High Contrast Mode:

Top 10 DIY Home Tips for the Holidays

Top 10 DIY Home Tips for the Holidays

Winter is here, which means it is time for the holidays. As the days tick off before your guests arrive, then you may find yourself looking for some DIY home tips and tricks to get ready for your friends, family and any other guests that you'll be entertaining.

Don't worry!

It'll be fine.

For those homeowners that are feeling a little anxious, here are 10 of the most useful DIY home preparation and home maintenance tips to keep your skills fresh and your guests happy!

DIY Home Improvement Skills Needed For Holiday Guests

For homeowners hosting during the holidays, the last thing we want is something to go wrong while our guests are visiting.

Some of us will keep our fingers crossed that the toilet works and our guests remain warm. For those that want some reassurance, here are a couple of DIY home improvement skills to ensure you are ready to entertain!

1. Seal Drafty Doors & Windows

Although a few extra visitors will heat up your home, you still do not want any guests sleeping or dining in drafty rooms. Luckily, there are some easy ways to address in time for visitors.

Head to your nearest home improvement store and purchase any of the following, which are all inexpensive and easily removed in the spring.

  • Shrink-film kits
  • Rope caulk
  • Self-adhesive weatherstripping
  • Draft snakes

Following the holidays, then consider a home energy audit to find all of these air gaps in your home.

2. Find a Leak

Any leak, such as sinks, tubs, showers, toilets, water heaters, pipes, even a relatively minor leak will wreak havoc over time. Especially with guests, you don't want a minor leak to turn into a major issue with visitors in your home.

The tell-tale signs of any leak are stains or buckling/warping of the floor around them. The easiest way to spot a leak is simply walking your house floor by floor, looking for stains, or buckling on the ceiling. If you find such a spot, trace it up to the next floor and find the water source closest to it. This is likely to be the cause of your leak.

If you can't identify a source for your suspected leak, then it is likely coming from the plumbing inside your walls.

  • To test for this, close the shut-off valves for all water sources in your home.
  • Then go to your water meter and mark the position of the "1 cubic foot" dial.
  • Wait an hour and check the dial again.
  • If the dial has moved, you have a leak in your water supply lines.

Of course, if you spot a stain, but are unsure of how to check the source, then you can always call your trusted plumber.

3. Shut Off the Main Water Valve

Every home has individual shut-off valves near sinks and toilets, but closing the main shutoff valve will ensure that no water enters any pipe in your house.

This is incredibly important to know whenever you are working with any plumbing in your home.

The valve will be near where the water supply enters your home, such as in the basement, on an outdoor wall, or in an underground utility box. Turn the knob or lever clockwise and you'll cut off the water supply.

4. Stop an Overflowing Toilet

Clogged drains, both in the kitchen and in the bathroom, happen during the holidays. In particular, if there are extra guests in your home, then the shower and toilets will get additional use and drainage issues might occur.

If you see the bowl filling, take off the top of the tank, grab the float (the black rubber ball at the end of a lever), and pull it up. This action closes the valve that lets clean water into the bowl, buying you time to turn off the toilet's water source and use a plunger to clear the mess.

Running toilets are one of the most common plumbing problems, so if you hear running water, then try to fix it sooner rather than later.

5. Fix Annoying Doors

Nobody wants to hear a squeaky door while visiting or have a swing door hit them during the holiday dinner. Fortunately, there are some simple fixes to these problems.

To fix a swinging door:

  • Close the door and get to work on the side where the hinges are visible.
  • Using a shim to keep the door steady, position a large nail under the top (or middle) hinge pin and hammer upward to coax the pin from its hinge.
  • Remove the pin and put a slight bend to the hinge by hammering it gently at its middle; this bend should create enough friction to prevent the door from swinging.
  • To finish the job, simply drop the pin back into its hinge.

To fix a squeaky door:

  • Follow the steps above to remove the hinge pins from your noisy door.
  • Coat the pins in white lithium grease or petroleum jelly.
  • Reinstall the pins, then open and close the door a few times to let the grease work its way into the hinges' nooks and crannies.

DIY Home Projects to Prep for the Holidays

If you feel anxious during the holidays because you want to ensure everyone loves your home as much as you do?

If so, here are some DIY home tips to provide sufficient space and give your home a nice fresh look!

6. Add Shelves

One really effective (plus cheap and easy) way to add space is to build shelves into the wall.


Rooms, such as the living room or family room, will feel bigger with decorated walls because shelves give the eye more to look at.

Find the right-sized plank of painted wood to add more storage and shelf space to show off your personal style (or last year's gifts!). For greater effect, use as much of the wall as possible.

7. Hang Pictures

To avoid your brother or mother-in-law from nagging about tilted pictures, then learn how to properly hang a picture this holiday season.

  • Starting from the ground up.
  • Measure to 57 inches (or up to 63 inches, depending on preference) and mark it with a pencil.
  • Measure the height of your frame and divide it by half -- this is the location that will sit centered on the 57-inch mark you just made. (For example, if your frame is 18 inches, the center point is at 9 inches).

Frames will either have a wire to hang it on, or you can use the frame itself. Either way, measure how far down the nail will sit from the top of the frame (usually about 1 or 2 inches). Next, subtract this amount from your center point.

Finally, add that much space directly above your 57-inch center point and mark it with your pencil. That's the spot where you nail your nail!

8. Find a Stud

No, not that type of stud!

Wall studs are traditionally 16 inches apart, but in some older homes, studs might be 12 or 24 inches apart.

Many people utilize the "tap" method of stud-finding, where you knock on the wall listening for the solid sound of a stud as opposed to the hollow sound of the rest of the wall.

To use this stud-finding method, mark the general spot on your wall where you want to hang something (like a picture!).

  • From a corner of the room, use a measuring tape to mark 12, 16, and 24 inches from the corner.
  • Next, tap at each point to compare the sounds you hear and when you've found the one that sounds solid, you've found a stud!
  • Now all you need to do is continue measuring using the appropriate increment (12, 16, or 24, depending on where you heard the solid sound) until you find the stud closest to where you wanted to hang your item.

9. Clean Chandeliers & Awkward Items

Many homes have decorative items or intricate lights, such as chandeliers, which are difficult to clean.


It is tough to maneuver a duster or dust cloth into the nooks and crannies, but gloves can get you around these difficulties.

To help avoid an aunt or uncle making a funny face at your lights, then put on a pair of white cotton gloves and simply run your hands over the items in question.

If you need to use a cleaning solution on a particular item, you can spray the cleaner on one of your gloves, and use your other gloved hand to dry.


Being able to grasp the contours of intricate items makes the process much simpler and more effective.

10. Paint the Door

The front door is one of the most important pieces of your home. In fact, one study indicated that the front door had the greatest psychological effect on whether buyers would buy a home out of all other exterior amenities.

Simply adding a fresh coat of paint to the front door has been shown to have an enormous effect on the curb value of a home because it can change the entire look of your home.

After all, it is the first thing your guests will see when they visit!