The 12 Rules of Holiday Home Staging

Decorating for the holidays is an opportunity to express your joy and happiness during the season, as well as to showcase your personal taste in ornaments. However, when you’re trying to make a home sale during this busy time, it can be hard to know what decor is safe to display, and what could turn-off potential buyers.

A white clothed dining table set for a Christmas feast decorated with candles christmas lights pinecones and flowers

Selling your home during the holiday season doesn’t have to put a damper on your celebration. Our 12 rules for holiday staging will help you flaunt the best features of your home while steering clear of anything that could deter a sale.

1. Always be prepared

Fewer buyers are actively hunting this time of year, but the ones who are looking are dedicated and eager to find a home. Remember, they’re splitting time between holiday shopping and home shopping, so try be accommodating to their crazy schedules by keeping your home showing-ready at all times. Need some advice on how to get your home ready for visitors at the drop of a hat? Check out our tips to prepare for a last-minute showing.

2. Keep staging simple

Be mindful when applying holiday cheer to your existing staging, and try to keep your decorations minimal. For example, set your dinner table like you would for a holiday feast, but swap your grandiose centerpiece for a simpler display of candles and pine wreaths. A good rule of thumb is to select decorative elements that are natural, such as snowflakes, evergreen branches, holly, pine cones, and poinsettia.

3. Compliment your existing color scheme

The traditional holiday colors are red and green, but if those hues clash with your blue and khaki living room, you may want to opt for a more muted color palette. Stick with items that blend into your existing home decor, rather than standing out. Additionally, you’ll want to keep the decorations somewhat uniform. We know you love your mismatched collection of ornaments, but for staging purposes, try to choose similar-looking baubles. The overall look will be tasteful and let your home truly shine.

4. Accentuate the positives

If you’re at a loss for which areas of the house to decorate while still keeping things minimal, aim to accentuate the best architectural features of your home. Your mantle will really stand out with a few simple stockings hung on it (with care), and a stunning archway is made more festive with a sprig of mistletoe. Does your house have a sweeping staircase in the entryway? A simple evergreen garland and a few ribbons will make it a true showstopper.

5. Go light on the lights

If your idea of a perfect outdoor holiday display includes inflatable cartoon characters or flashing lights that coordinate with a techno soundtrack, then we might have some unfortunate news for you. You’re going to want to keep the super colorful outdoor light displays under wraps for now. Instead, decorate your home with basic white lights and a few simple wreaths.

6. Don’t sacrifice space

If you celebrate Christmas and have your heart set on a beautiful tree, don’t despair! You can still bring the holiday splendor into your living room – just don’t let it take up too much space. A tree that’s too wide or tall can overwhelm prospective buyers and make your room look smaller than it actually is. Opt for a Christmas tree with a slender base that’s at least 2 feet shorter than your ceiling.

7. Remove personal items

In order to inspire possible buyers to imagine themselves in your home, it’s important to remove deeply personal items. This is great home staging advice to follow at anytime of year, and the holiday season is no exception. Handmade ornaments and decorations are charming, and photographs of Christmases past are wonderful keepsakes, but they are best kept out of sight until an offer has been made.

8. Keep it toasty  

When the weather outside is frightful, you want to keep your home delightful during showings. Crank the thermostat up a few notches right before you leave so that visitors will feel nice and warm during their tour. Stage your home with fluffy throws and blankets to really amp up the coziness factor, and make sure to light a fire if you have a fireplace.

9. Enjoy the scents of the season  

Put your visitors in a yuletide state of mind with some sensory persuasion. Bake a batch of cinnamon or chocolate chip cookies before a showing (bonus: you can also leave the cookies out to sway potential buyers). Lighting a pine or holiday scented candle will also achieve a festive ambiance. Just take care not to go overboard by mixing too many scents or the effect could overpower the nose of a sensitive visitor.

10. Display secular decor    

Wintertime holidays are observed by a number of religions, and there’s no guarantee that buyers will share your personal beliefs. In order not to distract or deter visitors, it’s in your best interest to keep the overtly religious decor to a minimum (or simply tuck it away for the duration of the showing).

11. Clear pathways    

You don’t want buyers trekking through slush, snow, or mud to get to your beautiful home. Make sure all pathways and key outdoor spaces, such as porches and patios, have been cleared of snow and leaves in time for the showing.

12. Capture curb appeal    

If you live in an area that experiences all four seasons, have some pictures of your home’s exterior during the warmer months on hand. This will give prospective buyers a sense of your landscaping and gardening, even while it’s covered in snow.

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