Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

With the end of the year fast approaching, you might be tempted to put off routine home maintenance in favor of holiday decor or your resolutions for the new year. Before you start inflating the reindeer, you’ll want to ensure that your home is prepared to weather the winter months by completing a few simple maintenance checks that will save you time and money in the long run. Once you cross these tasks off your to-do list, your home will be cozy and safe—allowing you to say that there’s truly no place like home for the holidays.


Examine the foundation and lower exterior of your home for any gaps, especially around windows. Apply caulk to seal gaps around window frames, and install heavy-duty screens or hardware cloth over vents. This will ensure that uninvited guests like mice and other rodents won’t cozy up in your home during the winter months.


Check over any painted areas on the exterior of your home, and repaint any areas where you notice cracks or blisters in the surface of the paint. The worn down paint or seal in these areas of your home will not protect the wood below from damage from harsh winter weather, which could lead to more costly damage later on.


Insulate any pipes by windows or doors and any unheated areas of your home to protect them from freezing during cold weather. Use foam pipe insulation around the water pipes, and leave water dripping in faucets that might be prone to freezing. Make sure to disconnect your water hose from the outside faucet, and cover any outdoor spigots with foam covers. Of course, make sure to keep heat set no lower than 55 degrees if you are away from home during winter months.


Before you start roasting chestnuts on an open fire, make sure your fireplace and chimney is in proper working order.  An inspection to see if a cleaning is required should cost under $100, and the cleaning itself only $100-300. These small check-ups will protect your family, your home, and your possessions from chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Once your fireplace and chimney are in proper working order, stock up on firewood so your family can enjoy cozy nights around the fireplace.


Clogged gutters can lead to an ice dam on your roof, which can eventually cause water leakage inside your home. Before foul weather hits, remove all debris from your rain gutters to prevent any water back ups. While you’re at it, replace any missing screws or gutter straps to ensure that your gutters remain attached to your home, and replace or patch any damaged gutters.

You should also consider extending your downspouts to divert water away from your home by at least three feet, which can prevent ice buildup, flooding, mold, and other damage to the foundation of your home. If you don’t feel comfortable assessing these systems, hire a professional to inspect your gutters and roof. It will be much less costly to proactively prevent damage, plus you won’t want to deal with a leaky roof over the holidays.


In late winter, prune any precarious branches and limbs, especially those near your house to protect your roof and windows from damage during winter storms. After heavy snowfall, use a broom to brush snow off of branches to ease the burden of the snow and prevent brittle branches from breaking.


To prevent drafts and heat loss during the coldest months, make sure to reinforce the windows and doors around your home with weather stripping and window film. Check the existing weather stripping around doors and replace any damaged portions. If you still notice a substantial loss of heat around your front door, consider purchasing a draft stopper for use during winter months. Apply window film on any drafty windows, especially in upper level rooms. Overall, blocking these drafts around doors and windows can save you 30% in energy costs for the year.


Turn off your ceiling fan and flip the direction switch on the motor housing of your fan to run the fan’s blades in a clockwise direction during colder months when you turn on the heat. This will produce an updraft, pushing heated air down into the room. Some newer fans might have a remote control or a wall switch with a reverse button. If your fan does not have a direction switch, you may have an older fan that does not have a reversible motor. If that is the case, you can adjust the blade pitch to change the direction of airflow. In winter, tilting the blade pitch to the right will push air down, keeping warm air inside your home.


Protect your floors at all major doorways with floor mats both outside and inside the door. Set up a shoe cleaning station with a boot scraper or brush and a waterproof tray for wet winter shoes. If your family and friends can safely stow their slushy snowshoes at the door, you won’t have to worry about them tracking salt and melted snow through your home and floors.


Check the batteries in all your detectors monthly during winter months, and ensure that you keep one of each in every bedroom, on every floor of your house, and in the kitchen. Also pick up a few packs of extra batteries so you’ll have them handy when cold weather or winter storms hit.


You’ll want to be prepared for anything during winter months, so before foul weather strikes, make sure to stock up on emergency supplies like batteries, flashlights, bottled water, first aid kits, and a portable cell phone charger. Also pick up some sand or pet-safe salt for de-icing any stairs or walkways around your home, and make sure you have a shovel or snow blower to keep your driveway clear.

