Twinkling lights, festive garlands, favorite ornaments – you’re probably in full swing in terms of decking the halls of your home. You want everything to look, smell and taste just right when guests arrive. But have you thought about your actual house? Don’t forget that holiday entertaining means extra work for your home. Follow these simple tips, and you can be confident that your home will be just as comfy and cozy as you want it to be for the celebrations ahead.

1. Give Your Kitchen Sink Some Love

The saying “everything but the kitchen sink” definitely does not apply here! With all the extra cooking and dishwashing that come with hosting holiday guests, your kitchen sink should be a top priority. Is it slow to drain? If so, run very hot water down the drain to soften any caked-on grease, then squirt dish detergent down there and rinse again with hot water. You may need to up your game with a chemical drain opener or call in a professional for a drain cleaning.

How’s your garbage disposal holding up? Make sure you’re putting only a small amount of food in the garbage disposal at a time, and run cold water while throwing in scraps. You can also keep your blades nice and sharp by periodically freezing vinegar ice cubes and running them down the disposal. Dealing with funny smells? Toss an orange down there to freshen things up.

2. Don’t Forget to Dust

For many, dusting gets overlooked for more obvious chores like dishes and laundry. As a host, you know that it’s embarrassing to notice that telltale layer of debris on the surface of an end table your guests are using for drinks. But the real value of dusting runs deeper. Dusting your home actually improves your heating and cooling system’s efficiency, as well as your indoor air quality. To dust more effectively, try a microfiber cloth. Use a soft-brush vacuum attachment or electrostatic mop to dust ceilings and vents. If you notice excessive dust or pet hair trapped in your vents, it may be time for a professional duct cleaning.

3. Prep Your Furnace

When it comes to holiday entertaining, don’t rely on joy and goodwill to warm your home. Change the air filter in your furnace and check the carbon monoxide detector to ensure cleaner air and safe heating. There are also some furnace warning signs you may not see. It’s always a good idea to schedule a furnace tune-up before guests arrive. A professional can inspect your furnace’s electrical system, gas and oil connections, heat pump, and more.

4. Lower Your Thermostat

Speaking of your furnace, here’s a clever little hack that will help improve your furnace’s efficiency while keeping guests comfortable. Creating masterpieces over a hot stove naturally increases the heat inside your home. So does having a house full of guests. Do you ever find yourself cracking a window during a party because the room feels too warm? Don’t make your furnace work extra hard by pumping warm air outside. Instead, turn the thermostat down a few degrees prior to your holiday get-together. Just think, you can spend the extra bucks you save on more gifts!

5. Consider Your Lighting

When entertaining, it’s important to remember that lighting is a safety issue that shouldn’t be ignored. Your guests aren’t as familiar with the layout of your home as you are. Check in advance that your outdoor lights are working so your guests can safely walk to your front door. Similarly, put nightlights in hallways and bathrooms. And, if you like to have the best holiday lights on the block, it’s critical that you avoid overloading your outlets. Too many lights plugged in to just a few outlets can start a house fire. Don’t worry, you don’t need to cut down on the light show! Just schedule a professional to install extra outlets.

Once you’ve followed these simple steps, you can focus on the fun stuff, like menu and decor. From all of us at Blind & Sons, have a safe and happy holiday!