With the holidays fast approaching, we’re all wondering how the festivities might be different this year. Family gatherings, neighborhood caroling and over-the-top office holiday parties are being reeled back across the country due to the ongoing health pandemic. Many of us will be spending Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Christmas at home.
Still, there’s plenty of joy to be spread with the world: you just have to make a plan and be a little creative. Whether you’re coming (as a first-time homeowner) or going (maybe you’re selling your home during the holidays), we’ve gathered some suggestions to help you do the season right.
First holiday in your new home?
Being home for the holidays in 2020 might feel a little ‘been-there-done-that’ after all these months working-from-home or quarantining in lockdowns. But if you’re a new homeowner, getting into the holiday spirit under these conditions is something totally new. Here are 5 tips How to decorate your home for the holidays.
1 – Decorate thoughtfully
If you closed on your home anytime after last year’s holiday season, this’ll be your first time holiday decorating in your new home. Our suggestion? Mirror what the locals do and don’t go overboard. If neighborhood decor is subtle, go subtle. If it’s over-the-top, have at it. And if you live in close-quarters, respect other people’s spaces. Strings of lights adorning your condo deck shouldn’t hang over the deck below. And air-generators keeping your inflatable lawn decor puffed up all night might be too loud if your yard abuts your neighbor’s.
2 – In-home holiday tour
Maybe you moved into your new home since the pandemic started and those outside of your bubble haven’t had the opportunity to check out your new digs. Consider sending a holiday-themed guided tour. Decorate a little something in each room, pull out your mobile device and host a walking tour so your extended family and friends can get a feel for your new home and see how you’re celebrating.
3 – Choosing a tree
For some families, choosing a tree is a yearly tradition. So, if this year you’re going it alone, keep in mind that a live tree should have needles that are hard to pick from the branches. Then bend a needle; it should bounce back and not break. To keep live trees looking their best, they need to be watered daily (sometimes several times a day). If the water drops below the trunk’s sawed-off bottom, a seal forms and water can’t be absorbed until a new cut is made. That’s not easy to do once the tree is up and decorated, so make sure to keep it hydrated. If you decide to cut corners and go with an artificial tree, make sure it’s marked as fire-resistant.
4 – Warming up by the fire
If you’re lucky enough to have purchased a home with a fireplace, the holidays are the perfect time to break it in. Just be sure the flue is open and keep the area free of any greenery, wreaths, or flammable decorations like fake snow. If you hang stockings from the mantle, position them clear of the flames. And remember, wrapping paper burns quickly and intensely and can cause a flash fire, so keep it away from the fireplace! The same goes for decorative and scented candles; keep them away from any papers or decorations and never leave them unattended!
5 – Holiday lights
Before hanging strands of colorful lights on your indoor tree, double-check to make sure that there are no frayed or pinched wires, broken sockets and no loose connections. If a bulb won’t light up, replace it, and if that doesn’t work, toss the entire string of lights. To get a good feel for how many light strands you can safely connect, read the manufacturer’s instructions. When decorating outside, use lights and extension cords rated safe or outdoor use. And avoid overloading cords and power strips. Lastly, remember to turn off all your holiday lights before going to bed or leaving your home. See our blog from last year for more tips on keeping your home safe during the holidays.
Last holiday at your place?
Historically, home sales tend to slow down in November and not pick up again until March. Don’t despair! If you decide to sell your home near the holidays, you’ll find super serious buyers and face much less competition from other sellers. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to change the way you approach holiday staging and decorating! Here are 5 things to keep in mind.
1 – Deck the halls, but not too much
Homes can look warm and cozy during the holidays, but if you find yourself selling at this time, be careful not to supersize the decor. Too much holiday cheer can crowd your home and distract buyers. They won’t be able to see how lovely your family room is if it’s filled to the brim with holiday knickknacks. It’s also a good idea to avoid putting off potential buyers with decorations with religious themes. Instead, opt for universal fall and winter decor that can be appreciated by everybody.
2 – Consider curb appeal
If you live in a region where trees start to lose their leaves in Autumn, doing some maintenance on your home’s exterior becomes an even bigger priority. Naked trees and bushes expose more of the house, so touch up the exterior painting around doors and windows, clean out the gutters and spruce up the landscaping. Your lawn should be tidy, with dead plants removed. You’d be surprised at how a light touch of holiday decor and a winter mix of greenery on the porch or along the walkway can make your home even more inviting. And to keep potential bidders safe, be sure that steps and entryways are free of leaves, snow and ice.
3 – Have a pro take pix
For more than a decade, homebuyers have increasingly started house hunting from the comfort of their homes by browsing online listings on a laptop. That’s even more true in wintertime when prospects are pickier about driving in bad weather to attend an open house. Add social distancing considerations and how your home looks online is a million times more important than it’s ever been. This is your opportunity to make an excellent first impression! Be sure you work with a realtor who’s skilled at posting flattering, high-quality photos of the homes they’re selling. And, if possible, have a few shots of your home in other seasons so home seekers can imagine how it looks year-round.
4 – Market via video
Even under normal circumstances, sellers get much less foot traffic during the holiday season and — again, depending on where you live — wintery weather months. That’s even more true during the current health crisis. A good realtor has already figured out how to get around this, so look for one who is all about directing a professional quality video tour. Ask where it will be posted on the web and how he/she plans to market it to attract house hunters who aren’t comfortable with open houses or taking their chances with spotty winter road conditions.
5 – Safeguard your open house
A general rule of thumb for winter open houses — but not recommended during the pandemic — is to make your home feel cozy and inviting by cranking up the heat. While we’re not suggesting to turn the heat off during a showing, try opening some windows for fresh air so that everyone feels a bit more at ease. Keep a pump bottle of hand sanitizer and a supply of disposable face coverings near the entrance. And keep bedrooms well lit and closet doors ajar, so visitors don’t feel the need to touch doorknobs and light switches. The other rules to selling a home still hold: playing classical music and filling the space with the smell of fresh-baked holiday cookies are tried and true ways to make your home feel cozier. Doing so will help prospective buyers to imagine themselves living there.
Whether you’re new to the neighborhood or saying goodbye, we hope this holiday season is a wonderful one and our best to you in the new year!