Preparing Your Home for the Holidays

Preparing Your Home for the Holidays

by Jim Fugate

Christmas and Thanksgiving are great times to gather friends and family. However, extra people can put additional stress on a home, it's systems, and appliances. It's a good idea to look things over before gathering, to help prevent problems. There's nothing worse than finding out the disposal leaks when the turkey is only minutes from the table, or that a previous spill in the oven has inspired an unwelcome holiday tune from the smoke detector.

Here are a few of the items to look at before your holiday is in full swing:

Check the Appliances:

Take a look at the appliances, clean them the up, and wipe them down. Ensure that handles are tight, and that hinges and latches are functioning properly. If something is loose it generally only takes simple tools (like a screw driver) to re-tighten fasteners and keep things from failing off.

Look for signs of leakage around and under sinks, the water heater, at faucets and drains; and around kitchen disposals, the dishwasher, and the icemaker. Wet spots would indicate something has leaked recently while dark stains are an indication that something has leaked previously. If you can handle it the fix on your own go ahead, but if there is a doubt contact a tradesman before the holiday is underway - you'll generally get faster and happier service.


Check the handles, hinges, latches, knobs, and other hardware on doors, cabinets, and windows. Tighten loose screws and fasteners. Squeaky hinges can often be quieted with lubricant's such as a multipurpose oil or graphite. In a pinch cooking spray will get the squeak out (keep a rag handy to wipe up over-spray).

Keeping it Clean:

Holidays should always bring joy, and will inevitably bring messes. The spreading of joy is welcome. The messes need to be dealt with before they spread.

Clean ovens and stove tops to prevent smoke and fire. Clean out refrigerators, and other food storage areas to prevent smells and orders which will at minimum offend the nose, and at worst taint the taste of foods or even make someone ill.

Is your supply of cleaners sufficient? Are they stored where curious little ones can't get to them? Might there be a need for new brooms, brushes, buckets, or cleaning rags?

Check over your vacuum cleaner and other cleaning machines. Are they functioning properly? Do you need new bags, belts, or brushes?

Check for Slip and Trip Hazards:

Accidents and falls can ruin a otherwise wonderful event. Check outside to ensure that stair treads, decking, or pavers are solid. Inside, tack down loose carpets (especially on stairs) and use double sided tape to hold down rugs. Check handrails and tighten fastens as needed.

Think Child Friendly:

Are there items such as medications, chemicals, or fragile items that need to be moved up higher or put away?

Depending on the ages of visiting children outlet covers might be advisable. And, will you need child gates at staircases? If you don't have one that is less than 10 years old you might want to purchase a new one as some of the older gates can be dangerous to children.

Sometimes it can be helpful to lay right down on the floor and look at your home from the child's perspective. For example: That beautiful table cloth hanging over the end table might look like just the thing for a toddler to pull themselves up from the floor, but instead it could dump a brass lamp or a glass bowl right on their head.

Other Details:

· Are there burned out light bulbs to be replaced?

· How long has it been since you changed the batteries in smoke/CO detectors?

· Is your first aid kit stocked up?

· Do you have a good fire extinguisher in the kitchen? (generally anything more that 7 to 10 years old should be replaced)

· If your home will be the site of a large family meal or celebration: Do you have enough chairs, and are the tables you plan to use stable?

Every home is different, and there are potentially many additional items that can be surveyed before the celebrations. Take the time and keep the smiles in your holiday! Make an effort to prevent mishaps and prepare ahead to help keep the season fun. (If you've ever tried to find a plumber, or visit a ER, on Thanksgiving or Christmas then you'll know what mean.)

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