Christmas Questions: Money and Time?

Now that it’s all over and we spent the weekend putting it all away. Frankly it takes just as long to take down and carefully pack away as it does to set up. That’s partly because we have some delicate and expensive ornaments and decorations. And then there are the people who do the fancy outdoor displays.

I have some questions for everyone:

  1. How long does it take for you to set up your house for Christmas?

  2. How long does it take to take it all down and put away?

  3. If your like us and have some antique ornaments and decorations, how much money’s worth of decorations and ornaments do you think you have?

  4. Do you do a big outdoor display? If so how long does it take to set up, then take down and how much space does it take to store it all?

  1. Best case, like this year, zero. Didn’t do a damn thing. Bliss. Worst case, about a day to get a tree and put crap on it.
  2. Half a day.
  3. Maybe $1,000, mostly lights and a Christmas village.
  4. Never.

520 sq ft apartment in a Chicago high rise

  1. 30 minutes

  2. 30 minutes

  3. Less than $100

  4. Apartment building does some displays, but that’s their work, not mine.

  1. Excluding the cleaning involved, and, I assume baking, I’m going say about 4hrs tops!

  2. 2-3 hrs. (But the gifts are probably still lying about, and being toyed with, it could take a week for them to all find spots!)

  3. A couple of hundred dollars, no more.

  4. No. I string a garland with 3 leg red bows, on existing hooks under the porch window frame.

EVERYTHING involved, stores in three or four containers, and go up into the walk in attic.

(I have to confess though, a few years back, I grew weary of setting up the same tree and ornaments every year. So I took the time to wire the lights on, the ornaments, even the tinsel. Then I made a big sack for it. And life got a lot easier! The space it’s stored in is tall enough and easily accessible!)

  1. The amount of time it takes to say “yes, my children, you may put up the Christmas Tree”

  2. The amount of time it takes to say “By the way, today’s the day I want the Christmas tree down again”. Plus “Oh my delightful children - it appears there is still a Christmas Tree in the living room. You are aware that there will be no computers until it’s gone, right?”

  3. Couldn’t get 2 cents for the lot of it on ebay. I think we once bought a couple of extra strings of tinsel to add to the handme-downs. Might have been some time in the twentieth-century.

  4. Shudder Not on a bet

  1. Probably 6-8 hours of time, between my wife and myself. Two Christmas trees – the main one, and the smaller “Geek Tree”, with my Star Wars and Star Trek ornaments – plus a Department 56 ceramic village, and various other decorations in the house.

  2. A similar amount of time.

  3. We have some Depression-era ornaments which my wife inherited from her grandmother, the nerdy ornaments (some of which are worth a fair amount on the collectors’ market), a dozen Department 56 buildings, and lots of other stuff. Undoubtedly worth a few thousand dollars, gradually accumulated over 25 years of marriage.

  4. No outdoor display, mostly because our house (a 1928 Chicago-style bungalow) has no exterior power outlets. If the weather cooperates (which it didn’t this year), I’ll string some lights along the fence that runs along the side of the house (facing a street), and plug that into an outlet in the garage.

  1. Zero.
  2. Zero.

We have a beautiful artificial tree with 1100 lights and many ornaments, no two alike. It was such a PITA to get it set up and taken down the first year, that we just leave it up now, plugging in the lights only during the holidays. We both like Christmas trees, so we get to enjoy it all year. And the kittehs like to lie under it.

  1. A couple thousand, mostly in hand-blown glass ornaments.
  2. Nothing outdoors.


I used to have a big tree and a couple hours’ worth of setup & teardown. Used to pay a guy to hang a 300 feet of lights around the outside of the big house then take them down again.

Now our building takes care of the outside decs. Although they’re pretty minimalist too. Much nicer for me/us.

  1. How long does it take for you to set up your house for Christmas?

Previously, half a day. This year, as part of taking-down, I am clicking the (half nonfunctioning) lights off our prelit tree, so next year I’ll have to put lights on the tree. That will take it into a full work day to get the decorations up.

  1. How long does it take to take it all down and put away?

See above. Same lengths of time.

  1. If your like us and have some antique ornaments and decorations, how much money’s worth of decorations and ornaments do you think you have?

We have no antiques. I gave eight dozen vintage German glass ornaments back to my inlaws when I realized I had cheap taste and wanted new stuff.

  1. Do you do a big outdoor display? If so how long does it take to set up, then take down and how much space does it take to store it all?

We don’t. Our house is completely hidden from the road and neither of us wants to get on a ladder anyway.

