Maxine White, 45, is a Christmas consultant with The Christmas Decorators in England.
She charges a minimum of £1,500 ($1,800) to decorate high-end homes for the festive season.
Despite what most people think, White is busy all year – and always thinking about Christmas.
This narrated essay is based on a conversation with Maxine White, 45, Christmas consultant at The Christmas Decorators. It has been edited for length and clarity.
I’m a professional Christmas consultant – which means I get paid to decorate other people’s homes and businesses for the holiday season.
“What do you do the rest of the year?” is a question that I am probably asked every day.
Despite what most people think, it’s a full-time job. Even in the height of summer, I think of festive garlands, lights, baubles and Christmas trees.
In January, my team and I take down all the decorations that we put up in October, November and December. We start with commercial displays, as businesses usually want to move to more seasonal decorations, and then we move on to residences.
As soon as we’re done with all the moving, the whole Christmas business begins again.
It takes a lot of planning. We organize many of our business transactions at the beginning of the year, and then we start making plans, drafting drawings and making unique decorations.
Many of our designs are bespoke, so we will spend several months building or commissioning specialist parts.
We usually start getting new calls to decorate high-end homes in September. Our customers are people who want something truly luxurious and can afford to achieve it.
I work closely with all of my clients so that I can give them exactly what they want. I will give some tips, but it all depends on them.
My minimum price to decorate a residential home is £1,500 (just over $1,800). It’s just for a standard scheme with a single tree, decorations, garlands and light displays. Our lights are commercial grade, so they’re much brighter than anything you’ll find on the high street.
My fees include all decorations, but my clients usually add their own sentimental elements.
It takes me about two hours to decorate a standard 8-foot tree, with the help of a member of my team.
I use at least 360 balls – and that’s just as a base – and people pay a lot more for more custom and elaborate displays.
After that I will honestly put anything on a tree. I hang lanterns, birdcages, feathers, flowers, mirrors and large pieces of wood. I’m always on the lookout for unique items when I walk around.
My philosophy is: if you can hang it, you can put it on a tree.
I don’t have specialized tools to decorate people’s houses. It’s just me and my hands.
Most people see holiday decorating as a personal activity you do with your kids, but everyone is different.
Some women say, “No! I don’t want the children to touch the tree!” That’s not the kind of person I am – I love it when kids get involved.
When I decorate for a family, I decorate the base of the tree myself, then I let the children put on more sentimental decorations with their parents.
This means they get the best of both worlds: a personal touch and a professional touch.
When it comes to festive decorating, there’s nothing I wouldn’t be willing to try. One Christmas day, a woman commissioned me to arrange baubles in the shape of golden lions, in honor of her husband’s racehorse – who was called Golden Lion.
This year, for example, I noticed that the color schemes were quite unusual. Jewelry colors are very popular.
I recently decorated a wonderful house in the East of England. There was an indoor slide, which we incorporated into our decorations. The lady who owned it opted for pastel shades in blue, pink and purple.
My clients all love Christmas, so they like to pull out all the stops. One of them has five Christmas trees inside her house — and they’re all completely unique to match the decor and color scheme. of each room.
I still decorate my own house too, but I have to do it early. My children and I put up our Christmas tree around November 1st. If I leave it too late, I’m tired of decorating trees, and mine won’t look as good.
I became a full-time professional Christmas decorator about five years ago. I was about to turn forty and decided it was important to find a career that I really wanted to do.
I really enjoy it, but it’s hectic. People are always calling with last minute requests and it’s hard to fit everything in because my schedule is completely full when it comes to November and December. Because it’s Christmas, you have to let a lot of things go over your head, otherwise you’ll be super stressed.
This is the perfect job for me as I have always loved Christmas and had a good eye for design. In my old job I used to renovate houses and I kept all my favorite parts of it – just with a festive touch!
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