Before family or friends come to visit over the holidays, take care of these tasks to make your home safe and comfortable.


During the holiday season, visits from friends and family are common for many of us. Are you ready? Before company arrives, it pays to look around your home and see it as your guests might.

If you’ve been living with a drippy faucet, a poorly flushing toilet, or a sticking door for months, you may have forgotten that these things need attention. A little TLC can make your home friendlier, safer, and more comfortable for your guests. Here are eight things to think about:

1 Be sure your appliances are in good working order as you’ll probably need all of them. For repairs you can do yourself, see the Repair & Care articles in the Appliance section. For repairs beyond the scope of your abilities, call an appliance repairperson. If it’s time to replace a cooking appliance, check out your options in Buying Ranges, Ovens & Cooktops.

2 Explore amenities that make a great guest room. Have an empty dresser and a luggage rack on hand. Make sure there is plenty of empty space on tables and nightstands for books, jewelry, and other small items.

Mikael Damkier_faucet_drip
Get faucets and plumbing is good working order. There’s nothing like a midnight faucet drip to drive your guests crazy. Morguefile

3 Fix plumbing problems. Save your guests from having to put up with a poorly flushing toilet or the drip-drip of a leaky faucet. Make sure the plumbing works properly, particularly in the bathroom they will be using. For information on making basic repairs, see the sections on How to Fix a Dripping Faucet, Sink & Drain Repairs, and Septic Tank Care & Maintenance.

4 Don’t leave your guests in the dark. Be sure lamps, lights, outlets, and switches work. See the section on Electrical Systems for information about easy fixes.

5 Solve door and window problems. Doors and windows should close and latch properly to ensure both security and privacy. For information about how to weatherstrip a door, repair a windowpane, and other window and door problems, see the sections on How to Repair a Door and How to Repair Windows.

childproofing kitchens cabinets
Child-safety latches keep curious kids out of cabinets. ©HomeTips

6 Make sure your home is safe for kids if small children will be among your visitors. Many accidents happen during the excitement of visits, particularly when children are on unfamiliar turf. For safety steps you can take, see General Childproofing Techniques.

7 Organize your guest closet. Because most guest closets double as general storage, they tend to be stuffed with clutter. A great way to maximize a closet’s storage capacity, and provide plenty of hanging space for guests’ clothing, is to outfit the closet with storage organizers. See Closets &  Organization.

8 Be sure your fireplace is in good working condition. When you gather around the fire with friends and family, the last thing you want is to be driven away by smoke or, far worse, a chimney fire. Chimneys require cleaning periodically. You can have this done by a professional chimney sweep, or, in some cases, you may be able to do it yourself. For more information about this, see Chimney Repairs.

Stylish wood-burning stone fireplace provides a central focal point in this contemporary living room.
Get that fireplace working! Nothing is homier than a blazing fire. Attila /
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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort