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Deck the halls with a pro

The holidays might be the most wonderful time of the year, but busy schedules and never-ending to-do lists can leave some of us more tired than inspired when it's time to haul out the Christmas decor. If you're used to risking your life on a slippery ladder trying to outdo your neighbour's winter wonderland, the thought of never dealing with a tangled strand of lights again might seem like a fantasy.

For Pam Dwyer-Lesky, a teacher in London, Ont., the dream is a reality. For the past five years, she's let a professional deck her halls -- and only has good things to say about the process.

"I've had zero bad experiences," says Dwyer-Lesky. She's used a decorator for just about everything and says her reasons for turning to a professional are many.

"There are lots of [reasons]," she says. "The time, the convenience, the look. It's professional and it looks clean and nice. Before, it was cool for businesses and I decided I wanted my house to look like that."

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While Dwyer-Lesky says at one time she had to call around to find someone willing to do a residential job, times have changed. And according to Don McQueen, owner of Christmas D├ęcor Oakville, demand for professional decorators has steadily increased.

"We've grown every season since we started in 1998," he says. "There's more demand than we can handle."

McQueen, whose franchise specializes in the design, installation, maintenance and removal of exterior holiday decor, says it's the service that sets professionals apart.

Getting started
Most clients, he says, will look at an online gallery before contacting him. The first step is setting up an appointment to go over the company's portfolio, discuss the customer's ideas and to generate a quote for the job. It's best, he says, to start this process as early as October, or at least in November. The estimate includes the installation, any necessary repairs, and removal of the lights in January.

"We charge by the job depending on how much and what type of work is done," says McQueen. "The average for our customers is about $1,000 per home, but there is quite a big range from $200 at a minimum to over $6,000 for some places."

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-- Posted December 24, 2012
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