Don’t forget to pick up some fun winter treats to keep your home festive during the winter months. Pick up hot beverages like seasonal teas and hot cocoa, plush wool socks for yourself and your family, and soft, warm blankets to keep on the couch. These cozy delights around your home will help you pass the time on snowy days.




2017 Holiday Events and Activities Guide

Castle Noel @ 260 S. Court Street, Medina

Pay a Christmas visit to Castle Noel in Medina, a holiday museum where it’s always Dec. 25. With over 40,000 square feet, there are guided tours available for this year-round museum.

Now – Dec. 30: Kringle’s Inventionasium @ Mr. Kringle & Company
Take the family to assist Mr. Kringle® in the evaluation and creation of toys. Discover the departments of the Inventionasium®, Kringle’s® top secret toy lab. Invent with Kringle’s® elite team, explore various testing rooms and engage in hands-on activities.

Now – Dec 16: Polar Express @ Cuyahoga Valley National Railroad
A regional holiday favorite, your chance to get a golden ticket for the Polar Express is may be up, but take steps to help get a chance to ride the train next year.

Now – Dec. 23: A Christmas Story @ the Allen Theatre
Now in its 10th year, Cleveland Playhouse’s staged production of A Christmas Story excellently translates the classic movie’s cinematic charms. The record-breaking show returns to the CPH stage in all its pink-bunny-suit, glowing-leg-lamp, triple-dog-daring glory.

Now – Dec. 31: Cleveland Orchestra’s Holiday Festival @ Severance Hall
Open your ears to the magic of the Cleveland Orchestra Holiday Festival in December. Various events range from a Christmas concert to a live performance of Nightmare Before Christmas.

Now – Dec. 31: Glow @ the Cleveland Botanical Gardens
Get into the holiday Glow at the Cleveland Botanical Garden’s annual show of lights, trees and gingerbread houses. Glow transports you to a world full of seasonal cheer, where all-new wonders and returning traditions await you.

Now – Dec. 31: Holiday Lights Tour @ Lolly the Trolley
The beloved Cleveland staple Lolly the Trolley offers two Holiday Lights tours throughout December: one highlighting displays downtown and in the surrounding neighborhoods, and the other with a special stop at Tremont’s Christmas Story House & Museum.

Now – Dec. 30: Deck the Halls @ Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens
Bring the whole family to enjoy one of Ohio’s largest and most spectacular holiday traditions, Deck the Halls. The Stan Hywet estate is illuminated inside and out with over ONE MILLION lights and the historic Manor House is decorated and inspired by the theme of Postcards from the Past. DAZZLE is a fantastic outdoor light show choreographed to three new songs this year.

Nov. 24 – 26: Holiday Stroll @ Larchmere
Support small businesses on Black Friday at the annual Larchmere Holiday Stroll. Shop at local artisan shops, take a horse-drawn carriage, and dine at one of the restaurants located in the arts district.

Nov. 25: Winterfest @ Public Square
An all day holiday celebration, Winterfest has dozens of activities for the whole family to enjoy in the square and Tower City. This is a free public party and tree lighting marking the beginning of the holiday season in Cleveland.

Nov. 25 – Dec. 3: A Christmas Carol @ Ohio Theatre
Open your heart to Charles Dickens’ classic tale of one man’s ultimate redemption. One of Northeast Ohio’s favorite holiday traditions, A Christmas Carol is a perfect gift of theater for children and adults of all ages. Celebrate the season with the ones you love.

Dec. 1 – 17: A Holiday Jazz Revue @ Karamu
Karamu celebrates the Holidays with an original Jazz musical revue. Featuring jazz standards from Irving Berlin to Cole Porter, and Holiday favorites from Ella Fitzgerald to Donny Hathaway. A “holly, jolly,” takes you on a jazzy ride down memory lane with whole-hearted hilarity and a touch of sass.

Dec. 1 – 3: Holiday Artwalk @ Little Italy
Shop Italian-style at the annual Little Italy December Art Walk where various shops and vendors are selling holiday gifts. Saturday night offers live Jazz and light refreshments.

Dec. 1: Chill & Toast @ Downtown Shaker Heights
Gather for a toasty evening under the stars. Share a fireside holiday beverage with friends, see retailers’ top gifting selections, and shake it to live music or dine the District to kick off the holiday season.

Dec. 2 – 3: Holiday CircleFest @ Wade Oval
Welcome winter at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Winter Lights Lantern Festival/Holiday CircleFest. This year is the first year the festival is expanding to two whole days to bring you open-air shopping, ice skating, and carriage rides. Admission on Sunday is be free to the area’s esteemed museums.

