Updated December 9, 2019
Wait a second. Weren’t we just having our Labor Day picnics? Now the holiday season is almost here. This year, make a promise to yourself, your family and your friends. Repeat after us: “I will focus on truly enjoying this special time of year instead of stressing out.” Our holiday preparation tips and tricks can help you achieve that worthy goal. They’ll also help make your home a happy, inviting place to be.
Murphy’s Holiday Law
What can go wrong will go wrong and usually 3 hours before the guests show up. A little preventive maintenance, even in brand new Taylor Morrison homes, can head off disasters.
- Give your trusty microwave a good cleaning, inside and out.
- Check your oven’s temperature with an inexpensive thermometer designed for this purpose. You may be surprised to learn it’s 10 or 20 degrees off.
- Inspect the dishwasher, paying attention to food debris in the bottom and residue on the door gasket.
- Clean out the refrigerator and freezer. Make sure nothing is blocking the air vents. Fix or replace worn or misaligned door gaskets.
- Give your toilets some TLC. Replace worn flapper valves or the entire flush mechanism. Tighten all the screws and bolts.
Visit our Home Care Tips page and view our Home Care Highlights video series for more information.
Get Ready for Holiday House Guests
Kids home from college, grandparents, close friends and maybe even a long-lost cousin—they’re coming and they’ll be staying with you. A little advance work can ensure your guest room is comfortable and self-sufficient.
- Clear out as much of the non-guest gear as you can. At minimum, supply your guest with an empty drawer, a clear horizontal surface and a couple feet of free closet space. Don’t forget to provide hangers.
- Stash the frou-frou while you’re at it. That include throw pillows, your ceramic unicorn collection and those dusty artificial flower arrangements.
- Provide a few essential amenities like soap, lotion, tissues and a good supply of toilet paper.
- Be sure there’s a hamper where guests can toss their towels.
Give Guests Something to Do
Before your houseguest arrive, do a little research. Check your local newspaper website for the best holiday light displays, carnivals, events, concerts, etc. Post it on the refrigerator door and either let them plan their own itinerary or pick a couple of things they’d really like to do with you.
Make Your Holiday Home Merry
For those of us who love to decking our halls for any holiday, Christmas is the World Series, Super Bowl and Stanley Cup all rolled into one. Sure, you could go the Clark Griswold route and run your electric bill up to national debt levels. But if your goal is a stress-free holiday season, simple might be the better way to go. Better to be family comfy-cozy than “magazine-worthy.”
- Think themes—maybe a color palette, a style like winter wonderland or homemade holiday.
- Create a focal point for each area you decorate indoors and out.
- Set the mood with holiday smells: citrus, cinnamon, cloves, balsam…see, it’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!
- Group like items (your Santa or nativity collections, for example) for the most impact instead of spreading them al over the yard or house.
- Have kids-can-touch areas and place precious heirlooms or fragile décor up higher.
Explore more ideas in The Joy of Decorating Your Home for the Holidays and How to Decorate Your Home for the Winter Holidays.
Make Your Holiday Home Safe
Nothing spoils a holiday faster than a fire, a burglary or a trip to hospital or veterinarian. Follow the old prescription for an ounce of prevention to prevent a pound of cure.
Safe from bad guys:
- Don’t display your gifts in a picture window.
- Don’t advertise your new flat screen TV by placing the box on curb for pick-up.
- Keep doors and windows securely locked at all times, even when you’re out in the backyard or family room.
- Read more practical home safety tips here.
Safe from accidents:
- Sharpen your knifes. A dull knife is more dangerous than a razor-sharp one.
- Replace frayed electrical cords and don’t overload circuits.
- Never leave any fire (stove, candle, fireplace, deep fat turkey fryer) unattended.
- Lock up all medicines, poisonous household chemicals and firearms.
Safe for pet:
- Give a homemade gift certificate good for one shelter pet, adopt the pet after the holidays.
- Put potentially poisonous plants, tinsel and candy where curious kitties and dogs can’t munch them.
- When guests come, put your pets in a closed, quiet room or their crate.
- Read Make Your Home Merry & Safe to Pets
When It’s Your Turn to Be a Holiday House Guest
A hostess gift is always in order but what to give? Follow Rule #1, give something you’d like to get, not some white elephant you’d like to get rid of.
- A houseplant in a pretty container. See our Complete Guide to Indoor Plants for ideas.
- Homemade food. If it’s a dinner party, better make it something that can be consumed later, rather than clash with your hostess’s menu. See our new holiday recipes for suggestions.
- A bottle of wine is always a good gift, unless your host doesn’t drink. In that case, consider a premium coffee or tea, maybe packaged with bakery or homemade cookies.
- Our Simple Guide to Holiday Party Etiquette has more suggestions for what to bring.
You know how when you get on an airplane and the flight attendant safety instructions include telling you to use the oxygen mask on yourself first. Apply that good advice to holiday turbulence. Make time and take time to care for YOU. Maintain your exercise routine. Eat healthy. Get the sleep you need. And whenever you’re starting to feel stretched too thin, call a 5- or 10-minute time-out to relax.
Make lists. Not just of stuff you have to do. That can be overwhelming, especially when it go for three single-spaced typed pages. What you want to do is make prioritized lists with two columns: What Must Be Done and What Can Slide. You may be pleasantly surprised by how many things can go in that second column.
Plan to Spend Next Year in a New Home
Make a little time to dream about a new home in the new year. Visit Taylor Morrison and put it on your Wish List. Who knows? Santa might just come through.
Hope these hints help you have a beautiful, meaningful and peaceful holiday season!