Christmas is my favorite holiday. It's a busy, chaotic time of year but you get to enjoy lots of fun activities with friends and family, things that you rarely do the rest of the year. My family teases me because I love playing Christmas music for months. Everyone has their personal favorites and they change over time, i.e. my boys always hung the outdoor lights but they've grown up and now we visit them for the holidays.
It's easy to get distracted during the holiday season. You know you want to decorate the house and you know when you're done because you can see the results. This checklist helps you keep track of special holiday activities that aren't part of your day-to-day routine. The focus of this checklist is home safety — keeping you, your family and guests safe during the holiday season.
Decorating Your Home Outdoors
Lots of homeowners love putting up displays in front of their home … and some of us just enjoy driving through the neighborhood to enjoy other people's homes. Here are tips for keeping your home safe outdoors.
- Plan your outdoor holiday lighting ahead of time but why? Unless you're using solar powered lights or new LED lights that draw very little power (read Save Energy with LED Christmas Lights), you need to map out where to plug in your lights or you run the risk of causing a fire.
- Put together your holiday hanging kit, focusing on materials that you can leave up and reuse year after year. Use stainless hooks and screws plus floral wire and plastic cable ties to hang your decorations. Only use extension cords rated for outdoor use.
- Unless you work on a ladder frequently, don't do it. Following a 3 year study, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reported that almost 18,000 people ended up in emergency rooms due to holiday decorating falls … and it's estimated the total number of injuries is 2 to 3 times this number.
- Save energy using timers to control your holiday lights. Preset them to turn the lights on and more important, turn them off so there's no concern when you're traveling or already in bed.
Christmas Trees to Light Up the Indoors
Stepping indoors, the first thing you are likely to focus on is your Christmas tree. Here are tips for buying, setting up and decorating your tree.
- Buy your live tree early as cut trees dehydrate and you'll can do more to keep your tree fresh than most sellers.
- When buying your tree, check to see how fresh the tree is by running your hand along a branch to see if the needles are soft and remain attached. If the needles shed easily, don't buy the tree.
- When you get home, don't bring the tree inside. Keep the tree where it's cool, i.e. outside or in the garage. Cut the tree trunk and sit it in a bucket of water.
- When you're ready to decorate the tree, cut the trunk and place it in the stand and immediately fill the stand with water. You'll need to add water every 1 to 2 days to keep your tree fresh.
Creating a Safe Holiday Environment
We ll assume our homes are safe until something happens. Here are tips to keep your home, your family and guests safe during the holidays.
- Install several light timers to make your home appear occupied even when you're not home.
- Greet your guests with well lit walkways so be sure to check your exterior lights, and changing light bulbs requiring a ladder is a good thing to do when putting up holiday lights.
- Remove anything that might cause a fall. Handrails need to be secure and pick up rock salt or similar de-icer if you frequently have ice on your walkways.
- Provide a place for family and guests to sit when removing or putting on boots.
- Often lighting up the fireplace is a last minute thought. Prepare your kindling now and buy a box of 11 inch long, fireplace matches.
- If you don't have small children but expect some to visit over the holidays, walk around the house and add childproofing with cabinet locks or simply moving things like cleaning supplies and medicines up high.