Dec. 2: CLE SantaCon Bar Crawl @ Flats East Bank
Time to bring out your best St. Nick gear. Get an early start on holiday drinking as an enormous gathering of Santas descends on the Flats East Bank for the CLE SantaCon Bar Crawl.

Dec. 2: Harry Potter End of Term Feast @ Side Quest
This exclusive, intimate, and opulently decorated event will give you the full End of Term Feast experience. The event will include a full 6-course, white-gloved meal, catered by the amazing Clark Pope of Pope’s Kitchen. Each course is paired with craft cocktails and wine.

Dec. 6 – 17: The Santaland Diaries @ the Outcalt Theatre
The Cleveland Public Theatre steps out from its Gordon Square home to present The Santaland Diaries, a one-man stage adaptation of Sedaris’ well-loved, raunchy account of his time as a Macy’s Christmas elf. Leave the young elves at home for this one.

Dec. 6: The Hip Hop Nutcracker @ the State Theatre
A holiday mash-up for the entire family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker, a contemporary reimagination of Tchaikovsky’s timeless music, sets out on a third national tour following the success of two previous sold-out tours.

Dec. 8 – 10: The December Flea @ 3333 Lorain Ave in Ohio City
The Cleveland Flea is a small business incubator that draws thousands of Northeast Ohioans to lesser-known neighborhoods in the city to shop curated vintage, culinary all-stars and the most talented makers in the region. December’s market promises to serve great gift ideas for family and friends.

Dec. 9: Polka Brunch with Santa and Krampus @ Supper Club
Described by some as punk polka, the Chardon Polka Band plays at this day-drinking brunch on the West Bank comes complete with photo opportunities with Santa and Krampus.

Dec. 9: Santas in Tremont @ Hermes Road Racing
Get a head start on your New Year’s resolution by running with the Santas in the Tremont one-mile walk and run. Reward yourself for your hard work with Great Lakes beer, Tito’s vodka, and the highest concentration of great restaurants Cleveland has to offer.

Dec. 9: WinterTide @ Gordon Square
A unique holiday shopping experience, merriment and performances at this all-ages festival and celebration of the arts in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood.

Dec. 9: Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl @ Various Lakewood Bars
Get that Goodwill sweater, find those tacky holiday pants, and get ready to hop around Lakewood in the 2nd annual Ugly Sweater Bar Crawl that will take you around to different bars with drink specials.

Now – Jan. 1: Christmas Light Display @ Nela Park
General Electric’s Nela Park campus has been drawing visitors to East Cleveland since 1924 for its Christmas lights displays. Now, for the first time since the ’50s, GE will open the gates so visitors can see the entirety of the 92-acre campus. The displays inside the Nela Park gates will be open to the public and accessible only by non-commercial passenger cars, trucks or vans on three Fridays.

Dec. 9 – 10: Holiday Gift Bazaar @ 78th Street Studios
Shop local, support handmade! Go to 78th Street Studios in Gordon Square and find one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone on your list. Since 2004, handmade artists from across Northeast Ohio have gathered at 78th Street Studios to sell their work during the holiday show.

Dec. 13: Friends of the Museum Candlelighting @ Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage
Children of all ages and backgrounds are invited to celebrate the Jewish festival of lights! Sing songs, play the dreidel game, learn the story of Hanukkah and indulge in a sweet cookie reception.

Dec. 15 – 17: December Maker Market Flea @ 3333 Lorain Ave in Ohio City
The Cleveland Flea is a small business incubator that draws thousands of Northeast Ohioans to lesser-known neighborhoods in the city to shop curated vintage, culinary all-stars and the most talented makers in the region. December’s market promises to serve great gift ideas for family and friends.

Dec. 15 – 17: Nutcracker Suite @ Hanna Theatre
Once again the City of Cleveland will have their very own holiday favorite ballet, The Nutcracker Suite. Thru Tchaikovsky’s magnificent score, this ballet suitable for audiences of all ages will transport you on an adventure thru the imagination of a young girl to a journey around the world.

Dec. 17: It’s a Wonderful Life @ Cleveland Cinematheque
You’ve seen It’s a Wonderful Life a dozen times by now, but now you can experience it through the lens of Arizona State film professor (and Northeast Ohio native) Joe Fortunato. He provides a commentary on the behind-the-scenes story and how to “read” the film like a moviemaker.

