Holiday prep list: Is your home ready?

Key tips to remember

  • Preventative maintenance helps solve issues before they start.
  • Make safety a priority and take precautions to keep your home secure while you’re on vacation.
  • Keep a stock of all the essentials — for emergencies or when guests need extras.
DIY, Maintenance and Repairs

It’s that time of year — lots of cooking, hosting and traveling for the holidays — and being truly ready for all the festivities encompasses so much more than just shopping for gifts for friends and family.

All the extra commotion puts a lot of strain on your home — especially its appliances and systems. Don’t get caught off guard or wait until you’re too busy to prepare. Use this guide to get a jump on everything no matter what your holiday plans are this year.

If you’re staying home for the holidays…

Schedule a preventative maintenance visit. The colder temperatures cause your heating system to work harder. Get it checked and serviced before the chilly weather creeps in to help ensure you make it through the winter without any hiccups. If you have a fireplace, schedule a checkup for it to so you know it’s safe and ready to use for cozy nights in.

Seal and insulate your home properly. Your heating system won’t have to work as hard if your house is doing a good job of keeping warm air in and cold air out.

Check batteries on smoke alarms. Between the extra cooking and the use of heating systems or fire places, there’s a higher risk than usual for fire-related emergencies. Make sure you and your loved ones stay safe and get ample warning in the case of a fire.

Be prepared. Even if you don’t live in an area where you can get snowed in, things happen: pipes burst, cars break down or the power goes out. Keep some important extras on hand in case you can’t make it to the store or lose the ability to use your appliances for any reason. Make it a habit to always have an ample supply of bottled water, nonperishable food and disposable essentials (e.g., toilet paper, napkins, plates and utensils) so you’re ready to handle anything.

If you’re going away…

Set your thermostat to an efficient temperature. Don’t pay extra money or expend extra energy to heat or cool your home when you’re not in it. If you live in very cold areas, just make sure not to turn off the heat completely or you may risk frozen pipes.

Have a friend or neighbor pick up your mail. A collection of newspapers on the driveway or an overflowing mailbox are signs of a vacant home and could attract a potential thief. If no one you can count on is around or you are particularly worried, install a security system for more peace of mind. Many smart home systems nowadays even allow you to lock your doors or adjust the thermostat from your smart device in case you leave in a hurry and forget to do those things.

Make social media posts about your vacation visible only to close friends. Or, better yet, wait to post until you’re back in town. This is another often-overlooked safety measure that helps ensure your home is not vulnerable to theft or vandalism while you are away.

If you’re hosting guests…

Stock up on everything. Get extra of whatever you have in your emergency stash of food and supplies so you have enough for everyone. Along with being prepared for anything out of the ordinary happening, it pays to have plenty of everything you need in case visiting friends and family end up forgetting something or using way more of something than you would have guessed.

Prepare a special space for them. If you have a guest room, this is a no-brainer, but it’s still possible to make your guests comfortable even without one. You can use a simple tension rod and curtain to partition a space off to give guests more privacy if they’re staying in an open area of your home. If your couch isn’t the comfiest, get an inflatable mattress and a nice set of pillows and bedding.

Spruce things up. Give your home at least a few holiday touches to really evoke the spirit of the season and treat your guests to a special experience that will stand out from other visits they may pay you throughout the year. A wreath, twinkling lights or a holiday-themed welcome mat are good places to start.


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.