1. Deep clean the kitchen
With Thanksgiving coming up later this month, now is a great time to give your kitchen a thorough cleaning before the mad cooking rush begins. Run your oven's self-cleaning cycle, pull your fridge away from the wall and vacuum the coils in the back, and get on a stepladder to clean your range hood and cabinet tops.
2. Donate to a food bank
While cleaning your pantry, set aside unexpired foods that you know you won't use for your local food bank. And when you're doing your Thanksgiving shopping, consider picking up a bagful of extra holiday dinner supplies to donate – this time of year can be especially hard for families in need.
3. Check entertaining supplies and restock as needed
If you're hosting for Thanksgiving or another big fete this year, think through your menu in advance. Check to make sure you have all of the cooking tools, cookware and table-setting supplies you'll need. It's better to know now if you don't have a turkey baster or enough baking sheets.
4. Add entryway storage
If clutter is getting out of control, beef up your mudroom and entryway with baskets and bins big enough to handle the piles of scarves, mittens and outerwear that are bound to accumulate near the door.
5. Use a humidifier if needed
With the heat going and the windows shut, the air inside can get dry at this time of year. Dry air is the root of many things – from more static electricity to more frequent or worsened colds. Adding a humidifier is an easy way to help prevent these.
6. Replace floor protectors
Chairs scraping your floors? Check their feet: If they don't already have felt floor-protecting pads or if the pads are coming off, pick up a new set. Felt protector pads come in either stick-on or nail-in versions – the stick-on variety is easier to apply. Clean the bottoms of chair feet thoroughly first to make sure the pads stick.
7. Clean and polish woodwork
Keep hardwood floors looking their best by cleaning them and then applying a wood-floor polish. If you have wooden banisters, moldings or trim, polish them annually to bring out their gleam.
8. Prepare guest rooms
Get ready for holiday guests in advance to avoid that last-minute frantic prep. Spending a night in your guest room is a great way to test it out and make sure you have everything on hand a guest might need. Make a note to get small tasks (take duvets to the cleaners, buy extra towels) done sooner rather than later.
9. Check the sump pump
If you have a sump pump in your basement to help in case of flooding, now (before winter storms) is a good time to make sure it is in working order.
10. Close vents in unused rooms
Conserve energy by closing up heating vents in rooms you rarely use, like the guest room or basement. Just remember to reopen the vents if you do have a guest.
11. Inspect walkways, railings and stairs
If you discover any loose or wobbly railings, or cracked walkways, fix them now, before winter weather sets in. Ice, snow and uneven footing are a dangerous combination.
12. Have trees trimmed
Late fall, when branches are more visible, is a good time to have large trees pruned. Trimming branches now can prevent breakage in winter storms later.
13. Do a final leaf removal
Once the last leaves have fallen, do a final clearing of rain gutters and downspouts. Also, be sure to clear off piles of leaves that have collected on the roof and in drainage areas around your property – otherwise they may cause water to pool, which can cause damage.
BONUS: Help your community
As you count your blessings this Thanksgiving, consider also lending a helping hand to those in need by putting charitable giving on your to-do list.
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