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Your November home checklist: Get ready for guests

Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, here's how to roll out the welcome mat for visitors, kids, and pets this month.



It’s November! You can practically smell the turkey, taste the pumpkin-spiced lattes, and see family and friends gathering to eat, drink, and give thanks for the good in their lives. 

If you’re planning to entertain visitors this month, our November checklist will help you make your home guest-ready. It’s packed with tips for avoiding trouble—emptying overstuffed fridges, fixing wobbly chair legs, and unclogging troubled toilets—as well as hacks to help you roll out the holiday welcome mat in style.


Whatever’s on your to-do list, “it pays to have a trusted handyperson by your side—someone to do fix-it tasks so you can focus on menu planning and pillow fluffing.

Home-improvement expert Don Vandervort of HomeTips.com

“At $40–80 per hour, these pros can get your November home maintenance tasks done in time for the party,” Vandervort says.

Not sure where to start? This month’s checklist makes it easy. Here are the top 20 home maintenance tips to tackle before your big gathering.


Prep the kitchen

Organizing your fridge in advance can smooth meal planning and cleanup.

When entertaining friends and family during the holidays, it’s important to get your kitchen ready for a heavy workload, and lots of foot traffic.

  • Clean and organize your refrigerator. The fridge is home base for holiday food storage, so you’ll need to make room for a lot of ingredients and big dishes. Organization expert Marie Kondo recommends tossing expired foods, placing shorter items toward the front and taller ones toward the back, and keeping 30% of the space empty for leftovers. Good hack: The night before your big event, make room by storing drinks, salad fixings, and less-perishable items in coolers filled with ice packs. 
  • Deep-clean the kitchen. Take advantage of your dishwasher for sanitizing, Vandervort suggests. “Use it to clean glass fridge shelves, metal oven racks, range hood filters…you name it,” he advises. For a thorough, deep cleaning, contact a kitchen cleaning service. Expect to pay $70–185, depending on the size of your kitchen and amount of grime caked on your appliances and hidden surfaces.
  • Check appliances. Make sure your ovens, stovetop, garbage disposal, and microwave are in good working order. The oven is key: Check its thermostat by placing an inexpensive, oven-safe thermometer at the center of the middle rack and setting the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Let the oven heat for 20 minutes, then note the temperature every 20 minutes for 1½ hours. If the average temp isn’t 350 degrees, adjust your settings on the dial, or—better—call an oven repair professional. 

Get the dining and family rooms ready

Make sure your family room is organized for post-feast entertainment.
Photo: Modern Smart Home, Chandler, Pennsylvania

After the big feast, guests will retreat to the family room for conversation and sports viewing. Make sure the space is set up for maximum comfort and minimum spills and scratches.

  • Clean the carpets. If your family or guests end up hanging out on the floor for playing games and watching TV, make sure the carpets are clean and stain-free. Non-toxic “green” carpet cleaning, using products without harsh chemicals, is the healthiest choice for people and pets. Learn more: Cost of carpet cleaning and steam cleaning.
  • Protect your floors. Guests will also congregate in the kitchen and dining area. Place felt pad floor protectors on chairs around the dining table if you have hardwood floors, suggests Vandervort. “The best type are self-adhesive felt pads that glide on the floor without scratching or scuffing.” Wobbly chair legs? Tighten the fasteners that attach legs, or, for loose wooden legs, re-glue with 2-part epoxy. For any and all furniture repairs, contact a furniture repair shop near you. Learn more: Cost of furniture repair.
  • Check your fireplace. If it’s gas-fired, make sure it lights and delivers an even flame. For wood-burning fireplaces, be sure firewood is dry and ready to use. Clean glass fireplace doors with a damp newspaper that has been dipped in powdery dry ash, then spritz with water and dry with paper towels. Before using the fireplace for the first time this season, make sure the damper is open so smoke doesn’t fill your home. Need help? Call a fireplace repair service near you. Learn more: Complete guide to home fireplace safety.
  • Set up and test your TV or home entertainment system. Check that it’s delivering a good picture and sound, so you can watch that big game, parade, or holiday special. And make sure you subscribe to the needed streaming services. If you’ve been considering a home theater system, Pre-Black Friday sales may be a great time to pull the trigger.

Prepare a friendly welcome

Friendly, layered welcome mats set the stage for warm guest arrivals. 

