Staging your home for sale over Christmas

Staging your home for sale during the holiday season is no picnic. It means decluttering at the most cluttered time of the year. It means minimizing decorations when your neighbours are stringing Christmas lights as though they’re illuminating an airport runway. And it means stripping away the personal mementos that are such a precious part of your family’s Yuletide tradition.

Cindy Lutes understands all that. She’s co-owner of Total Home in Kemptville and a property stylist who helps clients stage their homes for sale.

Christmas or not, “You’re still in the business of selling your home,” she says. “It’s important to personally detach yourself from your property no matter which season you are in so that your buyer can visualize themselves living in the space. The fact is, buyers need to mentally move into your house before they will make it their (own) home.”

And if it means you can sell your house faster and for more money, the sacrifice will have been worth it.

First things first

Lutes suggests you start by packing away many of your everyday accessories when the seasonal ornaments come out. Too many people “layer” Christmas and everyday items, she says. That leads to the clutter that Realtors dread because it detracts from a home’s esthetic appeal and suggests a lack of maintenance.

And don’t just stash the everyday stuff in a nearby closet. Use the same bins where you keep your Christmas decor and put those bins neatly away.

Videos: DIY Christmas decor ideas

Lutes also recommends being extra-vigilant about tidiness when trying to sell your home over Christmas. With the normal schedule of school and work on hiatus, “It’s common for us to become more cluttered than usual, so be more cognizant of the state of your home.”

staging your home

Clutter includes Christmas cards. You may love the sparkly reindeer greeting from Aunt Ruth, but she doesn’t mean a thing to potential buyers, and the card is one more distraction when you want strangers to be falling in love with the house itself.

Ditch the stockings and baby pictures

When selling your home, you need to make it as impersonal as possible so that anyone viewing it can imagine themselves living there.

That means, at least for this Christmas, taking down the personalized stockings by the fireplace, photos of your kids on Santa’s knee, and the like.

That doesn’t mean banishing Christmas from your doorstep. The website realtor.com also suggests dressing up the bathrooms with peppermint-scented soaps and candles plus tasteful, holiday-themed towels. “They give the rooms some spirit and interest,” says the site.

Christmas tree dos & dont’s 

“A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-storey great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space,” cautions HGTV in an article on selling your home at this time of year.

A skinny tree will stop a small living room from looking even smaller.

READ: Making your dining room a welcoming space

HGTV also recommends passing on the elaborate heirloom ornaments in favour of a cohesive look like icicle lights and tinsel or glass balls in simple blue and gold.

staging your home

Lutes says to put just a few, attractively wrapped presents under the tree until Christmas Eve. Again, clutter-free is the rule.

Relator.com goes a step further, saying to leave nothing under the tree to prevent theft during viewings. Lock the presents in the trunk of your car, advises the site, especially during open houses.

Skip the inflatables & Times Square look

You may adore that inflatable Grinch who graces your front lawn every year, but “one man’s ‘merry’ is another man’s ‘tacky,’” points out HGTV. You don’t want to annoy a potential buyer before they’ve even stepped inside your home.

staging your home

Elaborate outdoor lighting displays are also a no-go. Instead, suggests HGTV, consider simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or lend elegance to a large fir tree.

For the front door, a tasteful wreath adds a seasonal welcoming note.

More tips from Lutes & others

Maintain colour consistency in your holiday decor. If you have a theme of red, stick with it and add a bit of silver and green for fun.

Put the big Nativity scene in storage: not everyone shares your religious convictions.

Make sure your house is warm and bright — this is no time to fret about a few extra dollars on your fuel or electricity bill.

If all this just sounds too overwhelming, talk to your Realtor. He or she may advise simply taking down your listing for a week or two.

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Updated Dec. 4, 2018. Originally published Dec. 10, 2017