Home & Garden

Prepare home now for holiday guests

Don’t wait to fix plumbing issues if you’re expecting guests for the holidays.
Don’t wait to fix plumbing issues if you’re expecting guests for the holidays. MCT

I don’t mean to scare you, but Christmas is only a month and a half away. Thanksgiving is even closer.

Remember how frazzled you were last year?

Holidays bring guests, and guests — no matter how welcome — bring stress. But with a little preparation, you can reduce some of that holiday strain before the doorbell even rings.

No, I’m not talking about knocking back a couple of shots of Jack Daniels. I’m talking about getting your house in shape.

Now’s the time to ready the guests rooms, tackle those little maintenance lapses and make sure the house is ready to accommodate a crowd.

Beth Dodson knows how important that is. The co-founder of the home management site HomeZada (www.homezada.com) remembers one holiday when her guests kept spraying themselves accidentally with a cheap kitchen sink sprayer that had an unfortunate tendency to stick. “I had a lot of wet people at Thanksgiving that year,” she said with a laugh.

Dodson offered a few suggestions for readying your home for the onslaught. Start now, and you'll have plenty of time to relax with that cocktail before the guests arrive.

But just one.

Look for the little problems. Every house has them — loose doorknobs, toilet handles that have to be held down when you’re flushing, that sticking sink sprayer. We get used to them, so we know how to make them work and hardly even notice them. But our guests don’t know our work-arounds.

Do them a favor and fix those niggling problems before the holidays, Dodson suggested. It will save your guests the embarrassment of having to ask how to work something — or, worse yet, thinking they broke it.

Address plumbing issues. With just a few people in the house, sluggish drains are an annoyance. With a crowd, they’re a flood in the making.

Extra people can put a strain on plumbing, so it’s wise to ensure it’s in good shape now, Dodson said. Make sure toilets are working properly and drains are operating effectively.

If you have a guest bath that’s rarely used, make a point of using all the plumbing fixtures there to make sure they’re working right.

Check the garbage disposal. The garbage disposal merits extra attention, because it’s prone to fail with heavy use.

“It’s the one time of year that everyone prepares a massive meal,” Dodson said, and all those potato peels and turkey trimmings can spell trouble if your disposal’s not up to handling the extra load. If you’re experiencing even minor problems with it now, fix it to avoid failure on the big day.

Freshen up caulk. Worn bathroom caulk is more than an eyesore. It’s an invitation to leaks.

Dodson recommended checking the state of your caulk and replacing it, if necessary. It’s a fairly easy and inexpensive do-it-yourself project that could save you the big expense of repairing water damage, while making your home more appealing to your guests.

Lighten up. Now’s the time to take a tour of your house and test all the lights. If bulbs are burned out, replace them. If switches or fixtures aren’t working, get them fixed.

Dodson also recommended making sure all the hallways and bathrooms your guests will use have working night lights. You want the guests to find their way without the risk of injury.

Address squeaks. Most guests want to be unobtrusive. Squeaky doors and floorboards might make them feel uncomfortable moving around your house, especially at night when the house is otherwise quiet, Dodson said.

Fixing them might require just a squirt of lubricant on a hinge or a sprinkle of cornstarch between floorboards. Or it might require some higher-level do-it-yourself skills or the help of a pro to fix more complicated squeaks.

Check the linens. Are your sheets in good shape? Do your guest towels look fresh? If not, it’s time to replace them, Dodson said. You’ve still got plenty of time, so keep an eye out for sales.

Clear the closets. Guest room closets tend to accumulate stuff we don’t know what to do with. Now’s the time to cull through that clutter and clear space for your guests’ clothes, Dodson said.

While you’re at it, go through your coat closet too. If necessary, move out-of-season clothing out temporarily to make space for your guests’ outerwear.

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