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Holiday Open Houses – Dumb and Dumbest

funny witch on broom
The holidays are approaching, so I thought I would share my favorite holiday blooper tales so that some of you could avoid the pitfalls of theme oriented open houses.  Those who pay heed may avoid disaster. The rest of you are on your own.

Ditch the Witch

One clever agent decided to increase traffic for her Brokers Open by planning a Halloween fun house. She advertised in the MLS Open House Guide that there would be a few “Halloween surprises.” It never occurred to her that SOME agents just follow the MLS open house lists and do not read the Open House Guide. (Cue the music from Nightmare on Elm Street, maestro.)

On the day of the open house one broker entered, delighted to see the Halloween décor. As she began her tour of the house, she opened the door in the foyer. Suddenly there was a piercing cackle, and a witch dropped down on a broomstick. The agent screamed and nearly fainted from shock. Fortunately there was no pacemaker involved, but the hapless agent unexpectedly emptied her bladder and had to go home – wet, humiliated, and p_ssed. (How redundant!) Moral of the Story: It’s great to come out of the closet, but make sure your audience is prepared…or wearing Depends.

What Day Is It Anyway?

Full of holiday spirit, one agent decided to do a Christmas open house in mid December. The day before, she baked,  decorated, and set up for the open house in the seller’s dining room. While adding the finishing touches, it dawned on her that a large target group in her area hailed from Israel. At the last minute she decided to do a Hanukkah theme and hurried home to send out email fliers announcing a Hanukkah Brokers Open. She ran out to purchase Star of David cookies and other non-Christmas baked goods so she would be politically correct and oh-so-hip.  (Cue the music from Fiddler on the Roof, boys.)

The next day, the open house had steady traffic, but the reaction of many agents seemed unusually reserved.  In fact, a few seemed downright curt. Finally one person from her office spoke up and said, “The cookies are delicious, Barb, but if I were you, I’d lose that centerpiece. The hostess glanced at the table and her jaw dropped in horror. There, proudly displayed, remained her original centerpiece: a lovely crèche, complete with Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus.

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Moral of the Story: Mixing holiday themes is like mixing your colors and whites when doing laundry – the result could involve serious bleeding.

Come One, Come All

My friend told me about an agent in Lake Arrowhead who makes gorgeous holiday wreaths. Apparently there is no end to her cleverness. She decorates like a pro, and every open house she does is worthy of a spread in Better Homes and Gardens. She even sells her handmade crafts, so open houses are a great venue for advertising her side business.

One year she had a holiday open house that was lavish in its décor. One highlight was the handmade wreath on the door. It was a prize-worthy beauty adorned with velvet ribbon, silver balls, and copious amounts of dried fruits. Perhaps this agent had been dipping into the eggnog. Perhaps this agent had been knocking back some Mothers Little Helpers. Whatever excuse she had, there was no explanation for her colossal lack of judgment. (Cue the music from Jaws, and then run like hell.)

The day of the open house, she was dismayed that an hour had passed and no one had arrived. Finally she heard a car horn beeping madly. She ran to the window and looked out to see a caravan of agents sitting in their van – they were wild eyed! They hit the horn again and signaled to her to stay inside. She glanced at the porch and noticed a pile of shredded ribbon and shattered balls. (Christmas balls, in case you’re wondering.) Hunkered over what had been the world’s most glorious wreath was the world’s most satisfied bear.  Fortunately, the honking of the horn drove the critter back into the woods, but not until he swiped the car with one paw and came periously close to eating the agents. (I’m sure there were some shattered balls in the car, too.) The open house was a bust.  The subsequent press did garner the seller some free advertising, however, and the agent sold a lot of wreathes that year. I’m told that none of them contained dried fruit.

Moral of the Story:  Will food draw a bear? Answer: Does a bear s __t in the woods?

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A Short One for the Road

One Los Angeles agent with a big heart and lousy baking skills made reindeer-face cookies for her open house. The cookies were the talk of the office because not only were they awful, but the reindeer faces, when viewed upside down, were very phallic in appearance.

The irony: her last name is Johnson.  Seriously.

Moral of the Story: Never eat a cookie if it’s a Johnson.

(You can cue the hook and drag me off now.)

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Written By

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn,, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.



  1. Gilbert AZ Homes

    October 9, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Wow! That is a lot of misguided creativity!

  2. Joe Loomer

    October 9, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    Wonder if the Pope was s____ing in the woods too, after hearing about the Meshuga Christmas party! Oy Vey, Boy am I Toisty!!

    Navy Chief, Lakhaiim!!

  3. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 9, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    OMG that’s a bad one. Resltors are always outdoing themselves in the marketing area.


  4. Steven Beam

    October 9, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Keep it simple right? It usually works best. I hold very few open houses as they seem to be mostly a waste of time in our area.

  5. Lani Rosales

    October 9, 2009 at 1:33 pm…AWESOME! LOL

  6. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    You know, Gilbert, “The best laid plans of mice and men…”

  7. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    “Misletoef,” Joe 🙂

  8. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Or, UNDOING themselves, RM!

  9. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    A lot of agents agree with you, Steven…but they can be SUCH a source of entertainment. I recently went to one where an agent sat in a chair where a pie had been placed. It was hilarious. (Well…at least for the observers.)

  10. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Lani, my world is crazy enough, but my brain takes it to a whole new level, I know. Maybe it’s time for me to consider meds. But honestly, can’t you just picture those reindeer cookies???

  11. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    You know, you look a lot better in your profile picture than you do in the witch outfit… any other costumes, Gwen? 😉

  12. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    I tried the French Maid outfit, Mathew, but I couldn’t get the vaccum cleaner to lift off.

  13. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    yeah. they suck.

  14. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 2:55 pm

    So much for a “lightweight Oreck!” I thibnk I will just stick with baking reindeer cookies 🙂

  15. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    > baking reindeer cookies

    You don’t have to tell us what you’ll be wearing. if. you. don’t. want to…

    (gawd, i’m going to get in such trouble…)

  16. Joe Loomer

    October 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Thank you Matthew and Gwen – my next Open House is going to be “clothing optional!”

  17. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    It’s no secret, Matthew – I’ll be wearing my antler hat and a big red nose. Enjoy the visual!

  18. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Let me know how that goes, Joe. You should expect a lot of traffic…including the Augusta PD. be sure to take photos for your AG family!

  19. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    > antler hat and a big red nose

  20. Matthew Hardy

    October 9, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    { . . . }

  21. Gwen Banta

    October 9, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    Ho Ho Ho

  22. Augusta GA Homes

    October 10, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    Amusing stories…These agents must have way too much free time on their hands.

  23. Gwen Banta

    October 11, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    I like your comment @ Augusta, but I have never known a working agent who has ANY time on his/her hands. I do agree, however, that sometimes a few could use a compass…

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