Cost of holiday decorating

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 more than $616 billion on winter holidays for the 2014-2015 season. Furthermore, holiday celebrants the year prior 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.

Halloween ranks second in holidays behind winter holidays, with Americans predicted to spend more than $22 billion in 2015.

How to decorate a Christmas tree

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.

Video: Tips for Picking the Right Christmas Tree

How to use holiday 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.

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. Be respectful of others' beliefs. If your business hires or services people of all faiths, make sure employees and visitors feel welcome.

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 a holiday decorator

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. 

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