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Home staging and holiday decorating

It's easy to create a variety of holiday centerpieces!
Photo: Dan Kalleres - various creative centerpieces 

It’s a tricky balancing act. Your home is for sale and you know it needs to be clutter-free, but you also love decorating for the holidays, be it Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas/Hanukah. What can you do to make your home warm, inviting and festive, without being distracting? When it comes to staging your home for the holidays, it’s about planning and creativity. Let’s look at some key areas to consider:

Outside – Littering your lawn with plastic holiday sculptures and vignettes isn’t going to help if it overpowers the curb appeal of your home. If you use outdoor lights, stick to one color and avoid blinking/chasing lights. Use the lights to highlight the architecture of your home’s exterior, but avoid the “Eat at Joe’s” look. Mums and pumpkins at the front door are beautiful in the fall and natural looking. Evergreen topiaries with white lights add some vibrancy to the front in winter. Wreaths on the door can be a plus or a minus, relative to their scale and if they cover any details you would want buyers to notice.

Inside – It’s about maximizing square footage and maintaining proper flow. If you’re a holiday village collector, this year, think about skipping setting up the giant room-consuming Christmas village. Instead, pick a couple of your favorites and display them in different locations around your home.

If you put up a Christmas tree, is it going to take up floor space that was otherwise clear before? Consider removing a different item, such as an extra chair, from the room in its place. Try to place your tree away from the natural flow of the room. You don’t want buyers to be forced to go around obstacles any more during the holidays than any other time of the year. Watch where you lay your power cords! You don’t want your guests to trip and fall over your cords. Also, cords that run across the floor look messy and taping them to the floor is not an option. 

Pick some of your favorite collectible village pieces and do something different!
Photo: Dan Kalleres - a "snow globe"

Accessories on table tops, foyers, mantles and counters need to be thought out. For any accessory you add, there should be something removed. Otherwise, you’re adding visual clutter. Fall or holiday garland can be used on mantles or staircase railings, but try to keep from putting so much out that you can’t see the mantle or the railing.

Be creative with your framed artwork. Find some festive wrapping paper with a simple, repeating pattern (not something that is too busy). Wrap your framed art like a present. Dress it up with ribbons and a bow. It doesn’t take up any additional space, so it’s a great way to do something fun and different. If you have a wall of family photos that should come down while your home is on the market, this is a great way to cover them up.

Formal or informal? Both of these settings use the same color red and white theme.
Photo: Dan Kalleres - formal or informal settings?

Table settings can be very festive. Just make sure you use an appropriate type of setting for the location (basic Christmas-themed plates and mugs might be fine for a kitchen table, but might not be formal enough for a dining room setting). Holiday centerpieces can be used just as you would normally do throughout the year.

If you’re having an open house, consider offering some hot cider, bake a pumpkin pie or put out some holiday sugar cookies. Our senses play an important role in home staging, too.

Many people treat holidays as a serious time of religious observance. Keep in mind that not everyone practices the same religion as you. The more decorating you do, whether the decorating has any religious undertones or not, the greater chance you have of potentially making a buyer feel less welcome. If you want to set out your nativity sets or menorah, consider putting them away during showings or open houses. Afterwards, you can display them again for your family and friends to admire and enjoy.

If you have a home staging question or would like to share a staging tip, please let me know. Send me a photo of your home staging dilemma and I’ll be happy to help!

To save on floor space, try a suspended Christmas tree this year!Home staging tip:  In lieu of using a centerpiece on your table, try a suspended Christmas tree instead. Use a wreath around the inside base of the chandelier (be careful of any potential fire hazard – you may want to use CFL bulbs to reduce the heat) or loop some garland around the base. Going from wider to narrow, run the garland up the chain to the ceiling and secure the garland at the top with an appropriate clip or fastener (many garland strands have hooks on the ends already). Decorate with ornaments, ribbons, berries or other festive accessories. Rooms with high ceilings and larger-scale chandeliers look amazing and it doesn’t take up any extra square footage. Buyers will definitely remember it!

For more info: HGTV usually runs specials during the holiday season on TV and features tips on their website. They are worth checking out. Just remember to decorate with a home staging focus! Happy Holidays!


  • Leanne 5 years ago

    Love the Christmas tree on the light. I have put a wreath around a light but love the idea of extending it up the chain. Very creative.

  • Wayne 5 years ago

    Dan, your chandelier tree is really great! What an interesting change-up for the "expected" centerpiece.