When Less is More | Tips for Staging Your Home During the Holidays

One of the obvious perks of the holidays is the chance to let your festive side loose. Nothing says Christmas more than a beautifully lit home, bountiful wreaths and sprawling boughs, maybe a prancing reindeer (or two) or even a snowman, — you name it, the holidays are all about feeling the joy. And because we are all different, how we choose to express that joy through our Christmas decorations will also be different for each of us. But, if your house is on the market during the holidays, “Less tends to be more,” says Lori Butler, Certified Ultimate Stager and owner of Upstaged Home Staging and ReDesign in Fall River.

Trying to effectively stage your home in order to appeal to the widest market while restraining your holiday instinct to “go all out” during your favourite holiday can be pretty hard, especially when the holidays are filled with so many emotions and things that bring up joy, says Butler. So, to help you with this tricky balancing act, she offers a few tips that will still make your home feel festive and charming.

“The easiest rule of thumb to remember when staging your home at Christmas is to decorate it like you would an office or a business,” says Butler. “This will keep it more neutral; with no personal items, but still make it look and feel festive and inviting.”

Curb Appeal

Regardless of the holidays, curb appeal is always high on the list for potential buyers. “Most buyers start making a decision about a prospective home within the first six feet of entering it,” she says.

While Butler says she would steer away from putting up outside lights, “If you decide to, it’s best to keep them all one neutral colour. White tends to be the best,” she adds. “Instead, I would suggest a nice, big wreath on the front door with red berries, for example, an urn and some fresh evergreen boughs or birch logs, just something simple. You can even add a bright-red mat outside the front door that will give the outside a welcoming feel.” And don’t forget to make sure your porch is always well lit. 

As for the endless array of lawn and garden ornaments on the market, including any blow-up Santas or Snowmen, it’s a definite no-no — you want buyers to focus on your home and these can be very distracting.


The days are shorter now, so make sure your home is well-lit inside and out for potential buyers. This creates a warm and inviting atmosphere to draw them in. For daytime showings, open all of the curtains to reveal the beautiful, natural light. “Every room should have at least three sources of light, not including natural light,” Butler explains. “A few candles on the mantle can draw the buyers’ attention to that beautiful fireplace, which is often a focal point in a room. It can also create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere.”  But make sure to stay away from any strong scented candles, unless they are natural essential oils, she warns, as so many people today have environmental sensitivities.

Enhance Your Home’s Natural Style

Pay special attention to your home’s architectural style and the focal features that make it unique. Avoid blocking that stunning view to the backyard, for example, or cluttering that custom-made mantel or those spectacular built-ins. Instead, enhance these areas with tasteful holiday décor. “Stay true to the architecture of your home and decorate with that in mind. Some garland draped across the fireplace mantle with a few pine cones and candles or Christmas balls will give just the right amount of festive feel while accenting this beautiful feature,” says Butler.

Keep it Focused

While you may want to make every room in your home a winter wonderland, when staging for the holidays, it’s best to focus on just one or two main areas, says Butler. Remember, one person’s winter wonderland may be another’s clutter. Decorate your mantel, a table top with a simple glass bowl filled with Christmas balls, for example, and even a bannister or two. “Keep it simple, though, and refrain from using every ornament you have, as hard as that may be,” she jokes, adding that ultimately, you want buyers to be able to envision how they would decorate the space.

Keep it Natural and Neutral

While traditional red and green may be your usual décor palette, for staging, keep those to a minimum and go with a more neutral feel in most areas, says Butler. “Look for decorations that have a natural feel and texture, like fresh pine boughs, pine cones, birch logs … think about bringing the outside in.” 

Christmas Trees

“When it comes to choosing your Christmas tree, pick one that will not eat up precious floor space,” she says. Often, we have to rearrange a room to fit our tree, so when staging, it’s best to find a smaller tree with less girth. If your house has high ceilings, for example, accentuate the space with a tall, narrow tree to showcase this feature. “You want your prospective buyers to be able to easily move throughout the room and see the space and style of the room without distraction.” And when decorating the tree, keep the palette the same as the rest of the decorations. Make sure the tree is lit day or night when buyers come through and as much as you may want to hang those precious ornaments your kids made you in grade school, remember that less is always more when staging, she adds. This also pertains to presents. “A few presents under the tree are fine, but don’t go overboard, and after Christmas, be sure to remove them.” 

Stick to Seasonal Décor

Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so using too many religious decorations may be off-putting for some interested buyers. Instead, you can use any number of seasonal accents, such as evergreen boughs, winter branches, like birch displays, holly berries, reindeer, lanterns, candles etc., says Butler. She adds that like any time of year, though, when staging a home, always try to avoid using anything that is too personal, like photos, since buyers may find it difficult to picture themselves in your home.


The holidays touch us in many ways, including the many sights, sounds and smells of the season. When staging your home, you can create an inviting and memorable atmosphere by appealing to a buyer’s emotional connection to the holidays. Turn the heat up a little to ensure your home is inviting and comfortable, place a cinnamon stick in a warm oven or some fresh-baked cookies for an irresistible aroma, or if you have a fireplace, light it just before the guests arrive to create the perfect holiday ambience while showcasing this feature of your home, suggests Butler.

The bottom line, she says, “While the main rule for staging your home during the holidays is to keep decorating neutral and to a minimum, you still need to enjoy the season. So, have fun and happy decorating!”