Dec. 20: Think and Drink – Winter Solstice @ Museum of Natural History
The Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s Think & Drink series is a wonderful pairing of local beer and science. This month’s subject is the winter solstice, and the beer will come from the creative brewmasters at Platform Beer Co.

Dec. 23: Jingle Bell Rock Bar Crawl @ the Warehouse District
Holiday drinking is always more fun with a cause. Join the 3rd Annual Jingle Bell Rock Bar Crawl in raising money for the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland. Your $15 will get you a holiday-themed hat and drink specials at the participating bars.

Dec. 31: Noon Years Eve Lunch Cruise @ Nautica Queen
Ring in 2018 onboard the Noon Year’s Eve Lunch Cruise. Enjoy Champagne Toast and Party Favors with your Lunch Buffet! There will be a DJ, a champagne toast, and a countdown to 12pm.

Dec. 31: Noon Years Even @ Cleveland Metroparks Zoo
A kid-themed new years celebration, this event Kicks off the New Year with Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Celebrate Noon Year’s Eve with a dance party, roaming characters and a special countdown at the stroke of noon.

Dec. 31: Decades and Diamonds @ Vault
Celebrate the beginning of a new year iconically at Decades and Diamonds, Vault’s exclusive New Year’s Eve party. The iconic evening will include complimentary beer and wine, masterfully crafted hors d’oeuvres, and live entertainment.

Dec. 31: 100 Year New Years Even Party @ Guarinos
This year, do something historic for your New Year celebration in Cleveland. Join the family as Guarino’s Restaurant turns 100 years old at midnight. Gather together and celebrate a century of memories as Cleveland’s oldest restaurant.

Dec 31: Cloud Nothings NYE Show @ Beachland Ballroom
Cleveland’s favorite grungy sons return home for a retro ’90s-themed New Year’s Eve show in one of the city’s greatest music venues.

Pet Friendly Decorating Tips For Your Home

For many homeowners, the family pet is just as much a source of joy as an artfully arranged mantle or an immaculately landscaped lawn. With all pets, great and small, come responsibilities, some of them messy, and if unattended, these small messes can detract from your home value over time. Whether you have a house cat or a basset hound, cleaning up after your pet is integral for keeping an inviting living space, but there are also some easy ways you can make the ongoing cleanup a little easier. Here are a few easy decorating ideas, plus a few DIY projects that your pet will love, too!



If you’re preparing a major renovation and can select the flooring material of your home, choose hard surface floors. Ceramic tile is ideal for pet owners, since it’s not easily scratched by claws and can be easily cleaned after little incidents. If you can’t live without the look of hardwood, choose harder woods like oak or mahogany. In addition, cover high traffic areas, like entryways and halls, with rugs, to further extend the life of your floors. If you love the feel of carpet, consider modular carpet tiles, which allow you to replace one damaged square at a fraction of the cost of replacing an entire carpet.



When choosing furnishing, avoid easily damageable fabrics like velvet, tweed, and silk in favor of denim, crypton, or a microfiber like ultrasuede. These textiles are both easier to clean and more durable. Additionally, consider matching upholstery tones to fur color, so your pets shedding might be less noticeable.



It’s safe to say that every dog owner understands the post walk struggle of cleaning their pup’s paws after a walk on a rainy day. Why not design a pup clean-up station in the entryway to stop those muddy paw prints in their tracks? You can customize a corner cabinet with other dog walk supplies and keep it stocked with clean towels and a small bucket. Or, if you have the space, consider installing a shower just for your pet(s). See a full guide here.



If your feline friend craves some fresh air, but you don’t feel comfortable setting her lose in the great outdoors, consider creating a catio—a patio space for your cat! If you already have a patio space, you can build a small enclosure with wire fencing to contain your cat, or, if your outdoor space is limited, you can install a “cat terrace” off of any window to allow your indoor cat a taste of the great outdoors, without the risk of injury or illness. View design options at www.catterrace.com.



As the (semi)official guardian of the house, the family pup usually likes to be in a central place where he can survey his domain, but most dogs are also more comfortable when they have a designated space. If you don’t like the look of a wire crate or a dog bed in the middle of your living room, consider installing a dedicated dog space in an otherwise underutilized area, such as the nook under the stairwell or the space under the center island in the kitchen.