Holiday Decorating as an Interiorscape Service: Why You Should & Tips

Many of you already offer holiday decorating to your clients, and many of you emphatically say, “no way”. But, if you are wanting to diversify, or add a boost of income to your year end, this is a great way to do it.

The holiday season is inevitable. If you care for the plants in a commercial lobby, chances are your client is going to ask for Poinsettias, or you’re going to offer them, as a color rotation. That could morph into a 9’- 12’ tree, a wreath (or 4), some garland, and an installation and tear-down date.

Prep early

Our first holiday letter goes out as early as mid-February. We include a picture of the décor set up from the past season and highlight any issues such as burnt out light strands, broken ornaments, stolen items, plus suggestions for additional décor, or even a color change.

Another letter goes out mid- August, or early September, reiterating the above issues and adding an installation date and asking for the approval of cost.

You have control

If you are new to this, you may only want to do a few large lobby displays to make the buying process affordable. We lease all the inventory to our clients, with a 2-3 year agreement, depending on the building.

holiday decoratingMeet with your client and listen to their vision for what they would like for a holiday display. Take a look at the space to decorate and be aware of things like ceiling heights and accessible electric outlets. If you use garland, only one side of the stairwell can be decorated according to ADA building compliance. Ask for a budget from your client. Try using Pinterest, or Power Point to assemble an “Idea board” to present before finalizing a proposal and set cost.

A timely trip to a popular wholesale merchandise market such as Atlanta, Chicago, or Dallas is the best way to see the newest color trends, plus quality trees, garlands, wreaths, ornaments, lights and accessories. Seeing and touching is advisable. What looks fantastic in a catalog, doesn’t always translate into that once delivered. Color and quality usually being the unfavorable culprit.

Offering several color palettes, or even a few themes could make it easy to interchange colors the following years, but a lot of clients like a customized décor to fit the environment and tenant “vibe” in their buildings. You will amass an inventory of reusable items, so having an adequate storage facility is a must.

Decking the halls is intense

For those of us who are seasoned decorators, we are currently firming up our installations, ordering supplies, and possibly constructing displays. You may have even had an open house for your property managers, offering design options.

You are setting a tentative installation and teardown schedule and lining up additional help.

The Poinsettia pre-order is in, and you’re putting together your post Poinsettia color rotation.

There was a time when no one would have started decorating until the week after Thanksgiving. But more and more people are wanting a longer display. Starting early, if allowed, eases some of the scheduling pressure to be finished by the first full week of December.

Removal, or tear-down is usually finished by the first weekend in January.

Installation

Details, details, details…

Put together a couple of tool boxes for your installation team(s). Wire, wire cutters, scissors and gloves to handle miles of garland are a must. Also, tie wraps, extra lights, extension cords, adapters, power strips, tape and timers. Essential tools like a level, hammer, screwdrivers, glue gun and glue sticks, hardware and Command strips. Add a first-aid kit, we seem to go thru a lot of band aids during this time.

Wreaths and garland that are not “fluffed” and don’t swag or curve nicely, smashed bows from years ago, crooked trees and burnt out tree lights, can turn an amazing display into a mediocre one fast. Take a before picture of the lobby. Then a few angles after the installation is complete, plus some up close shots of the colors, textures of the elements and ornaments used.

Tear-down and Storage

Remember that you will most likely be using all this inventory again in the coming holiday season! Slow down. Take care and store everything well. It’s been a hectic time, it’s tempting to shove everything in a box, tape it and toss it in the truck, not to be seen again for another 10 months. But trust me on this, have a pre-packing meeting. Give all personnel a large black marker and a roll of tape. Emphasize the importance of labeling and noting EVERYTHING in each box, or tote.

Breathe

It is a short period, full of a lot of extra hustle and bustle. It can be a creative, profitable experience.

As you spread holiday joy and cheer around the city, have fun with it!

Robbin Voight is a 30 year veteran of the plantscape industry. Her company, Interior Gardens, is located in Austin, Texas. Robbin is a registered Green Plants for Green Buildings trainer looking forward to presenting the accredited Advanced Living Walls continuing education course and The Economics of Biophilic Design to architects & interior designers across North America.

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