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Decorating Rental Homes During the Holidays

The holidays are a special time of year. Everywhere you go, holiday music is playing in the background amid lights, brightly-colored baubles, nativities, and garlands adorned on homes and businesses. The smell of peppermint, cinnamon, or gingerbread lightly scents the air. Even the natural environment exudes holiday spirit in the form of snow blankets settling on trees. These sensory encounters add to the “most wonderful time of the year” feeling, and your home should be no exception.

If you are renting this holiday season, you still want to bring that same festive spirit home. Don’t be discouraged by your rental space—you can decorate without sacrificing your security deposit or your holiday spirit.

Here are some tips to help decorate your rental with the confidence of a homeowner.

Check your Lease

Before we start diving into our list of recommendations, we want to remind you to check your lease agreement. 

If there are certain things that your landlord does not allow, they may have been listed in your rental agreement. Your lease will also outline the condition that your rental should be in when you move out. This will help provide a sense of what you can and cannot do. 

Keep in mind that your lease agreement will only cover some of the possibilities for your rental space. If it is ambiguous or you are uncertain, ask. Landlords appreciate when renters ask permission upfront. It allows both of you to discuss expectations and come to an agreement for the least amount of confusion.

Consider if the decorations will change the state of the space. If so, ask permission first. A good example is painting a wall. 

Once an agreement is reached, we recommend you get it in writing. This allows both parties to see exactly what was agreed upon and what needs to be done to restore the space, if anything, before moving out.

What Can I Do to Decorate for the Holidays?

Decorate your Existing Space 

This includes using freestanding decorations, which are any type of decoration that does not require additional support. Instead, the decorations are placed on the floor, couch, coffee table, bookcase, windowsill, mantle, porch, side table, dresser, kitchen counter, or any flat surface. 

This also includes decorations you can hang on existing support structures in your home. Examples include towel racks, curtain rods, staircase railings, door knobs, and more.

With these options, the decoration possibilities are limitless. Consider the following ideas:

  • Battery-operated fairy lights
  • Battery-powered LED candles
  • Baskets with baubles, pinecones, or other holiday-themed items
  • Bowls filled with holiday treats
  • Ceramics or glassware filled with artificial pine tree boughs or wrapped in garland
  • Christmas trees
  • Colored candles in candlesticks
  • Colorful or white lights
  • Flameless tea lights
  • Holiday-scented soap in the bathroom and kitchen
  • Holiday-shaped cookie jars
  • Holiday-themed blankets or decorative pillows
  • Holiday-themed decorations (e.g., nativities, nutcrackers, reindeer, Santa figures, snowmen, and more) 
  • Holiday-themed doormats
  • Holiday-themed table runners or chair ribbons
  • Holiday-themed towels and bathmats
  • Holiday wrapping paper-covered boxes or containers
  • Inflatable lawn decorations
  • Mantle hooks to hang stockings
  • Photo frames filled with family memories or holiday scenes
  • Potted greenery wrapped in lights
  • Poinsettias
  • Seasonal bedding
  • Seasonal shower curtains
  • Vases filled with artificial holiday bouquets

Hang Decorations with Care

The ability to hang decorations has come a long way over the years. You no longer have to rely only on nails and a hammer. Nowadays, all sorts of temporary hanging mechanisms are available to use. This is great when you are living in a rental space.

If you are going to use nails in the walls, be cautious and ensure you have read your lease agreement about their use. Nails put permanent holes in walls. You may be required to spackle the holes and touch up the walls before moving out.

Here are other ways to hang your holiday decorations:

Removable Adhesive Hangers

These hangers were created to provide a strong bond between the hanger and the wall while making the adhesive easy to remove when it is no longer needed. Also, the adhesive does not leave behind a sticky residue.

3M Command™ is a popular brand that you can find in most stores. They come in a variety of options, including clips, hooks, and velcro strips. The packaging will list the weight capacity. Make sure you select the right option based on what you want to hang. 

When hanging or removing the adhesive hangers, follow the directions on the package. This will help ensure that everything sticks properly. Also, when you remove them, you do it without causing any damage.

