Things to Do Before You Leave Home for the Holidays

By Christopher Smith


Before you leave home for the holidays, make sure you take care of a few things around the house!

Photo: Getty Images

 With the holiday season approaching fast, you want to make sure that your happy home remains safe until you return from visiting family or taking that winter getaway. The last thing you want springing up in your mind as you head to the airport is whether you locked up the house or made sure to stop the mail. Here are a few things you can take care of before you head out for the holidays to keep your home safe and secure.

Stopping the Mail

Whether you’re taking a short trip or a longer vacation, you should put a pause on mail delivery to your home. Check first with the U.S. Postal Service to make sure that service is available in your area by going to its website. Once you confirm the service is available, you can schedule mail delivery to be stopped up to 30 days in advance. Or, if you’re the procrastinating type, you can schedule a mail hold right up to the day before you leave by calling 1-800-ASK-USPS. When you set your mail hold, you can choose for mail to be delivered to your home once you return or you can pick it up at your local post office.

The USPS also offers a couple of options with holding the mail. One is “Informed Delivery,” which is a free service that allows you to preview letters and packages that are set to arrive so that you can keep an eye on them. If you expect to be on a trip longer than the 30 days that the post office can hold your packages and mail, you can sign up for the “Premium Forwarding” service. Subscribers pay an enrollment fee ($20.10 in office, $18.45 online) and then a weekly fee ($20.10) for each week of the service.

Save Your Energy

One thing you can do to ward off any potential intruders is to leave a light on at home. But doing so means that you run the risk of running up your electricity bill. You can keep your home safe through lighting without adding a hefty charge to your bill by purchasing a programmable wall timer. Or, thanks to the developments in smart home technology, you can obtain a smart plug that will connect to digital home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home and allow you to control your lights remotely.
You can also save energy by unplugging your major appliances and devices — this eliminates the “vampire energy” effect and protects against possible electrical fires. In addition, you should adjust your thermostat relative to exterior temperatures, so that you avoid being surprised by mold taking hold or other climate mishaps in the home.

Protect Your Outdoor Furniture

You won’t know what the weather is like once you’re gone, and you don’t want that patio set that’s the centerpiece of your backyard to get any damage. If you have storage space available, put your outdoor furniture up, or if you don’t, see about covering each piece to protect them from the elements and securing them so that they won’t tempt thieves.

Lock Up Tight

Lastly, make sure that all of your windows and doors are locked. It may seem like the simplest thing to do, but people can and have overlooked taking care of this before they leave. Do a walk-through of your home before you leave to ensure everything is locked. And if you can, contact your local police department to see if they’ll pass by to make sure things are okay at your residence. That way, your holiday trip can truly be a worry-free and enjoyable one!

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Christopher Smith is a freelance writer when he’s not sampling the best cuisine in his hometown of New York City. Prior to that, he worked in film and television post-production, and counts the honor of working with Eartha Kitt among his milestones.

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