The Ultimate Guide to Getting Your Home Ready for the Holidays
Breathe a sigh of relief after checking out this guide to getting your house ready for the holidays.
Is your doormat squishy and virtually useless after a rainstorm? With a fine-tooth handsaw or a jigsaw, cut a piece of 2 x 4-ft. suspended ceiling plastic grid (about $10 at a home center) to fit under your mat. Air will circulate better under the elevated mat and help it dry faster and prevent mold from growing in the fabric. The plastic grid is sturdy and won't break under the heftiest footstep in your neighborhood. To keep mud from getting in your house, consider installing this mud-busting boot scrape.
Zip-Tie Your Decorations
Zip ties are a simple way to string holiday lights on banisters and fences without marring the railing with nail marks. Zip ties are sold at home centers. You'll find them in the electrical supplies aisle. After the holidays, snip the ties off with scissors.
Temporary Valet Rod
When you need temporary clothes-hanging space around the house, keep an extra shower tension bar handy. Put it between the jambs in the laundry room door on heavy laundry days. Or, use it in the bedroom closet to pack for trips or stick it in the closet opening in the guest room/den so overnight guests can hang up their clothes. It's a quick and easy way to gain an extra closet! Want more ways to expand your closet space? Who doesn't! Check out these 16 tips.
Clean Out Dryer Lint
Carbon Monoxide Season
Hang a Wreath on a Door
To hang a wreath on a door—without leaving an ugly nail hole—drive a small screw into the top of the door, leaving the head protruding slightly. Tie a piece of fishing line to the screw, tie the other end to your wreath and then drive the screw in completely. Need help hanging decorations on your walls? These tips make it easy.
Better Holiday Light Clips
Make inexpensive, long-lasting holiday light clips from common electrical cable wiring staples. Snip the staple in half and fasten it to your fascia or trim with the remaining nail. These clips hold the wire securely, but it's still easy to slip the wire behind the clip. If you have metal fascia, use stainless steel screws so they won't rust. Got some light strings that aren't working? Here's how to repair them.
Touch up Nicks and Scratches
If you have shallow scratches or nicks, hide them with a stain-filled touch-up marker. Dab on the stain and wipe off the excess with a rag. But beware: Scratches can absorb lots of stain and turn darker than the surrounding finish. So start with a marker that's lighter than your cabinet finish and then switch to a darker shade if needed. For deeper scratches, use a filler pencil, which fills and colors the scratch. If the cabinet finish is dingy overall and has lots of scratches, consider a wipe-on product like Old English Scratch Coat. These products can darken the finish slightly, so you have to apply them to all your cabinets. Bigger than a scratch? Use polyester filler.
Tighten the Tree Stand With a Drill
Baking Soda Makes Odors Go Away
Get a Water-Absorbent Mat
To protect your carpet, place a water-absorbent mat inside your door for wet or snow-covered shoes and boots. Or you can make this attractive boot tray.
First spread a plastic tarp on the floor under the chandelier to catch the drips. Then turn off the light and spray the solution on the chandelier until liquid beads start to run (you'll use a lot of spray, but it beats wiping). The spray rinses off the dust. The solution that's left evaporates quickly and doesn't leave water spots. The spray works well on hanging crystals, but don't expect it to remove dust from crevices. Buy it from nancysilver.com or chandelierparts.com. If you're tired of cleaning you chandelier and would like to replace it, here's how you can do it yourself.
A Showerhead Grab Bar is a Big Help
For people with limited mobility or who prefer to shower while seated, a handheld showerhead is a terrific help. And even better is a handheld showerhead on a sliding rail that allows for individual adjustment. But because those rails are often flimsy, grabbing one could be a disaster. Look for an ADA-compliant grab bar with a sliding handheld showerhead. Here are 20 additional tips for creating a safe home for older family members and guests.
Heat Up a Lukewarm Dryer
Icemaker Repair Tips
Sharpen Your Knives
Make sure all your knives are sharpened and ready to go long before guests arrive and the holiday meals are set. Sharp knives will make food preparation a breeze.
Clean Your Oven
The last thing you want is the smell of last week’s burned pizza cheese when you heat up the oven. And it takes just a few steps to clean your oven for holiday meals. Plus, it can be done without harsh chemicals.
Clean Out the Garbage Disposal
Chances are you’ll be serving lots of drinks during the holidays, so make sure your ice maker is working correctly. And if you think you’ll need more ice than your ice maker can produce, keep a bag in your freezer.
Wash Serving Dishes and Platters
You’ll likely need some serving dishes for holiday meals that you don’t use throughout the rest of the year. So take the time to make sure they are all washed and ready to go for your guests. And if displayed on open shelves, bowls and platters can collect dust.
