By Bruce Cathcart

Many years ago I had a real taskmaster for a stepdad. Being the “Tom Sawyer of fence painting” type of kid, he would always say to me, “give a lazy man a job and he will find the easiest way out of it!” The good thing about holiday home traditions is that that by definition they involve doing the same thing year after year. Having the bah humbug attitude this time of year is not an option, especially if you have children at home or a spouse that starts singing Christmas carols the day after Halloween. So this week I thought I would share with all of you my years of experience of finding the easiest way to accomplish a few of my own holiday home decorating traditions with the hope that they will save you time, money and stress.

Hanging outdoor Christmas lights has to be the most time consuming and least favorite of all of my holiday decorating traditions. It turns out that there are actually companies out there that will do this job for you. Unfortunately, I’m too cheap to pay for such a luxury so instead I try to make the job as easy as possible each year. I use little metal cup hooks that are readily available at any hardware store and easily screwed into the fascia board or rafter tails to hang the lights around the outside of the house. I install the cup hooks only once, about two feet apart and never remove them. Now it takes hardly any time at all to hang the lights up. In addition, I highly recommend that the next time you have an electrician out to your house that you offer him a few extra bucks to install an outdoor plug at the top of your exterior house wall where you start your string of lights. This will save you the hassle of first locating an extension cord and then stringing it down the wall, around the house, across the patio and into the garage through the vent.

The tree is the next big issue to deal with and it begins with just picking one out. When I was very young it was our family tradition not to get our tree until Christmas Eve. We would go down to the railroad yard in Los Angeles and make a whole day of getting the tree and decorating it just in time for Santa to show up. It wasn’t until many years later that I discovered that they gave away all the trees they couldn’t sell for free on Christmas Eve and that is why my Dad waited until then to get our tree! Today we go up to the Live Oak Canyon Christmas Tree Farm and pick our tree “blind”. Instead of spending hours trying to choose between seemingly identical, perfect trees, it is our tradition to pick one still wrapped up in twine and surprise ourselves at the unveiling when we get it home and set up in the living room. The real surprise is that every year we end up with a perfect tree in half the time. It is also easier to transport, install in its base, and set up in the house. I have yet to find the perfect artificial tree that can be folded up with all the lights and ornaments on it and stored in the attic without it looking like Charlie Brown’s tree a year later when it is time to set it up again. With new technology each year I am sure that day is coming, but until then there will likely be a real tree in our house.


Hanging the holiday wreath on the front door seems like it would be an easy task of just driving a nail about two thirds up and half way across the door… unless of course you have a metal or glass door, or are just renting your home and want your security deposit back. Even if you have a wooden door I discovered a few years ago the metal wreath hangers that simply slip over the top of the door and allow you to easily hang just about any size or type wreath your spouse can buy or make. In my house we have a wreath on just about every door (inside and out!) so this is a real door and time saver. Just Google “wreath hanger” to see what I am talking about here. The real secret is to store the wreath and the hanger together after the holidays are over.

In fact the real secret to making holiday home decorating traditions easier is proper storage. Go to Lowes or Home Depot and pick yourself up several red and green plastic storage boxes this year and label the outside of them as you pack your displays and other treasures away after the holidays. There are reels for light strings and special boxes for ornaments. Make this your “after holiday” tradition and next year you will be glad you did! Happy Holidays!

Real Estate Tip of the week: The two weeks at Christmas and New Years are a great time to negotiate and purchase a home. There is much less competition and people are generally in good spirits often making negotiations a little easier. Take advantage of this opportunity if you can.

Bruce Cathcart is the Broker/Co-Owner of La Quinta Palms Realty, “Your Friendly Professionals” and can be reached by email at or visit his website at