Greet your guests with the VIP treatment from curb to front door. Get started with these ideas:

  • Arrange for parking. Before your event, send guests parking instructions. If you’re having a big gathering and parking is scarce, consider hiring a valet service. If guests will park in your driveway, get it cleaned and take care of any needed repairs.
  • Decorate the entryway. Replace your worn-out doormat with a fun new one. Better yet, layer your doormats. Adding a small 2×3-foot rug under a 18×30-inch mat is a trendy way to welcome guests. Add pizzazz to the front door with a holiday wreath of colorful fall leaves.
  • Test the doorbell. Don’t leave your guests out in the cold trying to buzz a non-working doorbell. Get it repaired, or if it costs too much, you’re better off buying a new one. Quick fix: Buy a DIY wireless doorbell online for under $20. Learn more: Cost of doorbell repair and installation.
  • Light the way. For guests’ safety and security, make sure your driveway and walkways have good landscape lighting. You can inexpensively brighten them up with festive luminaries—traditional path lighting contained in paper lanterns, decorated cans, and other ornamental items. Be sure to reset outdoor lighting timers when daylight saving time ends on November 6. For more outdoor lighting ideas, see Cost of outdoor lighting
  • Create slip-proof stairs and paths. Stairs and paths may ice over in November. Make walking safer with eco-friendly calcium chloride ice-melt pellets—compared to rock salt, they’re less likely to damage concrete or plants and won’t irritate pets’ paws. Also consider rolling out non-slip snow-and-ice mats on walkways and stairs. And make sure railings are secure by tightening down bolts.

Set the indoor scene

Before humans and their furry family members arrive, you’ll want to smooth the way for a comfortable, safe visit. Here’s how:

  • Make a space for outerwear. To keep water and mud off your floors, designate a place for family and guests to hang coats, leave umbrellas, and slip off shoes or boots. At minimum, you’ll need a coat rack, a chair or bench for removing footwear, and an umbrella stand. Extra touch: Add a decorative mirror, so guests can fix their hat hair before joining the festivities. 
  • Be sure the toilet flushes properly and there’s a plunger next to it. It’ll be the most-used (and possibly abused) utility among guests. If you have old pipes, add a decorative framed sign alerting visitors to be mindful of what they’re flushing. Check that the sink and tub drain completely, and call a plumber to fix any clogs well in advance of your event—finding an available plumber during the holidays can be very challenging. Learn more: Cost of hiring a plumber
  • Prepare for kiddos. Will toddlers be visiting? Kid-cidents are a common risk during the holidays. Install basic childproofing locks on accessible kitchen and bath cabinet doors—or bind door handles together using strong rubber bands. Have a baby gate on hand to keep small children away from stairs. And remember to put breakables, treasures, and sharp or pointed objects well out of reach.
  • Set up for Fido. Holiday gatherings can freak out your pets. “Provide your cat or dog with a quiet room or crate during holiday parties and prepare ahead of time to discourage barking,” the Humane Society advises. Let your visitors know that furry friends will be around, especially if they have allergies. For additional holiday pet recommendations, see HumaneSociety.org.

November tasks for your region

Be prepared for colder weather across the country this month.

Regardless of where you live in the US, you’ll be setting back the clock and waking up to darker, colder weather (with a few warm exceptions, such as Arizona and Hawaii). Your local climate will dictate the home chores to tackle first. Here are some regional home-maintenance tips:

  • Northeast, Midwest, and Northwest. In the Great Lakes, Northeast, or North Central states, prepare now for what is expected to be a very cold winter—the Farmer’s Almanac predicts that temperatures could dip 40 degrees below zero in January. Tune up your furnace, and make sure your home is sufficiently weatherstripped and insulated by contacting an insulation contractor. In the Northwest, be sure your roof and gutters are ready for rain.
  • Western US and fire zones. As fire danger lessens with wetter weather, be prepared for mudslides in areas that have had fires—make sure your yard is graded to drain water away from the house.
  • Southern US. Be prepared for heavy rains from the Southern Great Plains down through the Mississippi River Valley. Roofs, gutters, downspouts, and drainage need to be in top shape for handling runoff.
  • Atlantic Coast and Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane season continues until the end of the month—continue to keep an emergency kit handy and disaster preparations ready if you live in a hurricane-prone area. Learn more: Preparing your house for a hurricane

Find an experienced handyperson near you to help with November home-maintenance tasks. 

In case you missed it: Essential fall home maintenance

You still have some time to clean gutters and prepare your roof for winter rains. 
Photo: Gopher Gutter Cleaning, Minneapolis

Our October home maintenance checklist is a good a reminder of essential monthly home-maintenance tasks you may have skipped or delayed:

  • Seed the lawn, trim trees, and clean up fallen leaves.
  • Prepare for weather changes by cleaning gutters, repairing the roof, and putting in storm windows and doors.
  • Have your furnace checked and change filters.
  • Practice fire safety. Check smoke detectors, get your chimney swept, and have lint cleaned from the dryer vent.

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