Clean Cutting Boards
Check the Dishwasher
Ask About Allergies
As you’re planning holiday meals, be sure to ask your guests if there are any allergies or food sensitivities you should be aware of. Some allergies—such as those to peanuts—can be so severe you may need to clear those items from your pantry or cupboards.
Clean the Microwave
Is the inside of your microwave spotless? Didn’t think so. It takes just 10 minutes and minimal effort to remove all that baked-on crustiness from the inside of your microwave.
Make Room in the Refrigerator
Now’s the time to clean out the refrigerator, before you have to store all of those holiday meals. So toss anything you haven’t used in the last few months, including jars or containers that are nearly empty. And wipe down all the walls and shelves with a mix of equal parts vinegar and water.
Disinfect the Trash Can
Even with a trash bag in place, the bottom of the kitchen trash can harbor all sorts of grime and bacteria and be a source of bad odors. So take it outside and spray it down with the garden hose to loosen up any dirt or food particles. And while it’s wet, wipe it down with an antibacterial spray and rinse. Let it dry before fitting it with a fresh trash bag.
Organize the Spice Cabinet
Check Plates, Glasses and Silverware
Make sure you’ll have enough plates, glasses, silverware and serving dishes for all your guests and holiday meals. And if you think you’ll need more of anything, ask a friend or neighbor if you can borrow what you need.
Have the Fire Extinguisher Ready
Many fires start in the kitchen, so make sure you have a fire extinguisher ready before you start preparing holiday meals. And review fire safety guidelines, such as how to put out a grease fire.
Clean Oven Glass
Built-up spills and remnants of old food and liquids inside ovens can cause smoke and smell issues. It’s important to clean up big spills as they happen, and make it a habit to put your oven through its cleaning cycle regularly. But when you’re really trying to make your oven shine, you might need to go further. Learn how to clean between the glass panels of your oven door here.
Regular cleaning with a shop vac and standard chimney cleaning tools will prevent dangerous creosote fires. Here’s what you need to know before you get started.
Despite being covered with sheets and a mattress cover, your mattress still gets dirty. It’s a good idea to periodically vacuum it and spot clean any stains that may appear. Airing it out outdoors in the sunshine for a few hours can also do wonders for removing any lingering musty smells.
Clean Door Knobs
We all have them, and we all touch them. But when was the last time you cleaned your door knobs? It only takes a few minutes to kill any lingering germs (use a bleach-based cleaner) — just be careful not to get any on wood doors or trim, because it could affect the finish.
Clean Light Switches
Just think about how many times a day you use a switch on the lights. And no matter how clean you think your hands are, each time you touch the light switch, you’re spreading germs. Wipe them down regularly with a disinfected spray or cloth.
Because floors are often covered with stored items, and clothes block access to the walls, closet cleaning is often neglected. But who wants to put clean clothes in a dirty closet? Once a year (or once a season) make it a point to wipe down/dust walls, trim and shelves in your closet and give it a good vacuum, especially if you expect guests who are staying with you.
A Swiffer Sweeper floor mop is useful for more than just cleaning hard floors. Use it to dust interior walls and trim, too! Attach a dry cloth to the rectangle end and press it along walls and trim. You can pick up dust, cobwebs and dirt safely, without having to step on a ladder.
Clear Up Coffee Rings
Duster for the Vertically Challenged
Vacuum First, Then Scrub
Remove Tough Stains from Vinyl Flooring
The Right Stuff for Rust
Scum-Proof Your Shower Doors
Spot-Clean Food and Drink Spills
Clean Range Hood Grease Filters With a Degreaser
Limit Extension Cords
You’ll likely be using extension cords during the holidays, so be careful. Not only can all these extra plug-ins cause electrical overloads, those extension cords can also create tripping hazards around your house. Here’s everything you’ll ever need to know about preventing electrical overloads.
Keep Small Pieces Away from Kids and Pets
Many holiday decorations have small pieces that can easily fall off or be pulled off. If there are toddlers and/or pets in your house, be diligent about keeping anything with small pieces up out of their reach and monitor the floor for little items that could be ingested or cause choking.
Looking for some excellent gift ideas for those kids? Check out this fun collection.
Make a Safety Plan
You should have a safety plan for your family all year long, but if you don’t, the holidays are the time to put one in place. Where will you meet up if you leave the house due to a fire or other emergency? What are the quickest ways out of each room if there is a fire? Does everyone know where the fire extinguishes are located? Here are many more helpful tips for handling home emergencies.