Stage Your Home to Impress Holiday Guests

A few tricks used by professional home stagers can make your home holiday-guest-ready, even if you’re preparing for a visit from your in-laws, not potential buyers.

While friends and family might be more forgiving than a home-shopper would be, you’ll still want to create a clean and uncluttered atmosphere for making holiday memories. A major difference is, for friends and family, you don’t need to depersonalize. Tastefully placed photographs and kids’ hand-made masterpieces can help make a house a home, after all.

But you do want to make your place look and smell clean, and you might even want to evoke a sense of holiday magic and warmth. Michele Graham, a Long & Foster regional administrator and accredited home stager who works with agents in the greater Philadelphia area, offered these tips:

Cleanliness first. Make bathrooms sparkle and shine, since these are rooms every guest will probably see. Add fresh cut greens on top of the window treatments, and set out festive holiday hand towels or napkins. Keep small caddies of cleaning supplies in the bathroom and kitchen, or at least on each level of the home, to make clean-ups faster. In the kitchen, run a piece of fresh lemon through the garbage disposal and wipe off the splash guard, which can collect grime.

Clip an automobile air freshener to your shower curtain in a hidden spot to keep the bathrooms smelling good. You can use dryer sheets to do a quick dust job or polish up chrome faucets. Baby oil will make stainless steel appliances shine.

Add sparkle. Put something shiny in every room, whether it’s mirrors, mercury glass, silver or gold candlesticks, picture frames, or a string of white lights. The light will bounce off eye-catching shiny and metallic surfaces.

Bring in some green. Liven up your mantle or table with evergreen branches, holly boughs with berries, dogwood, and other décor provided by nature. You might find the perfect accents right in your own backyard.

Layer and add depth. A few silver and gold accessories add formality, while plaids and burlap are more casual. Embrace the palette of the season, with its gray sky, snow and evergreens. Even after the holidays, you can use white and silver accents around the house. You can add a pop of color using throw blankets and pillows.

Festive curb appeal. Greet your guests upon their arrival with window boxes filled with fresh-cut greens or even fake ones. Holly branches, pine cones and shiny round Christmas ornaments catch the eye.

Graham said you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get your home ready for the holidays. Most of the items she recommends can be found at dollar stores and thrift shops.

And one of the best ways to brighten your space is free. “Keep your window treatments open to let in as much natural light as possible,” Graham said. “It will add a wonderful glow to accent your décor.”

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Holiday Mantel Glam Decor

Anyone who has a fireplace can appreciate how versatile a mantel is. It’s easy to change its look with the different holidays and seasons. And there’s no better season to do this than Christmas. Hang a wreath, decorate it with candles, ornaments, and twinkling lights. The options are endless. If you’re not sure where to start, pick a theme. Here are some ideas to consider.


Gold never goes out of style – especially when it comes to the holidays. If you choose this theme, the majority of your pieces on your mantel should be gilded in one way or another. Generally, it’s good to have a centerpiece. Try a gilded metal wreath to hang above the mantel and make a bold statement.

All White Everything

Nothing says Winter Wonderland like an all-white theme. All-white is pretty glam as it is, but you can use these stockings to add that little extra je ne sais quoi. What’s even better is you can keep it on after the holidays, through the winter. Add a mirror to the wall above the mantel for added appeal.

Go Green

Go natural with some lush greenery. Create a base of winter greenery and lights, then layer on the Christmas touch with holiday candles and reindeer. Once the holidays are over, switch out the Christmas candles for plain ones and put away the trees and stockings. Leave the garland, crystal and silver candlesticks, and even the wreath for a fantastically decorated fireplace focal point for the remainder of the winter season.

Rustic Glam

Start with a pre-lit sparkling garland along the mantel top and a pre-lit wreath above. Add in some pine cones, candles (in mason jars or try glassy-babies), and silver accents in whatever way you deem fit. Add some white stockings with a variety of textures and designs and you’re ready to go.

Colors Galore

If you have kiddos running around your house, a colorful theme is a good way to go. You can’t go wrong with reds, blues, pinks, greens, oranges, etc.; anything bright makes for one of the most festive themes! You can make a DIY Ornament Garland if you have a bunch of leftovers from your tree. Take a few boxes and frames, wrap them with colorful paper and bows, and lay them tastefully on your mantel.

See our Pinterest board for some visual inspiration!

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