Fishing Line

Depending on what you want to hang, you might be able to use a fishing line. Fishing line is an excellent solution because the line is less visible than string or wire. Just make sure you pay attention to the line’s weight and stretch based on your project. 

You can use it to hang or secure garlands, lights, and wreaths from staircase railings and screen doors. You can even hang lightweight objects like Christmas ornaments from light fixtures or curtain rods. 

Over-the-door Hangers

This is an excellent option if you want to hang a wreath or other decorations on any inside or outside door. However, we recommend that you use caution. If the wrong hanger is used or not used properly, it can damage the door, doorframe, or weatherstripping.

Choose an over-the-door hanger with padding, or make sure there is plenty of clearance when the door is closed. Do not force the door shut, as this may damage the door frame and door. 

If you cannot find a door hanger, consider using a fishing line. You can hang a wreath by looping the line through the back of the wreath. Then, attach the ends of the line to the top corners of the door.

Suction Cup Hooks

These allow you to easily hang lightweight objects from smooth surfaces, such as mirrors, tiles, and windows. They can be used indoors and outdoors. And when it comes time to remove them, they’ll pop right off.

As with the other hanging methods, choose the right one based on what you want to hang— take the time to prep the surface to ensure a secure attachment. 

Light and Siding Clips

Decorating the outside can be just as important as decorating the inside. Some options already mentioned can be used to help secure outdoor decorations to existing support structures. Two other possible options are light clips and siding clips.

Light clips allow you to use the gutter or roof structure to attach outdoor lights to your home. After being clipped to the house, slip the light string in to secure them in place. When done, unclip the lights and remove the clip.

Siding clips are very similar, except that they attach to your home's siding. They slide into the seam between the siding. This allows you to hang lights, signs, wreaths, and more to decorate the side of your house. The clips easily slide out when you are ready to take everything down. Other types of clasps are available if you do not have siding. 

Look Beyond the Visual

As you decorate your home, consider the sense of smell. Bringing the right fragrance into your space can be just as welcoming as the music and lights.

If you are going to use real scented candles, use caution. Container candles are better to use than candlestick candles as they are less likely to be knocked over. Only use candles on flat surfaces away from hazardous materials, like curtains, and in places where they will not be bumped. Also, do not leave them unattended when you go to bed or leave the space.

Plug-in air fresheners and diffusers are also great options for creating an inviting holiday scent. You can buy different fragrances that you can easily swap out during the holiday season, and when the holidays are over, you can switch to using your other favorite smells.

In addition to using artificial smells, you can create your own holiday scent using your stovetop or crockpot. Put water in a pot with your favorite mixture of aromatics. Bring it to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer. Aromatics to consider are apple peels, cranberries, cloves, cinnamon sticks, ginger, lemon rinds, nutmeg, orange rinds, pear skins, pine, pumpkin spice seasoning, rosemary, star anise, and vanilla. You can also use essential oils if you have them on hand. Try different combinations to find the one you like best.

What Shouldn’t I Do When Decorating for the Holidays?

Luckily, the list of things you should not do is relatively short and mostly common sense. You will see that many of these help you avoid electrical or fire hazards. 

Here are things we recommend that you not do while holiday decorating:

  • Creating a tripping hazard with anything you put on the floor, including power cords.
  • Letting real trees or greenery dry out.
  • Overloading your power strip or wall outlet.
  • Placing candles or hot lights near flammable fabric. 
  • Using indoor lights or extension cords in an outdoor space.
  • Using nails or screws in-doors, door frames, wood cabinets, siding, or any other place that cannot be easily spackled or fixed. 
  • Using tape as it leaves behind a sticky residue and can damage walls and other surfaces when you remove it.

Now, all that’s left to do is to decorate. We hope you find these recommendations helpful as you transform your rental into your winter wonderland this holiday season. 

If you still have questions regarding general rental agreements, lease restrictions, or otherwise, Rooftop Rentals can help. Get in touch with us to learn more about rental units this holiday season.

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