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  • Writer's pictureDebbie DeMarais

Holiday Décor Dos And Don’ts When Your Home Is On The Market

The real estate market never sleeps. Homes are sold year ‘round and that includes the holidays. If you put your home on the market during the holidays, here are some things to consider regarding your holiday décor. The answer is not “Go all out!” Here’s why.

Single holiday bauble ornament photo by jmiltenburg at

When to decorate when selling your home

If you want to create that festive atmosphere for your family and friends with your holiday décor, I strongly recommend to my clients that they do it after the photographs are taken. This way, should the home not sell immediately, your photos online will not reflect a timestamp once the holidays are over. In February, a listing of a home for sale with holiday décor screams dated. Which can result in the home being on the market for even longer. It could even net you a lower offer as buyers and brokers know the home has been on the market for a long time.

In short, holiday décor in listing photos can lessen your chances of top offers and a quick sale. I try to remind my clients that the online listing photos are not an invitation to showcase your holiday décor, nor a contest for the best tree! The goal is to sell your home as soon as possible for the highest potential.

What if decorating for the holidays simply can’t wait?

I understand. You want to dress your home for the holidays for family and friends so you can all enjoy the season — especially as this is probably your last year in this particular home. I have certainly encountered this dilemma in the past. To make sure extra décor doesn’t contribute to a cluttered look in photographs online, I have a few suggestions.

1. Pare it down

It’s always important to declutter and reduce the number of items in a home for sale at any time of year. But doing so during the most wonderful time of the year is equality critical. It will probably require you to edit your regular décor accessories as you bring out the holiday ornaments.

Rather than decking the halls with your entire collection of nutcrackers, Santa’s or angels, pick one or two to use as a centerpiece with a couple candles, or add your favorite item to a cluster of poinsettias on a dining table or fireplace mantel. It can look elegant, uncluttered and even be a decorative accessory in photos.

2. Keep holiday décor to just two rooms

To keep the holiday décor at a minimum, limit it to one or two rooms. Kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms should stay free of holiday décor. Remember, you’re trying to get a potential buyer to see themselves living in your home. This is why homes for sale should always be edited down to remove overly personal items. The holidays hold many emotional connections for most people, and seeing how your family celebrates the holidays may prevent a buyer from imagining their own traditions in the space.

I know that entertaining during the holidays is particularly important to many people. If you do plan to entertain, feel free to pull out all the stops for the event — but be prepared to tuck it all away before your next showing or open house.

3. Where should the Christmas tree go?

Even if you usually put the tree front and center, when your home is on the market, Christmas trees should be placed in a corner or away from trafficked areas. Allowing buyers the ability to walk easily with a clear path between furniture and hallways is always important. Make certain if it’s a live tree to keep it healthy and watered. Turn on the tree lights (and of course, the other lights in the room) for showings and photographs. Keep your gifts out of sight during showings and photos. Gifts have an emotional connection, unfortunately the emotional connection has nothing to do with the potential buyer.

4. Go for a shorter time frame

When you’re selling your home during the holidays and need to decorate, schedule it for a shorter time frame than what you would normally decorate. Rather than setting everything up the day after Thanksgiving, wait a couple of weeks, then remove it shortly after Christmas, rather than after January 5th.

Two evergreen wreathes on white doors photo by gleangenie at

5. Keep the outdoor décor to an absolute minimum

Holiday greenery flanking your entrance is fine. Adding boughs of greenery in flower pots with a collection of pine cones gives a festive look and can even fill the void of empty vessels. I do recommend staying away from fake flowers.

Just make sure everything is fresh, green, and welcoming. A garland or wreath that looks like it has been through all kinds of weather or is outdated gives an unfavorable first impression. You never want that first impression to give the buyer pause, wondering if the inside is as unfavorable as the outside.

I always recommend my clients remove all yard art prior to listing their home for sale. And this is especially true for the holidays. Blow up Santas, reindeer on the roof, candy canes in the landscaping — it’s best to keep those in their boxes for your new home.

You want to sell a buyer their home, not yours

Buyers want to see if your home has the potential to be their home, rather than being on a holiday decorating tour. Too much décor prohibits their ability to look past the emotional connections you have created with your holiday traditions. Selling the home means allowing buyers to envision creating their own traditions with their loved ones.

If you simply can’t resist going all out... If your family insists on making Christmas as fun and festive and full of ornaments, stockings, and blow-up Santas… If you want to do up the holidays as you’ve always done, go ahead and have one more holiday extravaganza in your home. But then just wait to put your home on the market until after the holidays.

If you ever need help, that’s what I’m here for

Especially considering the emotional attachments the holidays bring, it can be difficult to part with these traditions, even when it means getting a better price for your home. I can help you pare down so you have a better chance of getting a good listing, rather than one that will languish.


Photos courtesy jmiltenburg and gleangenie respectively

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