From prepping for winter storms to gift-wrapping (or cookie-baking) marathons, December is a busy, holiday-focused month. Make the most of it by planning ahead, setting intentions and focusing on meaningful events rather than trying to do it all. The weather outside may be getting frightful, but that just means it’s the perfect time to get cozy indoors with a mug of hot cocoa. Check off these 12 tasks for an easier, safer and cozier month.
1. Get ready for winter storms. Keep snow shovels, gloves, ice melt and window scrapers near the door. Mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles, to help the snowplows see where to go. Even if it doesn’t snow where you live, it’s smart to keep the pantry stocked with food, bottled water, candles and flashlights in case of power outages.
2. Disconnect hoses. If you haven’t done so yet, 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 up the hoses to store them inside.
3. Decorate for the holidays —and sort holiday decor for the future. When you pull out the holiday gear this year, pay attention to what you are passing over. If you didn’t use a decor item last year and don’t feel like putting it up again, do your storage space a favor and donate it to charity.
5. Make space for mucky boots, coats and scarves. If you have a coat closet by the door, clean it out to make way for bulky winter coats and boots. If you don’t have a hall closet, set up your own systems to handle mucky items. A boot tray on the floor, a bench for sitting on, wall hooks for coats and a basket for hats and mittens should do the trick.
6. Update emergency supplies. Put your mind at ease that you are prepared for emergencies by making sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit in the house and in the trunk of your car. At the very least, include bottled water, a hand-cranked radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, a cell phone charger, food, blankets and a first-aid kit. At home also keep your most essential documents in one easily accessible place.
7. Boost home security. If you will be traveling over the holidays, use light timers for interior lights and ask a friend or neighbor to take in mail. If it’s going to snow while you are away, hire a service to plow or shovel your walkways. It will give the impression that your house is being lived in and make coming home much more pleasant. Even if you are staying at home, consider adding motion-sensor exterior lights to make it less inviting to potential burglars.
8. Check for drafts. Feel a chilly draft when you’re hanging out in the living room? Don’t just reach for a blanket; get out the weather stripping! Taking care of gaps that let in cold air can make a big difference in how well your home holds heat.
9. Set up a gift-wrapping station. Preparing early for the gift-wrapping frenzy means it won’t have to be frenzied at all. Stock up on pretty papers, ribbon, gift tags and tape — anddon’t forget to grab some plain boxes and gift bags for hard-to-wrap items, too. Set up your supplies near a table with enough room to spread out, and you’ll be ready to wrap
10. Give the guest room some love. Expecting overnight visitors over the holidays? Get your guest quarters shipshape now and avoid a last-minute rush to get ready. If you can’t remember the last time the guest bedding was used, it may need to be laundered. Clean the room, make the bed and include a few extra touches, like a fluffy bedside rug and a carafe for water.
11. Set your intentions for the holiday season. Avoid the steamroller sensation that comes from giving in to too-high expectations this holiday season and commit to focusing instead on what is most important to you. If you have children, consider what you most want them to remember about the holidays at home once they are grown — and think back to what meant the most to you when you were young.
12. Go on a holiday home tour. Most holiday home tours are run by local historical societies — look in your local paper for happenings in your area. This time of year is often the only time some of the loveliest historic homes are open to the public, and fully decorated for the holidays at that! Going on a holiday home tour is a great way to get into the holiday spirit … and maybe get some ideas for your own home.