Does Religious Decor During the Holidays Really Offend Buyers?

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

iStock_000004872286XSmall-1‘Tis the season to decorate. I was overwhelmed at the response from Styled, Staged & Sold readers who submitted ideas for tasteful holiday staging when trying to sell a home.

You can read all of the great holiday decorating tips from your peers at REALTOR® Magazine online — Add Some Holiday Charm to Your Listings.

One important item that wasn’t touched on in the article is how much religious decor should (or should not) be displayed in your holiday decorations. What do you think? Do you think it’s OK to have mini holiday displays of your sellers’ faith out when trying to sell a home? Do you really need to tell your seller that their Hanukkah menorah or nativity scene needs to be put away?

Plus, will such displays really offend a buyer — aren’t they there to view a house, after all, not evaluate the decorations?

Chime in with your thoughts and take our poll below.


Do you think it’s OK to display religious decor during the holidays when trying to sell a home?survey software

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. I do think people are respectful of other peoples’ religions, and when the holiday season comes around, I think people expect to see seasonal displays, religious or otherwise.

  2. Derrick

    Over-decoration, of any sort, can turn-off Buyers, but religious views are deeply personal and people should feel free to express their beliefs.
    Buyers need to remember that they are at the property to view the property itself, not the holiday decor, furniture, or pictures.
    Too many people these days are easily offended. Let them be offended. There is no reason a person should “dance” around other people’s liberal sensitivities.

  3. I think there are times when the focus should be on the holiday the family and not worry about staging. Christmas and Hanukkah are joyous holidays and should be respected as such. Home owners should make sure the decorations are tastefully done. The smell of home baked holiday cookies are a definite plus!!!

  4. We are told all the time to de-personalize a home when presenting it for sale, to appeal to a larger percentage of buyers. The buyer needs to be able to envision themselves living there and feel at home. Not all buyers can see beyond the furniture and decorations. Religious symbols in a home at any time of the year may not offend buyers, but could cause a potential buyer to reject a home because they don’t feel comfortable there.

    The same idea applies to anything in a home that could trigger a negative emotional reaction in a significant number of buyers. Selling an occupied home is disruptive to normal family life whenever it occurs. It is just a question of what the owners are willing to do to make their home as appealing as possible to the largest number of potential buyers at the time they choose to sell.

  5. As long it’s not a detractor, there’s no need to act as if the seller doesn’t live in the home or have faith in a particular belief. I live in Wyoming and there are a large number of homes with animal heads on the walls. As long as they are in good condition and within reason, nobody would require the seller to remove them because it’s part of the sellers home. If a Vegan or animal-rights activist walked in and took offense, they have the freedom to walk right back out. Likewise, the vast majority of Americans celebrate Christmas and would not take offense to tasteful holiday decorations for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other holiday celebrated by others. There is a very small minority that takes offense at such things and I would never ask an owner to stifle their personal personal faith for such people. It’s a sad sign of the times that we’re even discussing whether it’s appropriate for people to display religious items in their own home.

  6. Brenda Aalto

    I personally appreciate having the freedom to observe the Christmas season in the form that suits my family and I. However, if I were selling my home at Christmastime I would likely rethink how far I would take any religious artifacts and decorations, in the same way as I would counsel clients to refrain from displaying a private shrine to a deceased loved one in their home.
    I think it will be one year outside of normal celebrations for them already given how having your home on the market disturbs your routine, and so would encourage the seller to minimize religious decoration, bearing in mind it is only for the current year.

  7. One more attempt to manage people choices. Christmas is for children and unless a display has a negative message either political, religious or other the display should be a personal choice of the homeowner and the display reflecting their seasonal joy. I am sick and tired of people trying to manage other peoples religious beliefs publc and private in a country that offers religous freedom. Where else in the world do people enjoy the religious freedom without persecution, without the religious bias affecting governmental process and without religious wars. No prayer in school -rediculous. Unfortunately the adults pushing this antireligious movement seem to be children that have not grown up. We waste time on these issues while our country is disintegrating.Start focusing on John Kennedy “about what can we do for our country”! I am tired of the radical few effecting their will on the majority of Americans. It is time to leafve In God We Trust on our currency and to pray to God for help while working like hell to overcome this disaster we are living in. I do not consider myself a religuous person but I am a God fearing person – I do not fear religion however.

