Angie's LIST Guide to
Holiday Decorating

Here are some helpful tips for decorating for the holidays, from choosing a tree and hanging lights to hiring a holiday decorating service for the job.
 

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holiday decorating
Professional holiday decorating services can spruce up the inside and outside of your home and make sure it is ready for the holidays. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List member Andrew S.)
 
 

Holiday decor spending

Holiday decorating is typically associated with winter holidays, however Halloween is a heavily decorated holiday as well.

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent about 602 billion dollars on the winter holidays in the 2013-2014 season. Furthermore, holiday celebrants spent an average of $730 each on gifts, food, decorations and more. Monthly consumer surveys showed that shoppers planned to spend an average of $51.60 for winter holiday decorations.

Spending on Halloween decorations is second to Christmas, according to a National Public Radio affiliate. Americans spent roughly 7 billion dollars on Halloween in 2013, especially for costumes and decorations.

MORE: Save now for the holidays!

The Christmas tree

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Some people hire Christmas tree decorating services. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Teri T. of Livermore, Calif.)

A tree is the most popular decoration for Christmas, and both natural and artificial trees have advantages and disadvantages.

Artificial trees

An artificial tree is the perfect solution for families with allergies. It saves money over buying a natural tree every year. Modern artificial trees can look as real as natural trees and can be easily stored. When choosing an artificial tree, have a budget in mind; some artificial trees are quite expensive. Measure the area where the tree will be placed and buy the tree at least a foot shorter than the height of the ceiling to allow for a tree topper.

Natural trees

If you prefer a live Christmas tree, you can buy one already cut or you can cut it yourself. A live tree will typically last four to six weeks before drying out completely. When trimming the tree, cut the branches with an upward cut to enhance the natural shape. Trim about an inch from the bottom of the trunk to allow water to be drawn up. A live tree must always have water, so check the level daily. It should cover about one inch of the bottom of the trunk.

While many enjoy decorating the tree with their family, some hire Christmas tree decorators, or have holiday decorating services decorate their tree.

RELATED: 7 holiday decorating tips to add color to your home

Decorating with lights

Lights are popular decorations for the holidays. If you're using lights from previous years, always check to be sure they work. Check for burned out bulbs, and make sure there are no torn wires.

If you want new lights, there are many options. Here are some basic things to know:

  • LED lights are more energy-efficient than older kinds of decorative lights.
  • When buying lights, always buy strands in the sizes you need. For example, if you need 20 feet of lights, it will be a better value and an easier hanging job to buy one long strand instead of two 10-feet strands. Using longer strands also will reduce the need for extension cords.
  • LED lights and small miniature lights are the safest type. They use the least amount of electricity and are easier to hang.
  • Make sure lights you buy have extra bulbs included.
  • If you're hanging them outdoors, make sure they're outdoor safe.
  • Never hang indoor lights outside.
  • Although outside lights can be hung indoors, it is recommended that you use only those intended for indoors because they do not get as hot as outdoor lights.

CHECK OUT: Electricians recommend GFCI outlets for holiday lights

Holiday decorations at work

Holiday decorating isn't just something to do at home. Decorating the office is a great way to boost employee productivity and morale. Here are some tips for decking the halls at work:

Get the seal of approval. Make sure the boss approves the idea of decorating, as well as the finished plan.

Keep costs down. Set a budget. Consider shopping at thrift shops, dollar stores and clearance sales.

Keep it inclusive. If your business hires or services people of all faiths, make sure employees and visitors feel welcome by avoiding religious motifs.

Connect theme to the business. Get office colleagues who enjoy crafts to lead the charge in creating unique decor with recycled or inexpensive materials, such as paper, cardboard, paint and scissors. Connect the items to the business, if you can.

Consider outsourcing. If there's some money in the budget but no time to get the job done, consider hiring a professional holiday decorating service.

Hiring holiday decorating services

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Hanging lights is a big, dangerous job. Hire a holiday decorating service for help. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Linda P. of Libertyville, Ill.)

Due to the time and labor invested in holiday decorating, many consumers hire holiday decorating services to add festivity to their homes.

Most professional decorating services include providing the decorations, putting them up, taking them down and storing them. However, be sure to talk upfront about what the service will include.

The cost varies, but most experts say the first year for a professional decorating job costs between $800 to $1,500. 

Need holiday decorating help? Hire a pro

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