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Few things bring on the holiday spirit like twinkle lights, ribbons, and swaths of evergreen. Unwrapping baubles and ornaments will certainly kick-start the season—but if it all starts to get a little overwhelming in between buying presents, cooking holiday feasts, and you know, holding down a job/family/relationship/social circle, there is an answer you might not have considered. You can cut down your workload and step up your decor with the help of a savvy holiday decorator.
That way, you get all the feels of the holiday, without having to do all the legwork. Whether you’re looking for subtle touches like a curated winter wonderland landscape to adorn your built-in shelves, or a grand reveal that will have guests gushing over your decked halls, there is a package for you. And it doesn’t have to break the bank. Depending on the result you want, you can bring in a team of White-House-style decorators for a pretty penny, or hire a holiday elf from Taskrabbit to hang lights for a modest fee. (How modest? Scroll down.)
Even if you have a knack for design, calling in a pro is useful. “Decorating takes longer than you imagine and it’s easier when you have a second pair of hands,” says Naomi deMañana, interior stylist and floral designer, who focuses on garlands and wreaths. “If you can afford a decorator or a floral designer, it is definitely worth it. They have years of knowledge of what works, how much product and time is needed, and will often come and refresh (or replace) the greenery.”
Interior designer Ghislaine Viñas also points out that because clients and designers often form a close bond while working on interiors, creating a “bespoke look with a holiday spirit” is a natural extension of the overall design.
See how professional holiday decorating works before you call these Santa’s Little Helpers.
Why should you hire a designer to decorate for the holidays?
One (obvious) reason why you should hire a professional holiday decorator is time. Between office parties, gingerbread house projects, and hosting–the holiday season is busy. Delegating this task will free you up to enjoy all the other festivities as you reap the glittering results.
The other is because interior designers and florists are merchants of joy–especially if you ask for a holiday home reveal. “Designers bring a level of creativity, including access to unique and high-quality decor, and how to display them in exciting and stylish ways,” says Jennifer Verruto, principal at Blythe Interiors. “Even when we’re decorating with a client’s existing pieces, a fresh set of eyes, especially ones trained in making a space feel curated and complete, is a huge bonus!”
Verruto explains that to elevate the holiday look you have to move past the notion of a holiday-themed bonanza, which can risk feeling “kitschy and one-note.” Instead, she jazzes up the client’s existing items to embody the seasonal style–like repurposing a gorgeous vase with seasonal greenery or adding cedar clippings to decor boxes. “Clients enjoy seeing their space styled with both old and new,” she says. “Our approach is both cost-effective and sustainable, minimizing their need for excessive holiday-specific purchases.”
Finally, call a professional holiday decorator if you want to transform your space from great to grandiose. Tina Langley Walsh, creative director at Morano Group, a landscaping and hardscaping company, is known for her statement designs. Most recently, she wrapped 15,000 lights around an 80-foot sycamore tree for a client who wanted people to drive by his house and say, “Wow.” This project took a crew and 12 hours to wrap up the entire trunk and all the branches–not something a DIY home decorator is likely to tackle.
What does professional holiday decorating entail?
In a nutshell, the holiday decorating projects encompass a consultation, design, setup, and taking it all down—which, as we all know, is the worst part of the holidays.
Some clients are interested in fresh concepts, mood boards, color palettes, and sourcing unexpected decor, while others want help with existing decorations–and maybe lugging boxes down from the attic, Verruto jokes.
For Langley Walsh, also known as @LavishGardener on Instagram, each project requires a site visit to understand the scope of work for both the interiors and the exterior. In some cases, her clients just ask to “make it beautiful,” while others want to be involved and talk about themes—everything from classic Candy Cane to bold-and-festive peacock colors to winter white florals. Her services involve multiple holiday trees (to match the room, of course), fireplaces, foyers, and dazzling outdoor decor with larger-than-life pieces–like installing a 7-foot wreath on a balcony.
Post-brainstorming, Langley Walsh presents her clients with a mood board to outline her vision. Then, it’s time to start decorating! “The clients purchase the lights and all decor, and we provide a full service installation including set up and breakdown,” says Langley Walsh. “We also offer to store all of the decor as an option.” Yes, that’s right—one major perk of hiring a holiday decorator is that they may store your decor in between holiday seasons, freeing up all that basement space!
Those looking to create a specific atmosphere can talk to their holiday decorator about different types of packages. In addition to styling, Verruto offers custom tablescape settings. “Typically, clients want this service if they are going to be hosting one of the big holiday dinners and are looking for a dazzling display to really wow their guests,” she says. “With this service, we typically ‘set’ the table a few days before the holiday.”
A holiday decorator can also put special touches on small projects, such as making bows or wrapping presents, says deMañana, a ribbon-making whiz who adds that a task like that can be time-consuming and tedious for a client.
How long does a holiday decorating project take?
First, you’ll need to plan ahead. You might be used to putting up holiday decorations after Thanksgiving, but booking a professional holiday decorator at the end of November can prove challenging.
Even if you’re an existing client, reach out for a holiday decor consultation in late September or early October. Curating a design and sourcing all the styling elements may take up to two months. “A lot of thought goes into the look and the theme,” Viñas says, noting that for some clients the displays are akin to those of store windows. “It’s done as much for the neighborhood as it is for their family and friends.”
Installation can take anywhere from half a day to two days–depending on the scope of the project. For deMañana, it takes a full day to put up all the garlands and wreaths, and another full day to do a tree. Langley Walsh, who works with a crew, notes that it would take at least half a day to put all the finishing touches on the fireplace and staircases.
How much does professional holiday decorating cost?
Locking down a price range for a professional holiday decorator is tricky because so much of the fee depends on the project, craftsmanship, and materials. Taskrabbit offers a myriad of holiday services–from gift wrapping to hanging lights to tree decorators. Project fees run from $65-$145 for hanging lights and $39-$88 for decorating. (They’ll also do toy assembly for $52-$126.)
Should you reach out to an event or interior designer, they may charge an hourly rate or a flat fee based on the complexity of the holiday concept. Verruto says that a new client holiday consultation can start at $495—which, for some, can be all that is necessary. Generally, she says $800 is a good entry point for projects such as tablescapes and other detail-oriented decor.
For premium projects that require a crew (as well as machinery to put up thousands of lights), the rate can start at $2,500 and go up to $15,000, according to Langley Walsh. “If you’re wrapping trees in lights, it can take a long time,” she says. “The total cost is a combo of product, labor, and time.” But the holiday cheer great decorations bring? That’s priceless.