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Holiday Staging Tips

You don’t have to go all Clark Griswold to show your holiday spirit. Decorations can be subtle, tasteful and inviting when a house is up for sale during the holiday months.

Sure, there are two sides to this: Some staging and real estate professionals assert that you shouldn't decorate at all during the holidays, careful not to offend those who don't celebrate the holiday. Others argue you should definitely decorate and that a festive house can welcome buyers. How much or how little you decorate may be open to debate with your home sellers. But if you are looking to add in some tasteful holiday decor this season to a home, here are some ideas:


1. Clean and stage. Before you decorate, your house needs to be staged. If your living room is already piled high with clutter, your ceramic reindeer collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding. Keep it simple.


2. Create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a nature-inspired green to enhance a room with subtle décor. Put a pot of cider simmering on the stove, this can create a warm and festive feeling in your home


3. Complement your palette. Before you start untangling your tinsel, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted a soothing ocean-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white snowflakes or a silver glass-ball wreath. If you’ve got an earthy color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens and gold.


4. Accentuate the positive. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features. Dangle mistletoe in an arched doorway, or display your Cresch or menorah on the ledge of a bay window; just don’t block a beautiful view with stick-on snowflake decals or clutter an elegant fireplace with personalized stockings.


5. Go light on lights. Step away from the inflatable snowman, Clark Griswold. One man’s “merry” is another man’s “tacky,” so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. Keep the holiday decorations looking as good in the daylight as they are in the dark.

Use a simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous fir tree in your front yard.


6. Offer up some holiday treats to visitors. Filled candy bowls and cookies will be a welcome surprise and may make buyers want to linger.


7. Mind the tree. A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree. Swap the gaudy heirloom ornaments and trim your tree in a cohesive theme such as icicle lights and silver tinsel, for example, or blue and gold glass balls.


8. Clear the clutter. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but don’t feel obliged to hang every last ornament. “A lot of people, when they decorate, tend to use all the extra space in their house,” Powers says. “You still want each space to look as spacious as possible.” Limit yourself to a few hints of holiday flair, but stash the rest in the basement for now. If you start to miss your Santa figurines, just remember that with a little luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home. And you can decorate that place any way you please.


9. Accentuate the Entry Dress up the doorstep with a wreath and planter. Silver is shiny and can reflect the sun, making it a great choice to get others to stop and take notice of a home.


10. Highlight the fireplace mantel with holiday décor to get this amenity to take center stage in the room. But don’t overcrowd it with decorations. Less is sometimes more, in this case.

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11. Use garland to highlight a feature. For example, get them to notice that curvy stairway with some festive garland wrapped around it.


12. Add in some poinsettias. The holiday plants aren’t only festive but the red-popping color can add to a room's tables or doorstep.