It’s December – and that special time of year when we transform our homes into magical places of wonder, filled with the scents and sparkle of the season. Whether you prefer a nativity, cover everything in ‘snow’, or display a different themed tree in every room, most people will do something in celebration of the holidays. This month’s issue is all about what we can do to prepare our homes before the decorations go up.
Start with your windows. I know, I know… No one likes to clean windows. But doing so will show off your holiday lights brilliantly (or reveal your dirty windows). Ideally inside and outside should be washed, but if nothing else, clean the insides as usual and just hose down the outside of windows on a beautiful sunny afternoon before the holidays. Be sure to do all the glass doors in your home, too, especially the entrance doors that your guests will see first. Get them sparkling! Everything else you do inside and outside in the way of lights will be more attractive when seen through clean clear glass.
And speaking of glass, if you have a glass-fronted fireplace, both inside and outside of the glass should be cleaned, as well. It can become cloudy throughout the year and after cleaning, you’ll notice a big difference even if you didn’t see it earlier. Besides showing off your beautiful fire, clean glass will reflect all the twinkling lights in the room.
Allow the Scents of the Season Fill Your Home
If you have a wood burning fireplace, ‘tis the season to stock up on wood. Be sure to have more firewood available, since a burning fire during the holidays automatically adds to the warmth and coziness we enjoy while spending time with family and friends. But regardless of the type of fireplace you have, decorate your mantle with fresh greens if possible. The natural scent and authentic appearance are hard to beat. Send any young ones in the family out to gather pinecones and scatter those along the mantle.
Extra pinecones can be made into ornaments for the tree using glitter glue along the tips, or even transformed into miniature Santas with some cotton and red felt and a few googly eyes – a great way to keep little hands busy when you’re doing some holiday baking. There are many other crafts they can make with pinecones. For inspiration, check out this online tutorial at https://www.countryliving.com/diy-crafts/how-to/g312/all-about-pinecones-1206/
Another great fragrance to fill your home is stovetop potpourri. Just keep a small pot of water simmering on the stove filled with orange pieces or peels, some cinnamon sticks and cloves, and cranberries. Even apple cider in a small crockpot will fill your home with the scents of the season. Baked apples with cinnamon and any kind of Christmas cookies baking in the oven are other ways to fill your home and your stomachs with holiday joy.
Bring In the Sights and Sounds of Christmas
Bring out your holiday music as soon as the season begins, or just find the radio station that plays it nonstop so that it’s available when you want it. It’s a great mood setter for baking and wrapping presents, and very festive when entertaining this time of year.
Look around your public spaces – your living room, dining room and kitchen. Check that summer décor is removed; sometimes we get so accustomed to seeing something we no longer actually notice it. Remove them and replace with seasonal items. If you want, choose an accent color (red is so appropriate and has that wow factor) and carry it throughout these areas of your home.
You can even set your table ahead of time, minus the dishes, which should only be placed on the table shortly before the big meal. A holiday runner, a fabulous centerpiece and some other natural elements on the table can change it from good to great. Your centerpiece can be a a floral one, an ornamental sled, or anything that you love to look at. Stroll through a craft store for some really great ideas or pick up a magazine for others. Grouping candles on your table is another way to add glamour and glitz and can be done ahead of time in preparation for the big day.
And don’t forget about extra seating that may be needed. If you have a bench at the end of your bed, it may serve this purpose perfectly. If you’ll need to use folding chairs, have them all ready somewhere (possibly your laundry room or garage) and be sure to have them cleaned very well ahead of time if they’ve been in storage. Five minutes before the meal is not the time to begin wiping off dust and grime.
Pamper and Protect Your Guests
Another way to prep your home before the tree goes up and the decorations are hung is to do a thorough cleaning, especially if you’re expecting overnight guests. Before it gets too busy, ready your guest room with clean linens and extra blankets and pillows. A bedside lamp and some magazines are thoughtful touches. Some cleared closet space (or at least some over-the-door hooks) as well as a small table or shelf for laptops and purses will be appreciated.
Check the bathroom your guests will use, making sure there’s plenty of clean towels, basic toiletries and toilet tissue available and easily accessible. The bathroom garbage can should be empty, and mirrors should sparkle, along with the floor and the bath or shower. Doing this ahead of time will save you the stress of trying to get it all ready at the last minute. Splurge on a candle and some luxurious soap and hand lotion to make your guests feel pampered.
Don’t forget the outside preparations, too. If there’s the possibility of any kind of ice or snow, be sure to have snow melt on hand to clear your walkways and driveway before guests arrive. Check that your outside lighting is in order with all bulbs working and any clutter or toys removed from walkways. Designate an area within the home to collect coats, hats and gloves from guests, and let your family know where that will be.
Like anything else, organization and planning are key. There are so many ways you can get a jump start on the holiday busy-ness before the decorations go up. It’s our sincere wish that these tips and suggestions help with your holiday preparations.
From Mike & Joanne, and the staff here at D4 Construction in Kamloops, we wish you a blessed and merry Christmas!