The holidays are an exciting but hectic time of year. Don’t let the hustle and bustle of the season override the safety of your family and guests. Prepare your home ahead of time and embrace the holiday cheer. Below are some tips to help you:
- Light the Way - Welcome your guests and reduce the risk of falls with bright outdoor lighting on steps and walkways. Help overnight visitors find their way around your house with ample use of nightlights or flashlights if need be. Avoid the use of candles especially around children. The addition of holiday lights and decorations bring the hazard of extension cords. Make sure that they do not cross the floor where anyone might be walking and do not cover them with rugs.
- Watch the Pot - Unattended cooking is one of the leading causes of home fires. Entertaining can pull you away from the kitchen, so designate a pot watcher who can also keep the little ones from underfoot and away from the heat.
- Mind the Fire - Of course it is so cozy to fire up the fireplace, but do so only if someone can stay in that room to mind it. Of course you will want to follow all the rules of fireplace safety, like having the chimney cleaned and inspected. Don’t allow anyone to throw paper plates or wrapping paper on the fire. Make sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order.
- Childproof - Even if you already have children in the house, prepare for visiting children who may not know or follow your rules. Lock up any potential poisons like cleaners and medications and don’t forget that some plants can be poisonous also. Be mindful that toddlers are fascinated by holiday decorations that could hurt or burn them. Keep an eye out for choking hazards like small toy parts, leftover foods, alcohol, and cigarette butts.
- Senior-proof – Eliminate tripping hazards like throw rugs and hallway runners. Be wary of what an older person might touch to steady themselves, and remove items that teeter or roll. Use nonslip mats in the bathtub and consider installing grab bars in the shower if they will have an extended stay.
- Pet-proof – You may already know what not to feed your pets, but your guests may not. To be safe, remind them to avoid feeding pets any “people food,” including coffee, alcohol, and candy. Be aware of new hazards like glass ornaments, ribbons, tinsel, plants, and chemicals in the tree water. Pets may need to be isolated in another part of the house, if the excitement of company is too much for them.
Keeping these tips in mind, we wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!
After the winter holidays have passed you’ll face the enormous task of packing and storing all of your holiday decorations for next year. Below are eight tips that will make the task go more smoothly than before and make it easier to decorate your home next Christmas.
- Christmas lights – At the end of the holiday season take inventory of your holiday lights. Throw away or recycle and strands that no longer work properly. Then, roll each good light strand in a ball and place each ball in a separate plastic bag. Place all of the bags of lights in a plastic storage container preventing moisture damage.
- Artificial Christmas tree – The original box your artificial tree came in seems like the most logical storage box. However trying to squeeze the tree back into the box will seem like an impossible task. You’ll have to smash and bend all the branches in order to squeeze the tree back into the box. Also, the cardboard box can deteriorate if subjected to moisture and could also be prone to insect infestation. Instead of using the Christmas tree box, consider purchasing a Christmas tree bag or a commercially available Christmas tree storage box.
- Christmas wreaths – Most department and home stores sell holiday wreath storage boxes of various sizes. Make sure you buy the right size storage box because you’ll damage the wreath if you try to squeeze it in a box that’s too small. Also, consider boot boxes. They often work well for medium-sized and smaller Christmas wreaths. Just remember, whatever you use to store your wreaths must be able to maintain the shape of the wreath until next year.
- Ornaments – Many holiday ornaments come in individual boxes. It often works best to just repack these ornaments in their original boxes and store together in a large container. Try using other small boxes for homemade ornaments or wrap them in tissue paper and store together in a larger box. For small ornaments, use an egg carton.
- Holiday linens – Store each Christmas linen in an individual Zip Lock bag if possible (or tightly wrap larger items in lager plastic bags or trash bags). Place all of your plastic-wrapped linens in a large plastic storage container to prevent moisture damage. Another option to consider is dedicating the top shelf of your storage or linen closet to holiday linens, towels, blankets, pillows etc. Place a few dryer sheets in between your items to keep them smelling fresh until next year.
- Decorations that you’ll have to reassemble next year – Before taking down Christmas decorations that you had to assemble in order to display, take pictures of them the way you set them up so you can remember how to do it next year. Then take everything down and or disassemble in the reverse order of the way you set it all up.
