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Originally published Friday, December 14, 2012 at 8:00 PM

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How to stage your house during the holiday

Buyers shopping for a home during the holiday season are serious and motivated.

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Dear Santa,

Please bring us a buyer for our home. It’s been staged with holiday TLC. May they bring a huge pile of cash or a nice pre-approval letter.

Thank you,

Stressed-out Home Seller

So, it’s that time of year — the holidays. The time of year that you celebrate, when you shop, decorate, wrap, mail and bake. And, oh wait, you also have to sell your house!

Before you freak out, here are some helpful interiors tips to assist in selling your house quickly, even with the slowdown in house hunting during November and December. The good news is that buyers who are out there are serious and motivated.

Clean and edit

This is the No. 1 priority when selling your home any time of the year. You want your house to show at its absolute best, which means light, bright and squeaky clean. Remove all the counter clutter, stacks of magazines and other trinkets around the house.

Deck the halls

Definitely decorate for the holidays, which makes a home warm, inviting and festive. But “less is more” definitely holds true, as the goal is to have your house appear spacious and open.

Put your prized nutcracker figurines — and, for that matter, most of your holiday pieces — in storage. Display no more than three pieces on any tabletop.

The palette of your decorations should match your home interiors. For example, if you have a pale-blue interior, add subtle silver decorations — not big red bows. Place a tasteful wreath on the front door. Or place a beautiful menorah in your large picture window.

Trim the tree

A tall Christmas tree is great if you are trying to accentuate a two-story foyer or great room, but otherwise, opt for a smaller and thinner tree than you typically might have.

Use a cohesive color scheme and theme for the ornaments that you used for your interior holiday décor. Don’t display Aunt Lola’s special heirloom ornaments or the children’s school-made decorations.

Remember that if buyers are admiring your collection, they won’t be paying attention to your house.

Wrap the gifts

The gift wrap that you choose should also complement the color and style of your décor and tree. Limit the gift wrap to a beautiful neutral color such as silver or gold metallic, then choose colorful ribbon that matches the rest of your scheme. Also limit the number of gifts under the tree. If it begins to overflow, put the gifts received from others in the closet.

Don’t get personal

It’s always recommended that you remove all or most family photos, no matter what time of year when you are selling. During the holidays, take this one step further. Keep the personalized stockings over the fireplace put away. Don’t display all your holiday cards; keep these in a small basket out of the way. Potential buyers need to feel that this could be their home.

Stir the senses

Set the mood during your open houses. Have classical seasonal music playing, light the fireplace, simmer apple cider on the stove and set out delicious holiday cookies.

Light candles with wonderful winter fragrances. Pine cones, evergreen or flowers like paper whites make beautiful centerpieces. Drape a cozy blanket over a reading chair. The more senses you can stimulate, the more alluring your home will be.

Keep wide appeal

Keep specific religious or cultural decorations packed away. You want to appeal to the largest group of people, so you don’t want to offend anyone. This can be difficult, but remember that next year you will be enjoying the holidays in your new home.


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