3 Simple Steps To Make Holiday Installs Less Stressful

For me, and many other interiorscapers, the weekend after Thanksgiving is the most stressful three days of the year. It’s the weekend most clients want their holiday installs completed for everyone to enjoy when they return to work the following Monday. It’s also one of the most difficult three days to find people willing to work. It never fails, two or more people from the ‘Thanksgiving team’ will either call out last minute, arrive incredibly late and too hungover to do much of anything, or not show up at all.

This year, I’m already feeling the stress of holiday labor with businesses struggling to hire. I’m pre-planning more than ever and using some tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way to get the same amount of work done with fewer bodies.

Here are three simples steps I take to make holiday installs less stressful.

1. Ask for a dedicated decorating space

One way to get more done with less help is to have the option to use an area at the client’s location to hold decor. I have one building that has three floors of decorations that have to be completed that weekend. In exchange for the difficult install date, I asked to be able to set up their design items in an empty office space two weeks before. Some of which are smaller, pre-decorated wreaths and others are large items, like trees that can be decorated during the week on-site and wheeled into place. 

This eliminates the need for someone to make multiple deliveries on Friday. Instead, all the items are fully decorated and ready to move into place. For any large holiday installs that require a Thanksgiving weekend set-up, I make sure to request a dedicated space that can be used to prep and store the decor short-term. Large installs are usually synonymous with large buildings featuring multiple storage areas, vacant conference rooms, or unused space —so this request is not typically an issue. 

By having the decorations ready to go at the install location, it reduces my staff needs by half. Another benefit of using this option is fewer stressful mistakes are made. Forgetting something the design needs is a common occurrence —especially when people are rushing. Having all the design items at the location enables you to check and recheck everything on the list and then allows time to correct any mistakes before the install day. 

2. Replace old decor with brand new decor

The main goal of any company project is to make as much profit as possible. Christmas trees are probably the biggest expense in holiday design. I’ve used some of my commercial trees for over ten years. With every passing season, more needles begin to fall off, the framework gets harder to set up, and the pre-lit lights burn out. 

One of my install locations requires a 15’ tree to be installed and decorated on-site. This job needs six people with two being strong enough to get the extremely heavy sections in place. Once the tree is up, two or three people string the lights since all the pre-lit branches have since burned out. Cleanup is another demanding task as damaged needles shower the floor from years of handling.

Last season, I got a new 15’ tree for this specific install and couldn’t believe the difference. The tree frame is a lighter aluminum making it easy for two average size people to lift and set up. It’s designed to be an ‘easy set-up tree’ which cuts labor time in half. Connecting the pre-lit LED strands is quick, simple, and cuts out the wasted hassle of wrapping light strands 15’ down to the floor. With very few needles coming off, I didn’t need a dedicated person for cleanup. Now with the updated tree, what was a six person job can now be handled by three people. Plus, that added dilemma of getting at least two people who can lift extremely heavyweight items is no longer an issue. 

3. Ask your clients to be flexible

It’s completely understandable that most clients expect their holiday design to be a welcoming sight when staff and tenants come back from the Thanksgiving break. My repeat clients get this coveted spot, making that weekend extremely difficult to fit any new clients in.

When a new client wants decor, it’s always exciting until I find out they want it Thanksgiving weekend! Knowing that staff availability is extremely difficult, I’ll offer a discount if the holiday install can be completed the week before or after. So far, this compensation for a more flexible install date has been enough to appease new holiday decor clients. The flexibility also makes a new holiday project far less worrisome for our entire interiorscape team.

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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