Hol­i­day tip: Let some­one else deck the halls

USA TODAY International Edition - - MONEY - Dalvin Brown

Novem­ber was a hec­tic month for Stephen Love­grove, a 26-year-old life coach from Los An­ge­les.

He spent most of that time at­tend­ing wed­dings, plan­ning a fam­ily Thanks­giv­ing cel­e­bra­tion and pre­par­ing to re­lo­cate to down­town Nashville, Ten­nessee. While all that was go­ing on, he in­ter­nally bat­tled with him­self: “Do I hire some­one to dec­o­rate my home for Christ­mas or not?”

“No, that’s over­board. It’s overkill. That’s too much,” Love­grove re­called say­ing to him­self.

But af­ter land­ing in Mu­sic City with just 30 days to set­tle in be­fore the Yule­tide hol­i­day, and look­ing around at his pre-fur­nished high­rise condo with a “hard to match” color pal­ette, Love­grove caved. “It’s not too much. It’s not too much. I’m do­ing it,” he said.

He is just one of many adults who forgo the an­nual bat­tle with tan­gled hol­i­day lights in fa­vor of sip­ping warm pep­per­mint co­coa while an ex­pert decks the walls with daz­zling blink­ing lights, shiny sil­ver bulbs and gar­net-col­ored gar­land.

“One year, I did it my­self us­ing Fun­fetti rain­bow dec­o­ra­tions, but this year I re­ally wanted a beau­ti­fully and taste­fully dec­o­rated space,” Love­grove said. “Sure, it feels like a splurge. But I’m happy with my de­ci­sion.”

How much of a splurge? Af­ter hir­ing a dec­o­ra­tor, his bud­get al­most tripled.

For the past few years, he’d gather ev­ery­thing he needed to dec­o­rate his home in one swipe with a trip to a lo­cal Tar­get or Lowe’s, spend­ing be­tween $200 and $300 on lights, or­na­ments and a tree.

This year, his bud­get swelled to just shy of $1,000.

The hol­i­day dec­o­rat­ing in­dus­try is ripe with around-the-clock ex­perts and de­sign en­thu­si­asts who can do ev­ery­thing from in­stall lights on third-story rooftops to hand­make 6-foot-tall wreaths.

Vinny Ni­cas­tro runs The Christ­mas Dec­o­ra­tors, a light­ing sales, in­stal­la­tions and decor re­moval com­pany based in Staten Is­land, New York.

“There’s never a bad sea­son,” Ni­cas­tro said. “The win­dow of op­por­tu­nity is small, and there’s al­ways more jobs than we can han­dle. We just don’t have the time to get to ev­ery­one.” The Christ­mas light­ing com­pany ser­vices more than 150 homes be­tween Nov. 10 and Dec. 15 each year.

His team of as many as five em­ploy­ees ar­rives with a truck full of lights, wreaths and gar­land to wrap around trees, weave through bushes and at­tach to the gut­ters.

Upon re­quest, they set up me­chan­i­cal hol­i­day stat­ues and configure an­i­mated dolls.

Kim Scrib­ner, founder of Christ­mas De­signs in Dal­las, said she never turns down a client.

“We can use stuff you al­ready have, or we can bring in some­thing new for that wow fac­tor ev­ery­one wants,” Scrib­ner said. “We had our first home this year on Oct. 1, and, by the end of the month, we were work­ing every day.”

Scrib­ner said her team of up to five de­sign­ers will do what­ever needs to be done. “Be­ing a small in­de­pen­dent busi­ness, we have to be flex­i­ble. We do the man­tel, the tree, the lights. We do all of it.”

KIM SCRIB­NER

Christ­mas De­signs owner Kim Scrib­ner puts the finish­ing touches on a tree top­per in Dal­las.

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