7 Home Tasks to Do Now for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

Because we could all use a little more calm during this time of year.

We all long for the stress-free holiday season of glossy magazines and TV movies—smiling family members baking cookies, beautiful decorations, and friendly neighbors dropping by. The reality is that our days are often filled with last-minute shopping, missing ingredients in kitchen pantries, and embarrassment at the mess when guests arrive.


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While a bit of deep breathing can help, you can prep for a stress-free (or at least, stress-a-little-less) holiday season by taking care of these seven tasks around your home now. You'll feel more prepared to actually enjoy and celebrate the season.

Make Some Space

The holidays usually mean there will be gifts. Where will the new stuff go if every closet, drawer, and toy box is already overflowing? Now is the perfect time to sort and donate clothes to make space. Go through toys and donate those that haven't been played with lately or that the kids have outgrown to a charity. Donate books to your local library or family shelter. Toss or recycle any items that have broken or missing parts.

Sort Holiday Decorations

Hopefully you did this at the end of the holidays last year, but if you didn't, take some time to sort through your collection of holiday decorations. Discard any crushed bows and broken lights or ornaments. Donate items you don't use to charities or pass along treasured family items to others if you haven't displayed them in several years.

Don't forget to survey your wrapping supplies and stock up now on tape, ribbon, gift bags, and paper.

Declutter and Restock the Pantry

Now is the time to empty your pantry and get rid of expired canned foods and dry goods. Donate any products that are still edible or that you don't use to food banks. Transfer dry goods from their packages to clear containers so you can see at a glance what you have on hand. Keep a list of products you need to replenish. Vacuum and clean the pantry shelves and then restock products that you'll need for holiday baking and meals.

When you finish the pantry, dive into the refrigerator and freezer and repeat the process. Toss expired or mystery frozen foods and deep-clean the appliances.

Create a Clean, Clutter-Free Kitchen

Guests almost always end up in the kitchen. Be prepared by decluttering countertops and cabinets now. Clear away school papers, junk mail, and anything else that doesn't belong in the kitchen. Remove small appliances from the countertops to another storage spot and donate those that you no longer use. Go through dishes, glassware, and bakeware and donate or toss anything you don't need. Dispose of all of the unusable take-out and storage containers that are cluttering a cabinet.

Deep-clean the oven and stovetop so your favorite cookies won't have a strange smokey flavor.

Refresh Your Entryway

Take a good long look at your front door and entryway. Is there room in the entry closet for guest coats? If you prefer no shoes inside, is there a place for shoe storage? Does the welcome mat look less than welcoming? Just a few changes can create a warm first impression and keep clutter under control during the busy holiday season.

Prepare the Guest Room

If you're expecting overnight guests over the holidays, get the guest room and guest bathroom ready now. Deep-clean the rooms and wash bed linens and towels. Be sure the window coverings and lights work, add soap and personal items to the bathroom, and clear some closet space.

If you don't have a separate guest room, take a few minutes to get the linens washed and ready and check the air mattress for leaks.

Prepare and Stock Up on Winter Supplies

If you live in an area that has sleet and snow, stock up now on salt or sand for walkways. Check that your snow shovel or snow blower is ready to use to clear the way.

Before lighting that first blaze in the fireplace, have the chimney cleaned and checked for damage. Have gas fireplaces inspected for cracks or leaks and change the filters in HVAC systems. Clean filters mean better air quality and less dust on furniture.

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