Hi there Readers,
Getting ready for the holidays means more than buying gifts and preparing elaborate meals. Whether you’re hosting guests or hitting the road, there are several steps you should take to get your house holiday-ready. Here are five tasks to put on your prep list so that you can enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.
The holidays can bring a lot of clutter into your life, whether it’s decorations, endless rolls of wrapping paper, gift bags, the gifts themselves, cards and letters, crafts, or plates of holiday-themed cookies. Before you even think of stringing up a set of lights, you’ll want to clear out any extraneous belongings that have piled up around your house in the past few months. Conveniently, the end of the year is also a great time to make charitable donations, so you’ll probably want to be making piles of clothing and other household items to donate anyway. (Just don’t forget to get a tax receipt!)
2. BABY- AND PET-PROOF YOUR DECORATIONS.
Holiday decorations can pose risks to children and pets. Both tend to be attracted to the delicate ornaments hanging on the bottom branches of Christmas trees, for instance, as well as to sparkling tinsel and ribbons that can be choking hazards. Cats may feel tempted to try to climb your tree, and your dog’s wagging tail can easily wreak havoc, too.
To keep your tree safe for pets and small children, stay away from tinsel, and put only shatterproof ornaments within reach of little hands and paws. Keep in mind that some traditional holiday plants can be toxic, including holly (particularly holly berries) and mistletoe, so make sure those are kept out of reach, too. And when it comes to lighting holiday candles, never leave those open flames unattended.
3. FIRE-PROOF YOUR TREE.
If your holiday decorations include a tree, you’ll need to take a few safety precautions. Christmas trees are a major contributor to house fires, and those fires tend to be even more deadly than other types of house fires. You’ll want to make sure your tree stays as fresh and well-watered as possible to reduce that risk. When you get it home, cut an inch or so off the bottom before placing it in water. Make sure that it always has enough water to cover the base of the trunk. (You’ll probably have to refill daily.) Set the tree up far from heat sources and out of direct sunlight, and consider using a room humidifier to prevent it from drying out.
4. MIND YOUR OUTLETS.
Long strings of lights, blow-up displays, and other trimmings of holiday cheer can be hard on your home electric system. If you really plan to go wild, experts recommend that you bring in an electrician to install an extra circuit to power your holiday wonderland. It’s also a good time to get a whole-house surge protector installed or have the old one inspected.
5. SET TIMERS.
Your all-out display of holiday decorations can put a serious dent in your energy bill if you don’t watch out—or you might forget to turn your lights on at all, meaning no one will get to enjoy your hours of hard work.
There are a number of ways to avoid either issue. Photocell timers can sense sunlight, turning your lights on when the sun goes down. They often have multiple settings so that you can program your lights to turn on from dusk to dawn, or for only a few hours after it gets dark. Alternatively, WiFi and Bluetooth smart plugs allow you to monitor your energy usage and control your lights from your phone or home voice assistant.