As anyone knows, there are about a million and twelve things to do when the holidays hit, everything from finishing holiday gift shopping to trying to remember to pack everything you need. But before you go, make sure you cross each one of these tasks off your to-do list.
1. Clean out stinky spots
The trash cans (not just the kitchen one — think about cans in your bathrooms, office or bedrooms), dishwasher, fridge and coffee maker can all be nightmares to come home to if they've been left full of stuff to rot and get stinky while you're away. Empty them all out before you go, but also give them a quick swipe to clean them.
2. Security check
Doors, windows, garage door — are they all closed and locked? Are blinds and curtains closed? Are you leaving a car at your place? Make sure you don't have any valuables in sight. Leave a light on or check your light timer. Can you go a step farther and lock gates to your home and other entrances, too? Make a quick sketch of your floor plan and all the things that need locking, and make check marks as you walk around the house. You can keep that sheet with you as you get on the road in case you get any of those "did I lock that?" feelings.
3. Save energy and protect from damage
Unplug all your electronics. Check the heating system and your water heater — are they turned down low to save energy? Even consider shutting off the water lines to your washing machines to avoid leaks or accidents while you're away. Make sure all your appliances are turned off like the stove, oven, coffee maker and others.
4. Water plants
Give all your green lovelies a nice long drink before you go, and move them to the optimal spot in your home — where the best light is and a spot where they won't get cold drafts (if that's something they wouldn't like).
5. Make sure your neighbors have the info they need
If your neighbors are watching your home for you while you're away, make sure they have keys to everything, phone numbers (and alternative numbers) to reach you if there's ever a problem. If they're watering plants, make sure they know how much and when to do it. Let them know if you'll need the garbage cans brought in or to the curb. Typing up a quick FAQ sheet to leave for them is often helpful.
What do you make sure you put on your "before you leave the house" to-do list?