Holiday Installs: 5 Tips for Taking Them Down

If you recently added holiday installs to your interiorscape services, you may have discovered it’s not as simple as it seems. Let’s say, you got through the first part —getting all your displays installed. Now, it’s time to figure out how to get every item removed and stored until next year. One mistake I made when I first started was not figuring in the extra labor cost of the design take down.

The good thing about removing holiday installs is that it takes much less time and man power than setting up. So, if you did forget to add in that extra labor cost, at least it won’t be as detrimental. It’s also important to consider any additional storage expenses when submitting holiday installation quotes. When I first started, I was able to keep all my seasonal displays in a back room. As my clientele expanded, I had to lease storage units which quickly added up to several thousand dollars a year.

One thing I can’t stress enough is that organization during the removal phase will result in less costly mistakes next year. Here are five tips that will help you survive the holiday installation removal phase.

1. Invest in Clear Containers

Using transparent containers or plastic bags will save you many headaches. When I started offering holiday installs, this isn’t something I thought about and purchased containers purely based on price. Then, when it came time to find a certain item in stacked storage bins piled four to six high, it was a lot of physical stress moving containers around just to pop the lid off and see what was inside.

2. Create Detailed Labels

When your crew arrives on the scene ready to remove all the seasonal items, it’s a natural desire to get it done as quickly as possible. In the beginning, this meant throwing it in bags, stuffing those in plastic bins, loading the bins up, and then stacking it all away in a dark corner until next year. At that time, I could remember which wreaths, garland, trees, etc. went to what company and their exact location. After I started to acquire more than a few seasonal accounts, I would spend far too much time wondering if that bag of garland was for a lobby in ABC’s building or did it belong on XYZ’s staircase?

appreciate your interiorscape holiday install take down team

To save myself hours of stress (and money), I make sure when removing decoration to attach a detailed label stating what building, room, and floor the item came from. For example, if XYZ company had garland swagged along a staircase, I would label the box or bag:

Swagged Garland/XYZ building/1st Fl staircase/Left side facing stairwell

Note: Marking left or right side is important if the lengths are different. This will save labor and material so you’re not cutting and reattaching sections.

3. Don’t Remove Ornaments

Recently, I acquired a holiday account that is strictly labor —setting up and taking down the client’s own holiday design decorations. Everything was to be removed from the trees, placed neatly in boxes, and labeled well. It takes an enormous amount of time to separate every ornament into a container. Since the client sticks with the same design each year, I found that the entire set-up and tear-down time can be halved by leaving decorations on their massive tree.

Don’t waste your time on wreaths and trees that don’t need to come apart. You can wrap them with stretch or shrink wrap, which can be purchased for around $25 for a 20” x 1000’ roll. This protects the tree from dust and holds the delicate ornaments in place for next year. So when the holidays roll around again, you can simply remove the plastic, make a few adjustments, and the tree is ready to go.

4. Take Photos of your Holiday Installs

When I first started, there weren’t smart phones with awesome cameras that can take panoramic pictures or videos. I still have some of those blurry photographs of my first jobs and wonder how those years passed by so fast. Taking a moment to document every display will be exceptionally helpful. Was this garland swagged or did it hang straight? Did this tree need presents under it instead of a skirt? Where did the poinsettias go? It’s details like this that will make your job so much better when you can refer back to a picture.

a large office area with holiday install decorations

5. Hire Seasonal Holiday Design Staff

A majority of my holiday installation crew are just that —seasonal. They help out for those couple of months during the holidays. Finding people willing to give up their important family or vacation time is challenging. Making the work enjoyable and sharing the financial rewards will help bond them to you and your company. Creating a loyal seasonal crew is invaluable. When they know the accounts and how displays should look, you don’t have to kill yourself trying to do it all yourself.

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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