- Christmas candles – Wrap each candle in an old stocking, sock, tissue paper or a plastic shopping bag to prevent scratching. Store together in a box or storage container. Be sure to store away from heat sources such as an attic where heat could melt the candles.
- Label the storage boxes – Tape a detailed list of what is inside each box to the outside of the box so you can quickly determine what is inside when it is time to decorate next year. Clearly number the boxes so you know how many you have (for example, Box 2 of 9). Use the number order to identify which boxes should be unpacked first next winter. Box 1 should be prominently labeled and contain all the things you’ll need at the beginning of the holiday season like your advent calendar and the holiday greeting cards that you’ll be sending to family and friends if you bought them on clearance this year.
With these holiday storage tips and a little planning and effort, you can organize and store your holiday decorations in an efficient manner that will make them easy to find and display next year.
Are you planning to decorate your home, yard and garage with those old strings of incandescent lights this holiday season? According to the St. Louis County Health Department, it is time to make the switch to LED lights. Most strings of incandescent lights are wrapped with a hard plastic PVC coating, which protects the wire inside. This coating is a problem for our landfills taking up to 500 years to breakdown. In addition, PVC is heat resistant and sometimes contains metals such as lead, cadmium and tin that are harmful once they make it into the ground.
So what are the benefits of using LED lights for your holiday decorating and light displays? Consider the following facts about LED lighting as reported by the St. Louis County Health Department:
- LED lights use one tenth of the energy when compared to a traditional strand of holiday mini-lights. Using less energy means a lower electric bill.
- They last two times longer than incandescent lights – that’s up to 20 years!
- LEDs can withstand, heat, cold and moisture making them ideal for outdoor displays.
- These energy efficient lights are cool to the touch reducing the risk of fire.
- The brightness of LED lights does not fade over time.
- They are durable and harder to break than traditional holiday lights.
- LEDs can be found at most home improvement centers and hardware stores.
Before you throw those old light strands in the trash, check locally for a recycling/collection program. Many hardware stores and home improvement stores offer collection programs, and some even give a discount on the purchase of new LED holiday lights for every strand of old lights you recycle.
So, be earth-friendly this holiday season and decorate your house, garage and yard with LED lights.
If you enjoy decorating your home, garage and yard for the holidays, The Garage Plan Shop has a few tips for decorating and storage of your light displays and other holiday décor.
- Begin by going through all of last year’s décor. Get rid of strands of lights that don’t work (some hardware stores and home improvement centers collect non-working strands of lights and give a discount if you purchase new LED lights), throw away broken or weathered decorations. Remember to recycle anything you can. Replace any items that you discarded with new items you’ll need for your outdoor holiday display this year.
- If you like the way you decorated your yard, porch, garage, etc., take photos of this year’s display. You don’t need to print the pictures. Just save them on your computer and reference them next year. This way you won’t have to figure out just how you made your display looks so good last year.
- When the holidays are over and it is time to pack your lights and decorations, group them by the area in which they were used and place them is separate boxes or storage containers. Label the containers, i.e. “roof,” “porch,” “garage,” “yard,” etc. When it is time to decorate outside next year, you’ll already know which decorations are for what part of your home or yard. If you decide to print the photos mentioned in Tip # 1, include the photos in the corresponding boxes of decorations so you’ll have them for a reference.
With these holiday organization and storage tips, decorating the exterior of your house and your yard will be a snap next year!
While the kids are off school for the holidays, serve this breakfast favorite. Everyone at The Garage Plan Shop has been enjoying this tasty breakfast treat for years.
Monkey Bread Recipe
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 (7.5 oz) cans refrigerated buttermilk biscuits
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¾ cup butter or margarine, melted
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12-cup fluted tube pan. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a plastic food-storage bag.
2. Separate dough into 30 biscuits and cut each one into quarters. Shake in bag to coat and arrange in pan.
3. Mix brown sugar and melted butter and pour over biscuits.
4. Bake 28-32 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in the center.
5. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
6. Turn upside down onto serving plate. Pull apart to serve. Serve warm.
Makes approximately 12 servings.
Visit our blog next week for more holiday recipes.