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Chicago’s Ultimate Prep List for Getting Your Home Ready for the Holidays

Thanksgiving is almost here, and if you’re like us, you’re probably excited to spend extra time with family and friends but are dreading getting the house ready. We get it, there’s a million and one things to do and never enough time to do them all. It seems like there’s always something big that slips through the cracks. But not this year. This year, you’re going to be the queen of holiday prep. Seriously, your friends are going to be so jealous of how together you have it.

We made the ultimate list of things you need to do over the next few days and weeks to get your house ready for the festivities, and we even threw in some of our favorite ways for you to save while you do it.


Let’s skip the obvious. We’ll all remember to clean the house before we decorate and have guests over. This is your deep-cleaning reminder. We’re not trying to impress just anyone. This year we’re going to impress the picky aunts and meticulous in-laws. To get your house to Monica Geller, clean don’t forget to clean these areas of the house:

  • Baseboards
  • Light switches
  • Windowsills
  • Oven (inside and out)
  • Doorknobs
  • Shower curtain
  • Fridge
  • Walls
  • Remote
  • Pillows
  • Inside closets
  • Outdoor lights
  • Mattress
  • Dishwasher
  • Garbage disposal
  • Bath fan grill
  • Trash can
  • Washer and dryer
  • Toothbrush holder
  • Coffee maker
  • Toilet brush and plunger
  • Under the fridge
  • Faucet aerators
  • Clutter

It can be a lot of work to get all these extra things cleaned, but luckily, we’re weeks out from Thanksgiving. Recruiting help from the kids is a great idea if they’re old enough. You could also crack open a bottle of wine (or two) with your bestie and have some laughs while you get the job done. If you’re too busy to possibly get everything done — like most of us are — you can always get extra help from cleaning businesses. Bonus: You get to support local, while taking tasks off your plate.

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Sprucing Up the Exterior

First impressions are everything, right? Start the holiday visits off right by having a spotless inside and outside of your home. Don’t forget to do these things to set your house apart.

  • Rake the leaves
  • Power-wash the siding
  • Put trash cans away
  • Clean up toys
  • Clean the gutters
  • Touch up paint
  • Wash windows
  • Sweep and wash the porch
  • Pull and dispose of dead weeds/flowers
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Planning for Houseguests

We all love spending time with family (at least for a week or so), and we want them to feel comfortable and at home when they’re visiting. Put the extra time in getting the house ready now, so you can enjoy family time later.

  • Make up the guest bedroom or make room for guests to settle in
  • Declutter
  • Stock the bedside table with water, the Wi-Fi password and tissues
  • Childproof the house
  • Stock up on toiletries
  • Clear a drawer
  • Put out fresh towels
  • Set out extra blankets and pillows
  • Make plugs accessible
  • Set out a welcome snack

Stocking Up on Essentials

Don’t be the host that has no conditioner or can’t give a guest a bandage. Stock up on the essentials and save yourself from making countless trips to the store.

  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper Towels
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dishwashing detergent and dish soap
  • Extra razors and toothbrushes
  • Q-tips
  • First aid supplies
Snuggle, Clorox, Glade, Dove and More Household Essentials


Every year, it seems like we make 20 trips to the store to get supplies to decorate the house. Save time and make just one trip to the store by getting the following decorating essentials.

  • Thumb tacks
  • Command strips
  • Holiday lights
  • Light bulb replacements
  • Nails and screws
  • Tape
  • Extension cords
  • Spray snow
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Bulbs
  • Ornament hooks
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Getting the Kitchen Ready

There’s nothing worse than waking up at 5 a.m. to get your butt cooking all day long, just to pull out a cold turkey at dinnertime. Make sure your kitchen appliances are working and you have all the supplies you need to have a rocking holiday dinner.

  • Check oven temperature
  • Stock up on storage bags, saran wrap, storage containers and other food preservation materials
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Stock your kitchen with food, baking essentials and spices
  • Create a cooking schedule
  • Declutter kitchen counters
  • Check your dishwasher efficiency
  • Get your serving utensils ready (sharpen knives, take inventory of serving spoons, make sure your meat thermometer works)
  • Inventory plates, silverware, cups, etc.
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Setting the Menu

Planning holiday dinners gets about as intricate as diffusing a bomb. OK, so maybe it’s not that serious, but it is one of the most important parts of the holidays. Everything revolves around dinner. Use this list and dinner won’t just be smooth sailing, but you’ll finally get to enjoy a hot meal on a holiday.

  • Shop early
  • Consider allergies, dietary restrictions and food preferences
  • Grab grocery coupons
  • Get extras — you can always donate unused food to food pantries
  • Make a cooking schedule
  • Determine who will bring dishes and what ones you will make
  • Have a backup plan in case the main course burns
Hellmann’s, Pillsbury, Ben & Jerry’s and More Grocery Coupons

Making Repairs

There are projects we put off all year long. Although guests might not notice, you’ll feel less self-conscious about the condition of your home if you take care of the small repairs that bug you ahead of holiday gatherings.

  • Touching up paint
  • Fixing squeaky doors and stairs
  • Tightening cupboard screws
  • Leaky pipes
  • Sticky doors or windows
  • Secure loose rails
  • Snip wayward carpet strands
  • Repairing heating, cooling, sewage or other systems
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Securing Safety

You never know what will happen when you get your wild and crazy family together in one place. Make sure your house has much-needed safety precautions in place.

  • Check fire alarm
  • Check carbon monoxide detector
  • Check fire extinguisher
  • Update evacuation plan
  • Have flashlights and batteries
  • Stock your first aid kit
  • Update and post emergency numbers
  • Childproof the house

Our final bit of advice for having the most laid-back, stress-free holiday is to plan ahead and stick to it. Or in other works, make your list and check it twice. Happy holidays from your SaveOn family. Don’t forget to check out our site for more local savings so you can live life for less.

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