Christmas whole house bookings

I’ve just had an enquiry for a 4 day booking over Christmas. I’d appreciate any suggestions, words of wisdom to help me make this a great stay for these guests. They’ve booked a cottage in the country for a previous Christmas (great review). I’m in snow country but that doesn’t mean we can guarantee snow. Family of 5, don’t know ages yet.

Personally, I would ask. There are a lot of reasons that people “vacate” their real lives during a religious holiday.

For example, I have some great friends that book a ski chalet over the Christmas holiday every single year because they are Jewish and have no interest in all the Christmas hoopla. By being out of town, they can skip the parties and whatnot and focus on their family.


It’s always better to ask, though I am not sure Christmas is just a religious holiday !

I am an (hardcore) atheist myself and celebrate Christmas, in a secularist country where most people are atheists/agnostics and cities decorate streets for Christmas anyway. Everybody I know celebrates Christmas regardless of their religious background.

Unless your guests want to escape Christmas, I think it is great to setup a Christmas tree. I have done so in my Airbnb and guests always comment on how nice it is to have a Christmas tree when they enter the apartment.
I also leave Christmas-themed sweets and colouring books for kids (I mean books with mooses and snowmen, not with little Jesuses and angels !).


Congrats! We decorate, decorate, decorate! Christmas tree up, outside decorated, etc. We have been booked every Christmas now for 3 years - plus Thanksgiving and most of December! In fact our Christmas folks this year are the same family from last year! They loved it so much they are returning to spend Christmas here again!



We do not celebrate Christmas for non-religious reasons that I’m not going to get into.

For many years, our rental has been booked for the holiday season and we have made no special efforts at all. No tree, no decorations, nothing. So many people (it seems) want to get away from the commercialism of ‘the holiday season’.

Ours is a separate rental and if guests want to decorate or celebrate they can do so, but I won’t. Many people in the world do not celebrate Christmas (I have Muslim and Jewish guests often). I do leave information in the rental about local celebrations that are happening - but that’s all.

Just call me Scrooge :slight_smile:


I will settle for pragmatic. One of your many talents.

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Agree it’s important to ask. I’ve decided to make this offer as many people want to have the experience of a live tree.
“At Christmas I offer a free live evergreen tree that can be erected inside or outside. An assortment of ornaments and lights will be on hand. The tree can be cut before you arrive, or you can be taken into the bush where you can choose the tree.”


I have yet to set up a christmas tree for my own children, much less AIR guests…

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I can’t imagine charging enough to make this worthwhile. I put a wreath on the door with Christmas berry I picked myself and a few ornaments and call it done.

I already have the ornaments, trees are free. I will just pay my brother $20 for getting the tree.

It’s not always about how much something cost…

Thanks for this great question, Louise! I’m interested in the replies because it never occurred to me that it would be a negative thing to “deck the halls”. I love your idea of providing a live tree with decorations. They can take it or leave it and would have the authentic experience of putting it up.

Here in Canada it starts to get dark and dreary at about 4:00 pm with lots of drizzle, and Christmas cheer really picks up the mood. I love it when the lights and decorations go up!

Here is what we do:
we get a crew up to the house for a weekend of decorating:

  • Christmas tree all decorated
  • wreath
  • garlands along the ceiling and on beams with fabric ribbon bows and stuffed animals with hats, etc in the centre
  • centerpiece on the dining table with pinecones, shiny balls and pine boughs
  • live centerpiece in the living room with pointsettias
  • Christmas countdown nutcracker
  • balls hanging from the dining chandelier
  • 5-foot Christmas stocking
  • several large-ish stuffed items (about 2’ tall): snowman and reindeer and fabric tree - all really cute

We all have a blast decorating the house together. We make it fun with some “spiked” hot chocolate and yummy treats - my friends get a weekend away at a resort in exchange for helping me decorate. I’m thoroughly in the Christmas spirit by the time it’s done.

Okay, this might be really pushing it, but I find out the ages of the people staying with us over Christmas and I buy gift for each of them so they have something to open when they are away from home. I leave a Christmas basket filled with goodies: hot chocolate, coffee and selection of teas, biscuits, chocolate, candles and a pair of slippers for each guest as well as high-quality Christmas crackers to open on the 25th.