  8. We need to remember this country was founded on religious freedom and when I see big instutions displaying nothing at christmas & easter it’s a turnoff for me and I choose to take my business elsewhere & make my own silent statement. If we all stand up and send a silent message maybe then they will hear us and get the message. And, if someone gets offended then maybe they should go back to where they came from, we do not need to tear up our foundation that we were built on. Put religion back in our goverment & schools , or we will all suffer the backlash

  9. sheila anderson

    frankly this has gone way too far. Our home is our home. If people are offended by the decorations, so be it. It is like showing someone a home and they can’t get over the paint color – if they can’t see beyond the decorations or paint color )all of which can be changed) then obviously there is something else going on. Staging homes, not being able to have pictures of your family out etc. This whole thing has been taken too far by people who think they know the business, I have been in this field for 33 years and have yet to have a client tell me they won’t buy a home because of personal photos or holiday decor. Let’s get over ourselves and do our jobs and stop overthinkinking the process.

  10. I agree with Sheila Anderson. If a home is a full-time residence, people should expect to see families getting ready to celebrate the holidays. I think we have gone a little overboard with how much we expect clients to remove before showing their home. Most families will have pictures on display throughout the home. I have been in several where family pictures are in every room in the house. To me it helps bring out the love, gives me a warm feeling and I can then picture MY family photos in their place. A home is more cold feeling without any family pictures around or any holiday decore during this tinme of year.

  11. I agree with all comments above, in particular Brad, Janis, Sheila and Phyllis who expressed my opinion exactly. Thanks,

  12. Buyers looking for a home in December are serious buyers and should fully expect to see decorated homes including religious decorations. Isn’t Christmas the celebration of Christ’s birth — of course it is a religious holiday. Give people a little more credit — buyers understand the message of the holiday as they are most likely celebrating, too.

  13. Wow, I never thought that I would see in print anywhere that people might be offended by a person’s religious freedom to express that love in one’s own home. I could not state it better than Beata Kolpek in her commentary: “Isn’t Christmas the celebration of Christ’s
    birth—of course it is a religious holiday. Give people a little more credit..buyers understand….”.

  14. If the purpose is to sell the property the rules of staging (de-personalizing) must always apply . Its nice to celebrate the season with tradition but not every one shares the same. The key is to decorate for the season not for the holidays. Fur throws, frosted tipped candles, warm colours. Think Snow flakes not Santa ; )

    Yours truly,

    The Indigo and Co.
    Interior Decor & Design

  15. Christmas is probably the one time people do take their home off the market. But for those who do not, some Holiday decor can be a plus for homes that have a rather blah appearance. However, as a professional stager, Christmas decorations should be kept at a minimum and used only to keep the home bright. Christmas is also the only time of the year that red can be mixed with any home colors and design. A home on the market at Christmas without decorations might be seen as a scrooge!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
    Annette Jordan, interior design, redesign, and home staging

  16. Keep Christ in Christmas – Christmas is a good time to sell a home – The Inventory is less, because everyone takes their home off the market… With less inventory, sellers usually get a better price….

  17. Viewed in pure dollars and cents terms, the seller’s agent may shoot himself in the foot to downgrade the value of holiday displays, and at Christmas-time most holiday displays will have some religious content. One wants to emphasize the “homeyness” of a home for sale, especially if marketing a home to families with, or likely to have, children. In the holidays a key component of “staging” a home is to emphasize how accommodating the home is to the holiday spirit and the delights of children at Christmas. Unless you are marketing to Moslems, Hindu’s, or activist athiests, only a Scrooge or an up-tight “freedom from religion” ideologue would be offended by Christmas scenes or decorations. “Deck the halls…”