Angie’s List: Hiring help for holiday decorations

Thanksgiving is over, and now it is time to focus on Christmas.

Trimming the tree and decorating the home are some of the most enjoyable traditions of the holiday season, but there are many homeowners who just don’t have the time to get tangled up in the lights or grapple with a ladder. A hectic family schedule can also make it hard to find time for decorating.

“The holidays can be very stressful as it is, so bringing in someone that can help you hang holiday lights that checks one more thing off your to-do list,” says Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “Also, they are going to have the right equipment and be able to do it a lot more efficiently than you’ll be able to do it yourself.”

It is a growing trend in this country, and while you may be able to handle the decorations indoors it may not be a bad idea to let someone else handle the big stuff outside.

“Believe it or not, there are companies that will hang exterior holiday decorations. Whether it be handymen, landscapers, even roofers – these companies are typically less busy during the holidays and have the equipment necessary to hang the lights properly,” says Hicks.

So how much will it cost?

A lot of it depends whether you want them to simply hang your decorations, or create an entirely new look with new lighting and decorations.

“There are a few things that go into it. Of course, you have your basic material costs depending on our design that we decide to do that will determine how much we need for each item,” says Paul Evan, who owns a landscaping company.

And whoever you hire, make sure you are covered if they get hurt while hanging your decorations.

“You’re going to want to find a company that has done holiday decorations before. A lot of handyman, for example, or landscaper, might have built it into a business. Be sure they have the right equipment and that they are insured,” says Hicks. “You want to make sure their employees have workers comp insurance, so if someone gets hurt on your property it doesn’t go against your homeowner’s insurance.”

You should also ask if you will need to be home during installation. Generally the company will need access to your home’s power sources. Also, check if your display will be on automatic timer, or if you’ll have to manually plug in the display.

Additional Information:

Here are Angie's List 8 do's of decorating...
1. Why hire help? Every year the holiday decorations get more extravagant and houses these days have more difficult roof lines so it's challenging to hang the lights and decorations yourself.

2. Check rules and regulations: If you belong to a homeowner's association, ask what decorations are allowed to be added to your home's exterior before you hire.

3. Call early in the season to get scheduled: Meet in person and share ideas so no one is surprised or disappointed by the final design. Ask to see photos of other homes they've decorated to make sure their designs are in line with the style you want. How creative do you want to get? Do you want a theme with your decorations or remain traditional?

4. Is the company qualified? The holiday decorating company will likely access your roof to hang lights- check that the decorator is insured to protect against any falls or accidents - otherwise it falls back on the homeowner.

5. Ask about costs: How do they determine the price - by square foot or by the hour? Don't forget to ask about the cost of materials- are you required to purchase the company's lights/decorations - or will they hang your pre-existing decorations?

6. Installation process: Ask if you'll be required to be home during installation. Generally, the company will need access to your home's power sources. Check if your display will be on an automatic timer, or if you'll have to manually plug in the display.

7. What is your timeline? Figure out when you'd like the house decorated by and for how long? Some people want to flip the switch right after Thanksgiving and keep the lights up through January; others are just looking for a couple weeks.

8. What's their maintenance policy? If a bulb or timer goes out, do they have staff available to return to your home and fix/repair the decorations?

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