Five tips to prep your home for the holidays

Before you string up the lights or fluff the wreaths, be sure your home is readied for your holiday transformation. Decorating is certainly an integral part of preparing for the holidays, and your home is on display during these festive times more than any other time of the year. So, along with all the wreaths and trees and garland and lights, be sure to do these things as well before the holiday parties begin, out-of-town relative crash on your couch and Santa slides down your chimney.

Outdoor maintenance
Before you blow up the giant inflatable Frosty for the front lawn, take the time to make sure your front lawn is clear of debris, doesn’t need one last mow and leaves are brushed away. You’ll be amazed how much more your Christmas outdoor decorations pop when you have a clean slate to start with when decorating. Also, use this time to check all exterior lights. You want a safe and well-lit path to your front door for evening guests. If it has been icy (good luck in Oklahoma) or it plans to be icy, be sure you have supplies on hand to deal with clearing walkways or shoveling driveways. Above all else, be sure your home is safe to enter and exit. Even if your home is exquisitely decorated, Christmas is still ruined if Grandma breaks a hip on the way to her car on an icy path or leave-strewn driveway! (Forget getting run over by a reindeer!)

Declutter before you deck the halls
A home decorated for Christmas is one of our favorite things – but a home that is decorated on top of the everyday decorations just looks cluttered, clunky and distracting. When holiday decorating comes around, take this opportunity to take a haul to charity. Chances are, over the course of the year since you last decorated for Christmas, you’ve collected another layer of junk that is ready to leave your house. Go room by room and collect trash that is ready to be someone else’s treasure. After you’ve pulled all you want to give away or throw away, then think through your regular display pieces and decide which ones you want to tuck away for the season. Stow these non-Christmas decorations in a closet so that your surfaces are ready and cleared for decorating. Here’s the rule: Every Christmas decoration you bring out should replace a decoration you already have. Trust us, you’ll love how much more you can see your Christmas décor and you won’t miss your everyday trinkets during the holidays.

Use seasonal scents
Did you know that memories have their strongest tie to smells? Add seasonal scents throughout your house to make memories for the little ones and spark old memories for the adults. Candles add ambience as well as aroma and warmers can be left on while you do other things. Sprinkle a mixer throughout your home to create an instant, warm, memory-inviting part of the holidays.

Shine up that microwave
I know – Who ever heard of cleaning your microwave as part of preparing for the holidays? It’s not exactly as festive as making your list and checking it twice. But, hear us out: With holiday parties and house guests common all throughout your holiday season, your microwave gets a workout. More people see inside of your microwave from Thanksgiving to the New Year more than they do the rest of the year combined! So, take it from us: Take a few minutes during the early part of December and get your microwave clean. Wash the middle turntable in the dishwasher, and wipe the rest out with some warm, soapy water or warm-lemon water. Enjoy the fragrance bonus, and consider similar reviews of your dishwasher and frig.

Get the kids involved
Children make Christmas not just a wonderful time of year but also a magical one. They see Christmas through a hazy, marshmallow-and-cocoa lens that I wish the rest of us could still see. (Polar Express, anyone?) So, toss out your notion of what your tree should look like and let the kids in on the action. String popcorn! Pick out family ornaments! Let your 5-year-old hang all the ornaments near the bottom and all on one side (Oh is that one just me? Don’t worry, you can fix it all once she’s asleep)! Point being: They will only enjoy the magic of the season for a few short years. Relax, enjoy it and try to see it as they do – you did too once upon a time.