smell fake and the plug-in oil ones leave a nasty, viscous feeling in your mouth. Buyers can always detect a bad odor lurking under artificial sprays! Instead, find the source of the odor and fix it.

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 that sits down is always a good sign!

Christmas decorating ideas for the home interior

Fireplace mantle Christmas garlandA garland of winter greenery will highlight your fireplace. Photo by Stand Out Holiday Designs.

Wait to hang up your Christmas stockings until after the open house. Buyers don't want to see personal objects strewn about. It makes it harder to envision themselves living in your home.

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

Fill glass canisters with holiday ornamentsFill glass canisters with holiday decorations.

Cluster pots of 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 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're 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 that 10 foot tall Frosty the Snowman or drag Santa and all his reindeer up to the roof.

It’s best to depersonalize your Christmas decorations of religious items 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 typically start at the front of the house, here are a few holiday home staging tips for decorating your home exterior:
  • Hang a tasteful holiday wreath on the front door. A fir wreath with a big bow is always classy.
  • Flank potted shrubs, (or small Christmas trees) on each side of the front door and dress with elegant white lights.
Highlight outdoor features with Christmas lights. Photo by Alamo City Lights.
  • 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 just one off to the side) and fill with fir boughs or canes, something with height.
  • Check that all of your outdoor lighting is in good working order. Flank a sidewalk with ground path 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 an elegant touch.
  • Use lights to highlight an outdoor living space, such as a gazebo, 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 outdoor Christmas decor when staging your home during the holidays!

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