How to Save on Holiday Home Prep

“The summer heat is quickly fading, and before we know it, the leaves on the trees will start to turn. That means holiday season is just around the corner. If your family is anything like mine, holiday season is hectic season. From Halloween on, it will be a nonstop parade of people and activities all the way through to the New Year. Is your home ready for the change in seasons?

I’ll admit, I’m not quite ready yet. But, I have a plan that will save me money and hassle, and I’m happy to share it with you.


Now is the perfect time to open up all the windows in the house, let in the cool, fresh air, and clean the place. It’s probably something I picked up from my mom, but we never touched any of the seasonal decorations until after the house had a thorough cleaning. Mind you, this is not your typical weekend cleaning, either. It involves moving the furniture around, brushing the baseboards and corners that usually get ignored and dealing with the dust bunnies living under beds and rugs. Your guests with allergies will appreciate your hard work.

Cleaning on this scale gives you a chance to think about how traffic flows through your rooms and opens opportunities to give each room a free makeover. It’s amazing what rearranging the furniture can do for a room that you’ve been living in for years. Fall cleaning also sets the stage for the pretty seasonal decorations that make this time of year so special. Plot, plan and imagine while you’re cleaning.

Take inventory:

Once you’re in cleaning mode, it’s much easier to motivate yourself to pull all of your seasonal décor out of storage and sort through it. Never shop for holiday decor without going through the holiday boxes first. You will avoid the impulse to buy things you already have and can plan ahead for the things you need to replace.

Don’t stop with just your fall and Halloween items. Go through Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s and even Valentine’s Day if you have it. Making your way through all of it early will help you to see how to repurpose and use seasonal items in ways you’ve never used them before. Refreshing your memory early also sets you up for the next step.


Admit it; you have a couple of friends or family members that have a few seasonal pieces you totally adore. If you get the jump on cleaning and inventory, you have the opportunity to organize a seasonal swap. Don’t limit the swap to just the strictly seasonal stuff. This is a chance for all of you to rethink pillows, throws, lamps, art, rugs and guest bedding. Exchanging just a few key pieces could be all it takes to reinvigorate a room without spending a dime.

Returning the swap at the end of the season becomes the reminder to take advantage of the post-holiday markdowns. You’ll get up to 80 percent off brand new seasonal items and the fun of unpacking those goodies when you do the inventory dive next year.

Make small changes:

Now that you’ve gotten your seasonal stuff sorted, take a look around the house for opportunities to make small changes. Rather than repaint the whole room, what about repainting the trim or adding a contrasting feature wall? As you start to think about how your rooms function for guests, you may find there are little things that need to be repaired or updated. Don’t turn it into a big make-over. Keep the projects small and you’ll accomplish them quickly without a big expenditure of time or money.

Do little things:

What little details will make out-of-town guests feel most welcome in your home? The little things make all the difference, and they usually require more thought than money. Take a trip to the dollar store to stock up on tissues, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, shampoo, conditioner and all of the other little sundries that you would find in a well-appointed hotel room. Planning ahead will save money and time running around for those last-minute things that are often forgotten when packing.

Seasonal fragrance is another little detail that can make a big impact. Don’t forget to evoke those memories of grandma’s homemade pies and cookies. Spending $5 to $10 on candles, scented oils or potpourri can makeover a space even when you don’t have a budget for lots of decorations.

Knowledge is power when it comes to decking the halls and saving money. Now that you have the holiday entertaining basics covered, you can keep an eagle eye out for the amazing deals on seasonal items yet to come.”

This article was posted by U.S. News & World Report blogger, Michelle Stinson Ross, “The Frugal Shopper” on Sept. 29, 2014. The original post can be found here.