  1. Around 72 hours. We host my family for an xmas eve get-together, and my gf loves decorating. She takes three extra days off from work and spends time collecting freshly cut greenery (holly, evergreens, etc) and making arrangements. She decorates the exterior of the barn as well. I’m not very artistic, so I spend those days out partying with our friends, apologizing for gf’s absence.

  2. It takes a couple days to de-decorate. The greenery gets composted, decorations put away in the scary attic, leaf removed from the dining room table, etc. We traditionally combine all this with a general cleaning up of the garage, etc, culminating in a big bonfire.

  3. All the decorations (other than flower/greenery arrangements) are old family heirlooms. Value? Irreplaceable/priceless.

  4. I set up the outdoor display. Just a bunch of spotlights (8?) strategically placed to highlight specimen trees, shrubs, the eve over the front porch, etc. It’s beautiful, even though I just sorta randomly aim the lights. The outdoor lights are on timers, but traditionally I have to tweak the settings nightly and get things perfect the day before tearing it all down. My lights, cords, timers, etc all get packed away into two large Rubbermaid totes.

A day or so. If it were up to me, I’d thumbtack a picture of a tree to the wall and call it done. But SWMBO wants the tree, lights, etc., so…

About the same. I should point out that SWMBO does most of it. I only do the hard stuff, like hanging the crappy outdoor lights.

Can’t really put a dollar value on it. Sentimental value, buckets full. SWMBO has some ornaments that belonged to her grandparents.

No. The jerks down the street hire people to come put that crap up and take it down. It literally crosses the street. I have no idea how much money they waste on it every year.

  1. how long to set up: about four solid hours if it is just me. I go into it with a plan and I work focused and fast. It ends up taking longer because now my daughter really likes to help (she’s five) so I will slow it down to let her do things at her own pace, or spread decorating out over a few evenings so that she can do the nativity one night before bed, the Christmas village one night, etc.

  2. how long to take down: also about four hours.

  3. money’s worth: in terms of what I’ve put into it over the years, maybe a couple hundred. A lot of the decorations are from my family, so no direct cost to me. In terms of what I could get for it, not much. I have plenty that are vintage – a small number from the 1930s, more from the 1950s and 60s which are really cute and I get a kick out of them – but I doubt there’s any particular market for them.

  4. outside: literally only a wreath on the door. I do the (battery operated) candle in each window, which covers the exterior appearance.

  1. A couple weeks of an hour or so each weekday, and a few hours on weekend days. Wife is a Christmas fanatic, and she decorates every room of the house.

  2. A few weeks. She’s also an OCD clean freak, so every. single. item. gets dusted/cleaned before it’s put back in it’s box/bin.

  3. We’ve probably *spent *several thousand over the 24 years we’ve been together; it’s probably *worth *several hundred at best if we were to sell it all. Lots of sentimental value, though - can’t put a price tag on that.

  4. The scale of our outdoor decorating has varied over the years, loosely based on weather, my moods, my employment situation, and whether the extension ladder has tried to kill me that year. This year I put up four small lighted wreaths on the living room windows and front & back doors, and two small inflatables for my daughter; an Olaf and a Minion. In years past I put up strings of lights along the roofline of the house, and a large lighted wreath on the 2nd story dormer. We also had a herd of the lighted reindeer that were all the rage a decade or so ago, but they all eventually died of “natural causes”. I also once had an inflatable helicopter, with a couple light strings set up as a properly-marked helipad. It blew away in high winds a few years ago…

Storing it all uses a fair-sized chunk of basement real estate. But it does look very pretty while it’s up, and it makes her very happy, so I bite my tongue and go with it.
Looks like I’m the minority in this group…

Thirteen years ago, I pulled out all of our decorations, started to assemble the tree, and decided - no. I put it all away. Over the years, I gave everything away, giving my daughter first choice, of course. The last thing to go this year was the tree - I kept forgetting to take it to the thrift store before Christmas.

It’s all gone. I don’t miss it. No one comes to our house over the holidays, so why bother? It’s made the holidays so much more tolerable. So, no time, no money.

  1. Dad and son get a real tree at the hardware store and carry it down the street: 1 hour. Setting up and decorating the tree: another hour. No further decorations. Worth of ornaments: under 10 bucks.

I’m getting close to this because we don’t have visitors either. I still put up a (fake) tree about ever other year, and most of my decorations come from our quilt guild ornament swap. Some of the others have sentimental value.

When I do set up it, it’s maybe an hour or two to set up and to take down.

In the next room, my father sets up his tabletop tree and all kinds of other figurines and stuff, and we have the Advent calendar every year, so I get some decorations to look at, just not always my own.