Paying to decorate

J.T. Luginski has had it with putting up — and taking down — holiday lights and decorations.
MCT Wire
Dec 21, 2013

“I’ve always celebrated Christmas with the family,” the 33-year-old father said this week, recalling how growing up his dad would put up the holiday lights each year. “But it became harder to find the time to do the decorating myself — and, honestly, a professional can do a better job.”

So, last year, Luginski ended the holiday decorating tradition and hired Michigan Holiday Lighting to cover his 3,500-square-foot brick colonial in Clarkston, north of Detroit, with thousands of white lights — and is paying them about $1,700 to do it again his year.

The trend is driven by busier family schedules, changing attitudes about holiday decorating and enterprising businesses — including landscapers, florists and interior designers — that have seized an opportunity to make money.

When Indianapolis-based online referral service Angie’s List started tracking holiday decorators in 1990, it identified just 42 nationally. This year, it said, there are 7,073 nationwide.

“There’s a lot of pain when you do decorate yourself,” said Brandon Stephens, president of Texas-based Christmas Decor. “But when you hire someone, you get someone who is trained, who knows the newest products and the newest designs.”

Companies charge anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars to decorate for homeowners. And in many cases the lights are leased and stored by the holiday decorator.

Christmas Decor, which was a lawn care business that started offering holiday decorating in 1986 as a way to offset the lull in the winter, ended up shedding the lawn care business to focus on decorating full-time and selling franchises.

The company now has $55 million in annual sales with about 370 operations nationwide.

Alex Grougan, the owner of Holiday Light Express in Novi, said his business has exploded since he started it six years ago as a way to expand his lawn care business. A few homeowners — mostly in upscale neighborhoods — even paid him to decorate the inside of their homes, with Christmas trees and fresh garland.

Florists have also found a growing demand for holiday decorating.

“We’ve got more and more members who go to houses and create a special environment for the holidays,” said Rodney Crittenden, executive vice president of the Michigan Floral Association in Haslett. “It could be to put up a fully decorated tree — or just some wreaths and plants.”

Steve Erdodi, the owner of Michigan Holiday Lighting in Waterford, said most of his residential customers aim to have their decorations up by Thanksgiving, but a few customers were still calling last week.

“A lot of people intend to do it themselves,” said Erdodi, 52. “But when they find out it’s zero every weekend, they call.”

In addition to holiday decorating, Erdodi said he also offers landscaping, snow removal and asphalt repair, and rents tents for parties. But decorating, he said, makes up about 40 percent of his annual revenue — more than any of the other businesses.

He said many of his customers hire him because they don’t want to slip off an icy roof or ladder, a real problem for many homeowners. In 2010 alone, an estimated 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms nationwide for holiday decorating mishaps, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“There was a time I looked forward to putting up the lights,” said Luginski, who works in digital marketing. “But with three kids and busy hours at work, it has become a trade-off.”

Still, not everyone in Luginski’s family is happy about outsourcing the decorating. Luginski said his father gives him a hard time about it, going into a nostalgic talk about how he would do it in his day. But, Luginski said, he’ll probably do the same thing during the holidays with something else with his own kids when they grow up.

That’s one holiday family tradition that perhaps never changes.

— By Frank Witsil, Detroit Free Press (MCT)

Comments

LessThanAmused

Well, you know what Forrest would say about this right???

Sandypants

"Less should get a life"?

LessThanAmused

Whats a matter sweetie, couldn't find a date for tonight?

I'm home babysitting the granddaughter, what's your excuse?

SignalMaintainer

Laziness, plain and simple.

deuce liti

Act now and with each new purchase you get your very own golden idol to worship.

No time to worship your false god? For a limited time only you can have someone do it for you for only $1,200.00! That's right you can have someone decorate AND pay it homage for the low price of $2,800. All budgets to fit your busy life styles!

-malignant face-

LessThanAmused

LOL! Perfect. A malignant face emoticon. What exactly would that look like anyhow...?

Lani, any ideas?

deuce liti

0$0

See, the dollar sign would represent the terminal fate of materialism. Or maybe something with a heart?

Lanivan

*<<<<<+ (Christmas Tree) $___$ (sees money) :'_( (cries)

X-C (malignant face)

Put in whichever order you prefer.

LessThanAmused

I like this one. X-C Next time you see it that's what it'll mean, credit going to deuce of course for the inspiration.

papa bear

Wow people have gotten really lazy

BanjoPicker

$1700 for that service?

SignalMaintainer

I will gladly decorate houses for all holidays for that price. Any takers?

LessThanAmused

I thought the same thing when I read this SM. Plus, I got experience! I did the whole house up for years when the kids were little. Now, I'm not so sure I want to be dangling off the side of a ladder, hanging lights.

Oh, I'm keeping a good thought for you and the job search too...been there done that also and it's NO fun. I spent most of the last 4 years sending out resumes until I just said screw it and retired. I'm going back to making extra cash with my cameras, hopefully.

SignalMaintainer

Thanks for the thoughts, every bit helps! It is getting quite depressing though. Like I have said before, I have NEVER had the slightest issue getting a decent job until now.

I have given serious thought into just creating my own business designing and building custom, luxury commuting/touring bicycles, but I am not sure if I have all the marketing/business know-how to pull off a business like that successfully. I am in the process of building my new ride though. I should really be saving the cash and just give up on cycling due to the fact that we will be flirting with homelessness in about 2.5 months when the savings runs out due to congress killing EUC, but the insurance company demands receipts for the new build so I am forced into it. I may just build it, turn in receipts, get my reimbursement (they capped it at $5,600), and then sell it so we can have a roof over our heads a bit longer (and hopefully land a job by then). Either way though, it is a NICE looking bike and I will post photos as soon as it is done.

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