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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

American poet Robert Frost once wrote that, “You can’t get too much winter in the winter.” And the same seems to go for holidays. Whether it’s spending six hours periodically basting a slow-roasting turkey or attaching twinkling fairy lights to the exterior of your home, holiday chores are seemingly endless.

Why You Should Prepare Your Home

Adding insult to injury is the shape of your home itself. How can you get ready for the winter holidays when piles of autumnal leaves and summer toys still litter the yard? Perhaps spring and summer rains have caused the paint to peel. You really can’t afford to let that go through winter precipitation as well.

Even if you don’t plan to have guests over, your neighbors won’t want to spend another winter looking at the shabby state of your home. And if you do plan to have guests over, then you won’t want to welcome them into a dusty, cluttered environment. Fortunately there are some easy steps you can take to prepare your home for the holidays.

Preparedness One Step at a Time

After a few years of waiting too late to begin preparing for the holidays, last year my wife and I decided to start early. After making a list and checking it twice, we categorized the items according to priority. Here are some of the things that couldn’t wait.

  • Tackle Small Repairs – We could wait until springtime to landscape the lawn, but the gutters needed cleaned before winter weather arrived. We also took care of tightening down that loose step leading up to the front porch, and raking all of the leaves.
  • Touch Up the Paint – Another thing that couldn’t wait was repainting the outdoor wood shutters and the front door. After getting some advice from the experts at our local home improvement warehouse, we were surprised to find that the job was done in a single weekend afternoon.
  • Treat the Windows – In addition to repainting the trim around the outside of the windows, we also updated the inside window treatments. Light and airy linen curtains were replaced with heavier drapes. We also replaced outdated mini-blinds with interior shutters. It afforded the same level of privacy without the dangerous cords associated with other types of window treatments.
  • Deck the Halls – Once you’ve taken care of the cosmetics as well as the necessary repairs to winterize your home, it’s time to decorate. Save pine boughs from trimming the tree and hang them on the front gate or create a welcoming display to hang on the front door. Place sprigs of pine and holly in cinnamon-and-cranberry-scented potpourri strategically placed throughout your home in place of candles.
  • Setting the Table – Even if you plan to use your everyday dishes for the family who lives in your home during the holidays, setting out themed placemats, napkins, tablecloth, and other linens go a long way towards creating a holiday mood. And a decorative centerpiece in the middle of the table can’t hurt, either.

Decorating Without Spending a Fortune

My wife is as crafty as she is thrifty. One of the most admired decorations throughout our home is a piece of twine that hangs from one end of the fireplace mantle to the other. As the holiday cards begin arriving, she hangs them on the twine with alternating red and green clothespins. It’s simple yet meaningful, and our family and friends always enjoy seeing the card they sent us hanging with the rest.

On the other hand, another family member bakes an assortment of cookies to prepare for the holiday. She piles them onto a heavy crystal cake plate and keeps it covered with the cut glass top. It stays on a holiday-themed placemat at one end of her countertop where guests can easily help themselves to a delicious snack. It is a thrifty yet priceless gift to all who visit her.

Preparing for Winter Holiday Weather

Are you prepared for the weather? At the very minimum, you should have spare flashlights and batteries, an emergency radio, a first aid kit, and candles in a place that’s easy to reach if the power goes out during the night. It’s also a good idea to keep some non-perishable goods and bottled water on hand in case it takes the utility company more than a few hours to restore service. If all else fails, you can roast marshmallows in the fireplace and make some delicious s’mores.

About the Author

Mark Harris is a freelance writer who works from home. When he and his wife decided to update the window treatments of their home, they visited www.sunbeltshutters.com for the latest information about using interior shutters in place of other types of shades. When he isn’t working, Mark prefers being outdoors where he can participate in activities like hiking or kayaking.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to survive the holidays.