Are you ready for the holiday season? It can be a busy time, but these early-December tips will help you keep everything on track so you can devote your attention to what really matters at this time of year: family, friends and relaxation.
A welcoming (and frugal) front porch
Inflation has us all trying to curb expenses, but that doesn’t we have to make our homes any less welcoming this holiday season. Pine boughs wrapped in a bright red ribbon, cut-out paper snowflakes in a window, an old wooden sled, child’s wagon or interesting chair festooned with cedar branches and a few simple decorations from the dollar store: they all dress up your front porch at next-to-no cost. Find inspiration here.
Because kitchens often go into overdrive during December, cleaning the range hood filter — which traps grease, moisture and odours — is important for keeping the air quality in your home at its best. A clean filter also reduces the risk of fire because grease is flammable. Degreasing dishwashing liquid, baking soda and water works on many filters. Learn more here.
Our kitchens are full of appliances, from coffee makers to Instant Pots. Find out how to bring them all up to peak performance this month. Don’t forget one often-neglected appliance: the humble toaster. Emptying the crumb drawer weekly and then shaking the toaster upside down over the sink to remove remaining bits and pieces will extend the appliance’s life.
Bath towels lock in odours, so wash your towels after every three or four uses. Body and face cloths, like kitchen towels, are magnets for bacteria and need to be washed even more frequently. Here’s how to do it properly.
Once a week, put your toothbrush holders through the dishwasher’s sanitizing cycle or at least give them a good scrubbing with soapy water.
Christmas tree safety
There’s nothing like the woodsy smell of a real Christmas tree, but that tree needs tender loving care to stay fresh and safe. Before bringing it inside, cut off the bottom inch so it can absorb water and then put it immediately in the tree holder with fresh water. A Christmas tree can soak up a lot of water, especially in the first day or two, so monitor the water level regularly. If it runs out of water, the bottom can seal up again and you’ll have to start all over.
Remember to keep the tree away from heat, disconnect the lights if you leave the room for any length of time, and make sure children and pets don’t pull the tree over on themselves or try to eat the shiny ornaments.
Visit The Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario website for valuable information on selecting and caring for real trees.
More safety tips for the holiday season
- Stringing indoor or outdoor holiday lights? Make sure they have been certified by the CSA, ULC or C-UL, check for safety recalls before using them, and always use your Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) outlets for exterior lights.
- If you have to use an extension cord, check it for wear and tear, never put it under a carpet or rug where it can become worn and spark a fire, and use the correct kind of cord.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace or stove, never throw used wrapping paper into it. The paper can cause a dangerous flash fire.
- Have little ones around this holiday season? Make sure batteries, especially the small round ones, are out of reach. Children swallow these things, causing throat and stomach burns.
Take time for yourself and your family this holiday season
Instead of waiting until New Year’s Day to relax (or, more likely, just collapse), set aside a few hours now for family time. A visit to seasonal events at the Cumberland Heritage Village Museum, an old-fashioned board games night with the kids or your friends (Monopoly, Clue, Sorry! are all ageless), or a simple evening stroll through your neighbourhood to admire the seasonal lights and décor: they’re all great ways to recharge and connect with those you love.