To-Dos: Your December Home Checklist

Get your home spruced up for days and nights spent indoors with family and friends

November 30, 2016

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With those in cold climates preparing for snow, plus holidays and social gatherings everywhere you turn, December is a notoriously busy month. But with a little preparation (and some extra time carved out for finding your Zen), you can savor the best of the season, from winter walks to hot cocoa. Check off these tasks for a less hectic, more harmonious month.

Transitional Exterior by FORM - Design Studio

FORM - Design Studio

Get ready for winter storms. Check the condition of your snow shovels, gloves and window scrapers, and replace as needed. Store snowy weather supplies near the door where you can access them easily in a storm, and mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles, to help the snowplowers see where to go. And even if it doesn’t snow where you live, keeping the pantry stocked with food, bottled water, candles and flashlights in case of power outages is always a good idea.

Disconnect hoses. If it freezes in winter where you live, now is the time to shut off the water supply to your outdoor faucets. After shutting off the water, turn on the faucets outside to allow any water left to drain out. Then disconnect garden hoses, drain the water and roll them up to store indoors until spring.

Transitional Patio by Park and Oak Design

Park and Oak Design

Put up outdoor holiday decor. Dig out those Christmas lights early in the month so that you have ample time to test and replace nonworking strands before the holidays. Hang exterior lights and wreaths, being sure to use only exterior-rated lights, and plug them in safely to an outdoor outlet.

Transitional Kitchen by Park and Oak Design

Park and Oak Design

Simplify your holiday. If you tend to feel overwhelmed at this time of year (who doesn’t?), take a timeout to set some intentions for your holiday season. Focus on a few meaningful activities that you really enjoy, and give yourself permission to say “no, thank you” to events or activities that stress you out. 

And if you will be hosting a major holiday event this year, do what you can to prepare in advance (and delegate some responsibilities to other family members) so that you can avoid last-minute stress.

Transitional Entry by Park and Oak Design

Park and Oak Design

Make space for winter coats, boots and scarves. With winter weather comes bulky coats, boots, and all sorts of mittens and scarves that seem to multiply when you’re not looking. Clear out the closet nearest your main entrance to make room for those extra winter layers, or supplement a hall with coat hooks and a tray to corral mucky boots.

Update your emergency kit. Be prepared for power outages and other emergencies by making sure your house and car are outfitted with well-stocked emergency kits. The basics include bottled water, a hand-crank radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, a cellphone charger (crank or battery-powered is best), food, blankets and a first-aid kit. At home, keep your most essential documents in one easily accessible place.

Get organized with this emergency checklist

Traditional Home Gym by DeGraw & DeHaan Architects

DeGraw & DeHaan Architects

Carve out your own space to get Zen. What with family stress, packed social schedules and world events, it’s especially important for our well-being to carve out moments for calm and reflection during this busy season. Create a personal retreat at home by clearing space for yoga, meditation or relaxation. It certainly doesn’t have to be as grand as this one; it can be simply a corner of a room. Just make the time to use it.

Traditional Kids by Mosby Building Arts

Mosby Building Arts

Spruce up indoor play areas. If you have kids at home, harsh winter weather can mean more playtime indoors. Stave off the cries of “I’m bored!” with a spruced-up playspace. A bit of reorganizing and a few simple purchases (like a giant roll of paper and fresh markers) can make the same-old space feel like new.

See great game room setups for snowbound days

Eclectic Bedroom by Amelia Hallsworth Photography

Amelia Hallsworth Photography

Refresh the guest room. Be ready for overnight guests this holiday season by prepping your guest room in advance. Make the bed with fresh sheets, replace lightbulbs as needed, vacuum and dust — it’s amazing how many dust bunnies can congregate in an infrequently used space like the guest room.

Put together a box with everything you need for guests

Traditional  by Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry

Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry

Set up a gift-wrapping station. Stock up on wrapping papers, plain boxes, ribbon, gift tags and tape, and store everything in an easily accessed spot near a work surface. Having all your supplies ready to go will make it much more appealing to wrap gifts as soon as you buy them — instead of waiting until the last moment for a marathon wrapping session.

Discover a simple-ish way of gift giving

Transitional Living Room by Park and Oak Design

Park and Oak Design

Block drafts. If you feel a draft, don’t just reach for another throw — apply weatherstripping to the drafty area to warm up your house and save on your energy bill. If the cold air is getting in under a door, what you need is a door sweep. Usually made from hard plastic, a door sweep attaches to the bottom of your door, sealing off the gap that lets in cold air.

Traditional Exterior by Copper Sky Renovations

Copper Sky Renovations

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Plan for holiday home safety. A few simple precautions — such as illuminating the area around your house, locking doors and windows, and trimming bushes — can go a long way toward keeping your home safe. And with night falling earlier this month, and many people headed out of town, it pays to be extra safety-conscious, whether or not you are going anywhere.

Tell us: What is on your home maintenance list this December?

More: A Contractor’s Secrets to Hanging Holiday Decor