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I charge up to $80,000 to decorate celebrity homes for Christmas. We’ve had requests for carousels and live penguins — and if you can imagine it, we can do it.

Ged Comerford stands alongside a Christmas tree.Ged Comerford, operations director of The Christmas Decorators. The company decorates hundreds of homes and spaces across the world for the holidays.

Ged Comerford

  • Ged Comerford is the operational director of The Christmas Decorators, a UK-based company.
  • He’s decked the halls of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne and decorated David and Victoria Beckham’s home.
  • His company gets around 400 emails a day and has responded to over 10,000 inquiries in one quarter.

This as-told-to essay is based on a 2020 conversation with Ged Comerford, the operational director of The Christmas Decorators, a UK-based company. It has been edited for length and clarity, and updated to reflect accurate statements about his business in 2022.

I came on board at The Christmas Decorators in 2009 and now I’m one of the owners of the company. 

We’ve got 47 branches across the UK now where we employ about 400 people, and the Aspen, Colorado, branch is still operating.

Before I got into Christmas decorating, I was in franchising of maintenance chemicals. It had nothing to do with Christmas at all, but this is much harder work. 

A typical day this time of year is manic. My day starts around 6 a.m. and finishes around midnight.

the christmas decorators englandCustomers flooded The Christmas Decorators’ head office between September and December with 10,400 inquiries.

The Christmas Decorators

In that time, I’m taking phone calls, speaking to clients, writing risk assessments and method statements for installations, and putting proposals together.

I’m dealing with lots and lots of emails — I get approximately 400 emails a day. 

If I give 2019 as an example, just at the head office alone from September to December we handled 10,400 inquiries. We don’t answer the phones because if we did, that’s all we’d do. All our calls go through to a call center where they take all the inquiries, and they send the emails, too. Everybody gets responded to.

But if it’s a big name, like Tiffany’s, I’ll talk to them straightaway. 

In the past, we’ve worked with David and Victoria Beckham

london 060Home exteriors get adorned with elaborate displays of lights, garlands, wreaths, bows, and trees.

The Christmas Decorators

We were asked to turn up on Christmas Eve with Santa and reindeer and carol singers on the doorstep. We decorate Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne’s home in England. They live in Buckinghamshire, in the home that Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor used to live in.

Sharon’s extravagant. She has the whole driveway decorated, all the trees and bushes and shrubs. She also has the outside of the house decorated, as well as the inside of the house and her study decorated. We always have to put up one fresh Christmas tree, one real Christmas tree, which the family decorates themselves — but then we’ve got to come and take it all away.

There’s actually no price list for the service we provide

It’s a bit like walking into a florist to build a bouquet. The first thing the florist is going to ask you is, “How much do you want to spend?” Because that depends on what your bouquet’s going to look like. Our service is no different.

We’ve got clients that spend from as little as £500 or £600 ($667 to $800) and up to £50,000 to £60,000 ($66,739 to $80,087). 

Everything we do isn’t just time-sensitive — it’s time critical 

118470733_2706866419551783_8084770675441952054_n“When it comes to decorating, we’ve had requests for carousels in peoples’ gardens and live penguins,” Comerford said. “If you can imagine it, we can do it.”

The Christmas Decorators

When you’ve just decorated one of the biggest shopping centers in the UK and they’ve got all “The X Factor” finalists coming to switch the lights on, not being ready is not an option. We have to be ready.

One time I thought we weren’t going to pull it off was in a little town called Bethlehem. I normally travel to Bethlehem every year to decorate Manger Square, which is really the birthplace of Christianity. In 2018, I shipped all of the decorations well in advance of when we would arrive.

We arrived on Thursday to start work on Friday. We had a full week’s work ahead of us, but customs didn’t release the goods until the following Wednesday night. The switch-on was on Saturday morning. I had less than 48 hours to carry out a week’s work. That was stressful, but we managed to pull it off — without sleep.

We live and breathe Christmas 12 months a year

DSC_0131Comerford works 6 a.m. to midnight during the festive season to meet all client needs.

The Christmas Decorators

It doesn’t just happen — you’ve got to make it happen. It takes an awful lot of planning. 

The first Christmas exhibition of the year is in January in Frankfurt, Germany, and it’s called Christmas World. It’s the biggest exhibition in the world. Then I spend the next couple of months traveling through Southeast Asia. We have our own offices in Hangzhou, China, to maintain quality control of the products we manufacture.

We make things like 60-foot Christmas trees and 15-foot illuminated stags. We also make giant letters that spell out “Christmas,” “Joy,” and “hope.” We make giant presents that you can walk through or sit in. When it comes to decorating, we’ve had requests for carousels in peoples’ gardens and live penguins. If you can imagine it, we can do it. 

I also spend a lot of time talking to shopping centers because it’s their most important time of the year

bucks 192In addition to decking the halls at private homes of celebrities and plebs alike, The Christmas Decorators also kit out shopping centers and other large-scale properties.

The Christmas Decorators

There are over 650 shopping centers in the UK, and they all want to be decorated at the same time, for about the 14th of November. Then I get a summer break, where it goes into a bit of a lull. 

But throughout the year we’re entertaining clients at our headquarters. We’re also recruiting, training, and retraining franchisees. And then we’re preparing for Christmas again. 

All my life’s a circle, really. It’s a very rewarding business to be in. To put smiles on people’s faces is a joy, isn’t it? Of course, it’s also a very lucrative business as well.

Read the original article on Business Insider