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‘Tis the season to be jolly, that’s for sure. But it’s also the season to take care of all of those home maintenance jobs you’ve been avoiding.

You’re probably having a lot of company over for the holidays. It would be a real shame if Christmas dinner were remembered for a broken-down furnace or a burst water pipe. Socializing with friends and family is always a great excuse to do a big cleanup around the house and it’s also a good opportunity to check off some of those bigger items.

1. Get your fireplace checked

Chimney sweeps aren’t just found in old Disney movies. You should get your fireplace checked and swept every year by a certified chimney technician.

Even if you don’t use your fireplace often, leaves and other debris can plug up the chimney. In a worst-case scenario, a plugged chimney could result in smoke inhalation for your guests, so get this taken care of.

2. Check your furnace

Your furnace or heating system is one of those home features you really take for granted until they break down and you’re sitting in a deep-freeze. A broken-down furnace can quickly lead to major problems like pipes freezing and bursting.

Remember that its usually easier to get hold of a professional before the holiday season hits. Learn more about maintaining your furnace.

3. Insulate your home

Drafty walls, doors and windows can bleed heat from your home. Calk up those cracks and seams and put in insulation. You might not have to wear that extra sweater indoors after all, and you might just save a bundle on your heating bill.

4. Install or check your security system

Every year, you hear about some heartless burglars who steal all the presents under the Christmas tree. Criminals know there’s a good chance they’ll find brand-new electronics, jewelry and other items purchased just for the season and they may strike while you’re over for dinner at grandma’s.

Check that your alarm system is working and consider whether you might want to augment your security with a CCTV-camera system just to be on the safe side.

5. Keep that walkway shoveled and salted

Nothing ruins a holiday like a relative breaking their hip on the way into your place (“I thought you said you were going to shovel before company came!”). Avoid a tragedy and a potential lawsuit. And if you have a snowblower, the time to check if it’s working is before you’re so snowed in that you can’t get it fixed or replaced if needed.

If you’re hosting seasonal parties at your home, make sure to give yourself at least a few weeks to get around to all of these activities. The holidays can actually be a stressful time, so pace yourself!

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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.