When people ask about booking over the holidays I send them a link to our website that shows our house all decorated. I suppose if they are looking for a break from the decorations they’ll choose someplace else.

It’s kind of funny that people want to escape the decorations for religious reasons… I am a Christian and I know many people who feel that the decorations are a distraction to the true meaning of Christmas. So I have to chuckle that Christians and athiests may be saying the same thing for different reasons.:wink: For me, I just love all the cheer, and it’s something I look forward to.

Our movie library will include a selection of holiday movies all the way from It’s a Good Life, to Rudolph, to “reason for the season” movies like the Nativity Story and the Christmas Angel. People can choose what “speaks to them” or perhaps learn something about why others celebrate Christmas.

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Canadian – OMG, can you please come to Chicago and teach me how to be Christmas-y for my kids? I grew up in an immigrant family that didn’t really do Christmas, same with my husband. I have a 2 yo and 3.5 yo who have never had a Christmas tree and while we give them presents, I feel like I’m probably depriving them of some essential holiday experience.

Last year we did reproduce the Santa narrative for the 3 yo and told him that he would drop off presents while we were in Hawaii. (He opened his gifts near a fireplace when we got home after Christmas). We read him Polar Express and Charlie Brown Christmas so he has an awareness of the holiday but we do absolutely nothing at our house to make this a special time of the year. I’ve had no modeling of how to do this but now that both kids are old enough to anticipate and remember holidays, etc. I feel like I ought to be doing something.

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But it is when you are in the business of renting your room or house. Every little thing takes off the bottom line. And that includes doing a bunch of extras because time is money.

Christmas in our family was patterned from my mothers family traditions in England. It’s important that it be special, so it wasn’t until the week before Christmas that our house was decorated. The current practice of putting up decorations in November is obnoxious to me as it makes it less special, sort of like wearing your best dress to work. In Monday I visited three homes that had Christmas trees set up.
Bringing greenery into the home in mid-winter is a tradition amongst many beliefs, a kind of pick me up when it’s so dark and dreary.
I recall one Christmas we spent at the Holiday Inn in Miami Beach, we bought green streamers and using the ceiling light as the top, we tied lengths and stretched them to the carpet (shag as it was the 70’s) with thumb tacks we attached the streamers to the floor. We then tied and taped various hand made ornaments, construction paper shapes, tinsel and, sea shells.
So as you can see there is no one way to make Christmas. Ornaments can be fancy and expensive or handmade with Popcorn, cranberries or one of our favourites walnut shells made to look like mice. It’s all a bit of nonsense to make life a little brighter. As I live alone I don’t always have a full tree, but I do make an effort to cut some greenery and dog wood branches (they are a bright red) and I make a display with these and some pin cones, red and gold bells, beads, and ribbons.

Midwinter celebrations go back thousands of years and predate Christianity. A wonderful program to watch which might inspire you to create a Christmas that fits your family is the Tudor Monastery farm special on YouTube
Tudor Farm Xmas


Agree time is money, it will take very little effort or time as I wouldn’t decorate the tree, that is the fun part that I’d leave for the guests to do. No one is asking other hosts to do this, my situation offers people a chance to get away from the plastic trees which many are forced to use due to economics or fear of mess.


I always rent over Thanksgiving and Christmas and New Years. I also raise my rates by $25 for each nite. I decorate for Xmas a little bit. Afterall, we move out. One time I asked if that was OK, and the answer was yes. Now I don’t ask. btw: I only rent my whole house via Air.

Thanks Louise. I couldn’t get very far through the youtube video but I am trying to figure out some dish to prepare that they will only have during the holiday. We are going to get a tree, hang stockings, maybe bake holiday cookies. I’m not really very creative when it comes to stuff like this. Your streamer Christmas tree idea was so fun and creative. How do you even think of things like this - did you come up with that yourself?

Don’t worry a bit Chicago. That is already plenty you are doing with your kids. After the age of 6, I was not allowed to participate in “pagan” activities. No more Easter egg hunts, trick or treating, Christmas celebrations, no birthday parties - but we were allowed to attend other kids’ B-day parties, etc. I turned out fine :smile:

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When my children were that age, they spent the time playing with the tree, and unscrewing the fairy lights. My husband is a christmas tree nut, takes a day off work to decorate the house.