We used to own a very large home in an old, in-city neighborhood that most of our friends thought looked great at Christmas.


I had never really thought about it very much until a successful bid at the local babysitting co-op auction brought us a one-hour visit from Santa.


As the neighborhood kids were coaxed into family-portrait poses with their parents and Santa near the Christmas tree, I sat back and thought how appealing the house actually was.


If there's one time of year the house feels presentable, it's during the holidays. And it's not just the yuletide decorations. The kids seem to help more, perhaps knowing the consequences of being naughty rather than nice; bulky furniture and toys often are stowed in an attempt to save space, and pleasant baking smells come consistently from the kitchen.


The big day with Santa and the neighbors turned in to an offer to rent. Some of our friends knew we were headed to grandma’s for the holidays and asked if their relatives could rent our home while we were away. It worked out well – and we would do it again.


The idea that nobody rents in-city homes during the holidays has fallen under the conventional wisdom bracket. However, common sense can also be a moving target: Families travel at Christmas and would prefer a home to a hotel room – in our case, two or three rooms.


Everyone wants to feel warm and welcome – no matter who they are. If your home looks great at Christmas, offer to rent it out. The online reviews will be all the marketing you need, and you can stow any can’t-break ornaments before you go.


Tom Kelly’s book “Cashing In on a Second Home in Central America: How to Buy, Rent and Profit in the World’s Bargain Zone” was written with Mitch Creekmore, senior vice president of Houston-based Stewart International and Jeff Hornberger, the National Association of Realtors’ international market development manager.