7 Tips For Staging Your Home During The Holidays

Hanna KielarDecember 04, 2019

While you might think of November and December as a time to get cozy for the holidays, it’s still an active period in the housing market. Nearly five million homes were sold during December 2018. But staging during the holidays can get a little tricky. Should you trim your tree, or do you need to leave your home bare? Can you bring out some family holiday decor or will that turn off potential buyers?

Get those questions answered with these expert tips.

Consider Curb Appeal

The leaves are falling and things look a little drearier outside at the end of the year, so focusing on boosting your home’s curb appeal is a good place to start. This time of year it might require a bit more effort to keep your yard tidy – falling leaves can be a struggle to keep up with.

Once you have a clean yard, move to the fun details of decorating for the season outside. Ashley Baskin, licensed real estate agent and advisory board member for Home Life Digest suggests ways to bring festive elements outside. “Use some holiday decor to add pops of color that draw attention to the entryway,” she says. “Consider poinsettias and evergreens in planters, gourds and pumpkins on the front porch or a nice wreath on the front door.”

Focus On Lighting

Lighting is an important consideration when staging your home, and during the darker autumn days, you’ll want to add additional focus here. Walking into a terribly lit room doesn’t create the inviting mood you want to help showcase your home to potential buyers.

“Nothing is more inviting than a softly lit, cozy atmosphere where home buyers can imagine themselves curling up on the couch with blankets and Netflix,” advises Marty Basher, designer with Modular Closets.

And pay attention to the hue you choose. “Proper lighting not only promotes the mood sellers wish to evoke, but also they trick the eye with how buyers perceive a room,” says Basher. “White light mimics natural light and makes space feel more expansive, perfect for small bathrooms and bedrooms. Yellow light, on the other hand, promotes that comfy-cozy feel that homeowners want for their TV rooms or larger bedrooms.”

Decorations Are OK, In Moderation

Feel free to break out your box of decorations, though you might want to be a little selective with what you showcase. Too many decorations can start to make a room feel smaller. Baskin says to remember that keeping the space open can give the interior a larger feel.

You might want to steer clear of spiritual items. “Also, avoid overtly religious decor so that the home will appeal to the widest pool of buyers possible. Fall decorations lend themselves well to this – minimal, but noticeable,” advises Baskin.

Create the seasonal decor with a little Mod Podge and natural elements, suggests Basher. You can create “a number of inexpensive and colorful decorations that capture the season’s spirit – from gold leaves in frames for the wall to delicate leaf bowls for apple-cinnamon-scented pine cones. Fill a clear vase with golden winter wheat and dahlias for the dining table, or try pumpkins dipped in silver glitter, or any desired color.”

Be Strategic With The Tree

Don’t want to skip the tree? Don’t worry, you can still include it, and even use it to highlight certain assets in your home. Brett Elron, lead interior designer at BarterDesign.co, offers suggestions to help you get the right tree in your home.

“If you are staging a home that has high ceilings –9 or 10 feet plus –then I love to show them off with a tall tree,” he says. “That being said, if you are going to display a tall tree, I tend to lean toward tall and skinny trees. The width of a large tree can actually make rooms look smaller and more cluttered as the branches take up significant space.”

But he also advises that if your room is smaller or doesn’t have high ceilings, you might want to forgo having a tree to avoid making the room feel even smaller.

As for decorating, Elron suggests sticking with a singular pattern, like a simple red theme with garland and red ornaments. But he offers words of caution about specific kinds of decorations. “Don't put up any personalized ornaments like child-created ornaments or family ornaments; it can actually detach potential buyers from the home.”

Think Cozy

Aside from the holidays, this season is a time when you want to hunker down and get cozy. What says “cozy” better than blankets and pillows? Rather than focusing only on holiday decor, you may want to spend time balancing out the decorations you have with some cozy items. “Think winter and cozy versus just holiday season when staging during this time, along the lines of chunky, furry throws and pillows, oversized hurricane vases with votives and large festive hot chocolate mugs displayed in the kitchen,” recommends Basher.

Light A Fire

There are few things cozier than a roaring fire in the fireplace on a cold day. If you have a working fireplace, you might take the time to show it off. If it’s wood-burning, it’s a good idea to arrange a couple of logs even if it’s not lit.

And if you really want to kick things up, have a fire going. Elron is an advocate of using your fireplace to your advantage. “There's nothing better on a cold day than using your fireplace and hunkering nearby. If it's a cold day when you're staging and you have a fireplace, crank that thing on! Fireplaces on a cold day are a great way of showcasing the fireplace and really making a home feel more comfortable and appealing.”

Engage Other Senses

While you might be focused on decorations you can see, don’t forget that there are other senses you can engage when staging your home. Amy Freedman, real estate expert and broker at UpFlip, has had sellers find success when they play music at open houses. “A little touch of music in a bright interior is sure to engage a potential buyer,” she says. “Playing soft music at a low but audible volume can make your home look more peaceful. When mingled with glittering interiors, quiet music can make a place seem more lively and remarkable. This is also a trick which some sellers use in charging more than the value for their home.”

And what’s better than being greeted with the faint scent of the holidays? “Use potpourri, bake a pie, or heat some cinnamon and water on the stove,” suggests Lori Brasseur, interior decorator, stager and home/DIY blogger at Our Repurposed Home. “I use pine-scented sticks in my artificial tree to bring in that fresh-cut tree smell. Just don’t go overboard with scents – a potential buyer may have sensitivities to fragrance.

Staging your home for the holidays takes a little more thought, but with a few simple steps, you can make your home feel warm and inviting to prospective buyers.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is an Associate Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage focused on personal finance, recruiting and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.