Deck your second home with boughs of holly

Companies that do the decorating for you

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Matt Johnston feels like there is a bright future in holiday decorating. His company, Christmas Decor, will give your home that holiday touch, then take down and store the lights after the holiday season.

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Martin Aragon Soto places a wreath on a home in Steamboat Springs. Aragon Soto works for Christmas Decor, a company that specializes in making sure your home is ready for the holidays.

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Making sure your home looks great for the holidays is part of Lindsey Grannis' business.

Early every December, Lindsey Grannis stuffs more than 100 poinsettias into her living and dining rooms. Not long after she stashes as many as 14 Christmas trees in a snow bank in her front yard.

She doesn't dare let the holidays sneak up on her.

Grannis is the proprietor of One Fine Day Productions and has developed a profitable business niche decorating luxury homes for the holidays.

"Most of the clients I have own homes in Catamount and The Sanctuary," Grannis said. "Every single one I do is a second home."

She knows that when vacation homeowners fly into Yampa Valley Regional Airport for a two-week stay in late December, they have neither the time nor the inclination to decorate their second home.

Instead, first-time clients pay between $3,000 and $4,000 for Grannis to decorate the entryway with garlands, festoon the mantle with swags, put up the tree and string the lights. Depending on a client's preference, she will trim the tree or leave a large selection of heirloom glass ornaments set out for families to hang together.

The price goes down substantially for repeat clients. However, many clients order floral centerpieces separately and change their mantle displays, for example, every two or three years.

Grannis does all the work herself, usually spending at least eight hours on each home. She goes to great lengths, winding strings of lights in a spiral pattern down each branch of the tree. The end result is a 14-foot Christmas tree that glows with as many as 3,000 lights.

One Fine Day Productions is a floral and gift shop specializing in weddings. However, by November, Grannis has completely transformed her shop at 1104 Lincoln Ave. into a holiday specialty store.

Matt Johnston of Christmas Decor is also in the business of decorating homes for the holidays.

But instead of focusing on the warm interiors of high-end homes, he and his crews string thousands of lights from outdoor trees and rooflines. If you were hoping for a plastic Santa and his reindeer, you've come to the wrong place.

If you've always admired Clark Griswold in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," this could be the program for you.

The majority of our clients are second-home owners," Johnston said. "We provide everything, the lights, the knowledge the ladders - we own the lights."

Johnston uses Christmas Decor to keep employees in his landscaping and lawn irrigation businesses busy. By mid-October, they are in full push.

"You've got to have a system in place, for sure," Johnston said. His business is a franchise that provides business owners with systems for tracking and maintaining giant strings of lights.

Johnston uses architectural drawings to label every ridgeline and every window in a home with a code that matches a string of lights.

However, the biggest challenge can be harsh working conditions.

"It gets rough at times," he said. "It definitely does. It's cold and nasty out. It's not fun."

Even if the work isn't fun, Johnston said it is rewarding when homeowners are thrilled with their brightly lit homes.

"That's the best part - they praise us all the time," he said. "In this business, everyone is happy."

Christmas Decor's typical client spends between $2,000 and $2,500 each season to decorate their home's exterior for the holidays.

Clients who want to go all out, "sky's the limit," can spend as much as $7,000. But before they go to extremes, clients must have an electrician stop by to install separate circuit breakers.

Just as Johnston doesn't do plastic Santas, Grannis doesn't do Western kitsch.

"Everything's high-end," she said. "We use silks and hand-painted glass ornaments form Poland. All of my trees are fresh."

When the holidays arrive, the finest homes in Steamboat will sparkle with professionally executed decorations.

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