A Home for the Holidays (And What It Costs)

Did you move into a new home this year? You would have a lot of company if you did. Spurred by low interest rates and a desire to be homeowners, Canadians have been buying homes at a brisk pace at the end of 2015. In many cases, they also have the excitement of being first-time homeowners.

Being a homeowner is a wonderful thing, but it does mean facing expenses you may never have previously considered. Sure, you might have expected to buy a lawnmower or a couch – but what about the added costs the holidays bring for a first time homeowner? After all, once you own a home you probably want to decorate it for the holidays, which will require some investment. These costs only increase if family decides they want to visit your new home over the holidays.

We thought it would be interesting to know just what the holidays are likely to cost new homeowners, so we did a little math and are happy to shed some light on homeowner holiday costs. Our verdict? Getting your house up to speed for the holidays will cost approximately $1,036.77 – a hefty figure perhaps, but a happy expenditure for many.

The Holiday Essentials

Everyone celebrates the holidays differently, and everyone has different traditions. Our list of the ‘essentials’ that homeowners need to budget for is based on a holiday celebration in Canada. To gauge prices, we checked out the online sites of major Canadian retailers, and in all cases we tried to choose mid-priced items (The prices expressed do not include taxes, which would of course vary depending on province).

1. A Christmas Tree

Although we do not have precise Canadian data on the percentage of Canadian homes that put up a tree over the holidays, we do know that in the U.S. the National Christmas Tree Association says trees grace 79 percent of U.S. households. With that in mind, it seems reasonable to assume that a new homeowner in Canada would set out to buy a Christmas tree, likely for the first time.

We think a new homeowner would likely want the biggest tree they could fit into their new home, and given that they probably have a basement to store it in, may opt for an artificial one. Home Depot has a 7 foot, pre-lit Christmas tree for $199.00 that would seem to fit the bill

Cost of pre-lit 7 foot tree: $199.00

2. A Christmas Tree Stand

Don’t’ forget the stand. If you pick up the stand at the same time as you get the tree, figure on another $22.98 .

Cost of Christmas tree stand: $22.98

3. Outdoor Lights:

Outdoor lights are a must-have for a lot of new homeowners. The sky is the limit on what you could spend, depending on whether you want to just put a string or two along the roof, or line the driveway, all the paths and throw in some lit outdoor trees and wreaths as well. If you call in a professional to do the work and deck your house with a generous supply of lights, you can easily run up a bill of $10,000 or more.
We assume that our typical homebuyer opts for a more modest display, and that they are environmentally conscious enough to purchase LED lights (which was the case for one-third of Canadian homeowners according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada). A string of 200 outdoor LED lights is available at Lowe’s Canada for $44.99. An enthusiastic homeowner would probably buy four of them .

Cost Lights: 4 strings at $44.99 each: $179.96

4. Electricity
What’s the point of lights if you can’t turn them on? That means we have to account for the cost of electricity. If the lights were on for six hours a day for the 31 days of December, that is 186 hours total. Multiplied by our four strings of lights, that is 744 hours. Electricity rates vary by province, but if we use Ontario as an example, Ontario Hydro charges 8.3 cents per kilowatt an hour in off-peak hours (which is presumably when the lights would be in use). That is a total of $61.75 for the month. The LED lights, however, use as much as 90 percent less energy, than regular incandescent lights, so we can slash our energy prices to $6.17 for the month – a relative bargain.

Cost of energy for lights: $6.18

5. A Ladder

Yes, this one deserves a category all its own. New homeowners might get away with not buying their own ladder immediately, but it would be tricky to get the lights up without one. Walmart Canada’s 17 foot ladder would seem to be more than adequate to get the lights up.

Cost of a Ladder: $165

6. Lawn Decorations:

So the lights are up and so is the tree – but a new homeowner may want a little bit more in the form of decorations. An inflatable – a huge blow up decoration to sit on your new lawn – would seem to fit the bill. There are any number to choose from, but one of the more popular ones this year would seem to be ‘Olaf’ the snowman from the Disney movie Frozen. You can pick up a 6 foot inflatable Olaf to sit on your lawn from Canadian Tire, at a price of $59.99.

Cost of holiday inflatable: $59.99

7. Housing the Guests:

Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, you are likely to do some holiday entertaining. Homeowners, however, typically have more space than renters so the chances that guests will come for an overnight holiday visit goes up dramatically.

You could go all out and decorate a guest room with every luxury, but even if you try to keep it pretty simple, at the very least, that likely means buying an air mattress, some sheets and a couple of pillows. We found a full-size, pillow-top air mattress at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $259.99 . A brushed-twill sheet set (300 count) is $89.99 , and a couple of pillows at $26.99 each add to the overall bill.

Air Mattress $259.99
Sheets $ 89.99
Pillows (2) $ 53.98

Tallying it Up

So let’s add it all up:

Christmas Tree $199.00
Tree stand 22.98
Holiday Lights (5 strands) 179.66
Electricity 6.18
Ladder 165.00
Lawn Inflatable 59.99
Air Mattress 259.99
Sheets 89.99
Pillow 53.98

Total: $1,036.77

Of course, this is an estimate and many families will likely spend much more or much less on celebrating the holidays in their new homes. And perhaps it is not the cost that we should be dwelling on, but rather the benefits.

Quantifying the benefits of being in a new home for the holidays is not as easy as tallying the cost of the lawn decorations, but their value is certainly real. The holidays may be a little pricey for homeowners, but most would say that they are worth every cent.

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