It’s the time of year that calendars are packed with holiday parties, kids are out of school, you have holiday guests coming to Sarasota, budgets strained and the roads are beginning to be packed with tourists. Alas, ’tis not the season for real estate. But the good news is that the few brave house-hunters who do venture out are serious about buying a house and stylish trimmings will make them want to ring in the new year in your home.

Holidays can be personal, but you want to make sure your decor is neutral. Romance your buyer, but don’t invite them to your Christmas party.”

Try these tips to get buyers in the right spirit:

Clean and stage. If your living room is already piled high with clutter and tchotchkes, your ceramic reindeer collection is only going to add to the sense of overcrowding. Clean first then stage.

Create a cozy vibe. The less-is-more mantra of home staging may tempt you to forgo holiday cheer this year. But a few subtle touches like a bowl of pinecones, an evergreen wreath, or a pot of cider simmering on the stove can create a warm and festive feeling in your home.

Complement your palette. Before you start untangling your tinsel, make sure your holiday collection matches your current decor. If your living room is painted a soothing ocean-blue hue, skip the clashing red garland and opt for white snowflakes or a silver glass-ball wreath. If you’ve got an earthy color scheme, accent with rich tones like cranberries, forest greens and gold.

Accentuate the positive. Too many trimmings may distract buyers, but the right accessories can draw attention to your home’s best features. Dangle mistletoe in an arched doorway, or display your menorah on the ledge of a bay window; just don’t block a beautiful view with stick-on snowflake decals or clutter an elegant fireplace with personalized stockings.

Go light on lights. Step away from the inflatable snowman, Clark Griswold. One man’s “merry” is another man’s “tacky,” so tone down any garish light displays while your home is on the market. Instead, use simple string lighting to play up your home’s architecture or draw attention to the gorgeous palm tree in your front yard.

Be an equal-opportunity decorator. Keep the Nativity scene in storage this year, because overtly religious flourishes may be off-putting to some buyers. Keep neutrality throughout, so you can attract any type of buyer. Not sure what qualifies? No matter what your religion is, you’re not going to feel offended by a nutcracker as an example.

Mind the tree. A tall Christmas tree can help you show off your two-story great room, but make sure the wide base won’t overwhelm the floor space. If your living area is on the small side, save space with a skinny tree. Swap the gaudy heirloom ornaments and trim your tree in a cohesive theme such as icicle lights and silver tinsel, for example, or blue and gold glass balls.

Clear the clutter. A few decorations can stir the holiday spirit, but don’t feel obliged to hang every last ornament. Limit yourself to a few hints of holiday flair, but stash the rest in the basement for now. If you start to miss your Santa figurines, just remember that with a little luck, you’ll be celebrating next year’s holidays in a new home. And you can decorate that place any way you want.

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