Several years ago I staged a vacant home in the summer. It wasn't selling for a variety of reasons, which I duly mentioned to the sellers. As Christmas time was approaching, I decided to decorate it for the holidays. I put up a small tree, hung stockings from the mantlepiece, placed red candles and pine branches on the table, and placed a Christmas wreath on the door. It sold just before Christmas. I really believe the decorations helped to make the house seem homey and warm; it appealed to the buyer's emotions.
But what I added was simple. In an occupied home, sellers need to be careful when decorating for the holidays. They can go overboard and create so many distractions that buyers miss the bones of the house. When the home is on the market, keeping the holiday decor down to a minimum of the tree, mantlepiece, door, and perhaps a centerpiece on the dining room table helps give a warm, homey glow to the house without overpowering the buyers. Hopefully Realtors can suggest this before all the Santa collections, trainsets, dollhouses, and garlands get dragged out. It is much easier to give the guidance beforehand, rather than having to become the bad guy after everything is brought out from storage and put on display all over the house.