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Quick Fixes to Make Before Holiday Guests Arrive

Make sure your home is in top shape for festivities with friends and family

You Can Get the Job Done

The holidays are right around the corner and now is the time to take care of the improvements you've been procrastinating about all year long. From dead doorbells and jammed doors, to caulking the bath and replacing broken tiles, here are our top quick fixes, and all the information you need to get the job done right.

Fix a Doorbell

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Don't leave holiday guests waiting out in the cold. Make sure your doorbell is in working order before they come ringing. It could be the fault of a worn outside button. But it's also possible that the chime or transformer have stopped working. For full step-by-step instructions to help you find and fix the problem, see How to Fix a Doorbell.

Fix a Worn Concrete Walkway

Photo by Ryan Benyi

Make safe passage for party guests this holiday season. If there are cracks and pits in your concrete, but your walkway isn't cracked all the way through, you can coat the slab with a concrete resurfacer. Its natural color is dark gray, so buy enough to cover your entire walk. If you want a different color, just add a concrete tint. Here's How to Resurface Worn Concrete in just 4 easy steps.

Install a Garage Floodlight

Photo by Richard Howard

Not to be a party pooper, but the holiday season is a favorite of home intruders. One of the simplest, most effective ways to enhance the safety and security of your home is to add a motion-sensor floodlight above the garage door. The dual-lamp model installed here comes on automatically if something—or someone—crosses its field of vision. The upgrade will also come in handy to welcome late-arriving family members coming home for the holidays. For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Install a Garage Floodlight.

Fix a Newel Post

Photo by Julian Wass

Staircase handrails rely on the newel post—the large post that anchors the balustrade at the bottom of the staircase—for support. If the post is loose, the railing becomes wobbly and offers little support for guests climbing the stairs to turn in for the night. Here's How to Repair a Loose Newel Post.

Fix a Bedroom Door Latch

Photo by Kolin Smith

Wood-frame houses tend to settle and shift over time, which can knock door frames out of square. As a result, it might become tough to lock a door because the bolt no longer lines up with the strike plate. Give overnight guests a sense of privacy and security with How to Realign Dead Bolts and Strike Plates.

Fix a Sticking Door

Photo by Craig Raine

Doors shift with time and age, and some become so out of alignment they stick when opened and closed. But the remedy is just a few quick tricks away. Here's How to Fix a Sticking Door in just an hour.

Recaulk Your Bathroom

Photo by David Carmack

You've seen the ominous signs of aging caulk. First it was the brown tinge along the edges. Now its smooth and supple skin has turned brittle and cracked, opening the way for stubborn colonies of mildew to take hold. Whether it's around your sink, between a tub and its tile surround, or covering the joints of your shower stall, it has got to go before your overnight guests use the bathroom. Fortunately, caulk is cheap, and applying it isn't difficult. For full step-by-step instructions on laying a professional-looking bead, here's How to Caulk Around a Tub.

Fix a Running Toilet

Geoffrey Gross

That annoying, nonstop trickling sound that wastes gallons of water each day shouldn't keep your visitors awake at night. Make sure your guest bath is in top shape by adjusting the right parts inside the tank to stop the flow. Check out How to Fix a Running Toilet to watch TOH plumbing expert Richard Trethewey make the fix. It's so easy, you don't even need any tools.

Fix a Broken Tile

Photo by William A. Boyd

A floor covered with ceramic tile is about as durable and low-maintenance a surface as you can get—until you drop the wrench when tightening that elbow joint under the bathroom sink. But even then, replacing a broken or chipped tile is pretty simple to do. For full step-by-step instructions to do the job with professional results, see How to Replace a Broken Tile.

Fix a Dripping Bathroom Faucet

Photo by Craig Raine

Droplets from a two-handled bathroom faucet falling with the relentless beat of a metronome is not a welcoming sound for your guests. Spare your visitors the persistent drip, drip, drip with just 30 minutes of work. For full step-by-step instructions, see How to Repair a Dripping Faucet.

Fix a Garbage Disposer

Photo by Courtesy of InSinkErator

If you've come to depend on your sink disposer, you probably want to be sure it's in fine working order in case the big holiday feast does a number on it. Take a few minutes to watch TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey explain How to Repair a Garbage Disposer in just three steps.

Install a Dishwasher

Photo by Kolin Smith

You won't be getting many volunteers willing to scrub pots when your spectacular holiday feast puts everyone in a food coma. Make your life a little easier with this quick upgrade. In How to Install a Dishwasher, learn how you can swap an old inefficient model for a new one that'll pay you back by saving water and energy. You can do it in just an hour.

Patch a Wood Floor

Photo by Jeff Greff

Get your living space picture perfect for the holidays. TOH general contractor Tom Silva shows you How to Patch Strip Flooring in as little as two hours.

Upgrade to BiFold Closet Doors

Bifold closet design idea. Photo by Kolin Smith

It seems every house built since the 1950s has closets with sliding doors. Space-saving, sure, but not the best-looking detail in your tricked-out guest room. See How to Install Bifold Doors to learn how you can get rid of old sliders and replace them with these beautiful alternatives.

Fix a Sliding Closet Door

Photo by iStockPhoto

Got a stubborn, sticky sliding closet door? TOH general contractor Tom Silva can get a door gliding again in as little as an hour. See How to Repair Wood Closet Doors to learn how you can do it too.

Fix a Cracked Window Pane

Photo by Kindra Clineff

An errant baseball, a hurled stone, or a falling branch is all it takes to end the life of a windowpane. For most modern, double-glazed windows, that means a trip to the local glass shop for repairs. But if your home still has old-fashioned, single-glazed wood sashes, you can easily replace the pane yourself. For full step-by-step instructions, see .

Clean the Windows

Photo by Kenneth Chen

Cleaning up before the in-laws arrive will be pointless if you still leave a film of filth on the living room windows. Wipe off the grime without leaving unsightlyl streaks behind; find out the trick to getting professional-looking results with How to Wash Windows Like a Pro.

Draft-Proof Windows and Doors

Photo by Russell Kaye

Keep guests comfortable by plugging up old windows to block drafts. The fix could also help you save between $50 and $170 a year on your heating bills. Watch TOH general contractor Tom Silva Insulate a Window with Sash Weights. Then grab some more pointers for draft-proofing from How to Make Your Doors Draft-Free, Drape Away Drafts, and Detecting Drafts With an Energy Audit.