menorah

"Hanukkah Lights [348/366]” by timsackton is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

You may still be eating Thanksgiving leftovers and cleaning up from the holiday when the first night of Chanukah arrives. With the holidays so close, the tough job of preparing your home for eight nights of house guests might be stressing you out. Are you reaching for the Manischewitz wine before Shabbat?

No sweat, you can do this.

Get prepared

Fix yourself a cup of tea and draft a list that includes everything you need to do so your home makes a good impression on your house guests and makes them feel comfortable during their stay. Then enlist the help of your family and make appointments with any service professionals you’ll need to help you finish the chores on time. Be sure to include these tasks on your list.

Tackle the small repairs you’ve been putting off

You might be used to the drip drip drip of a slow-leaking faucet that’s been

on the fritz for months, but the sound can drive visitors crazy, especially if they can hear it while they’re trying to sleep. Do a sweep of the house. Fix leaky faucets, clogged drains, cracked windows, creaky door hinges and loose doorknobs. Little problems can make a poor impression.

Get the furnace inspected

If the temperatures eventually dip, you’ll have the heat on while your company is there, at least overnight. You’ll rest easier knowing a heating and air conditioning technician has given your system a once-over and cleared it — or repaired it — so it won’t leave your guests in the cold.

Sweep the chimney

It’s a messy, time-consuming job, so you might want to hire a professional chimney sweep. Choose one who can do both cleaning and an inspection. An inspector will look for cracks in the masonry, damaged dampers, worn-out chimney caps and other problems, in addition to removing what you can’t see: the creosote, soot, ashes, dust, leaves and even birds that are stuck in the flue and chimney.

Gussie up the guest room

If it’s been doubling as a sewing room, a storage space or a home office since the last time bubbe came to visit, get in there and clean it out. Move your personal items to another room so you won’t have to bother your guests to retrieve them during their stay. Make room in the closet for your guests to hang clothes. Launder the bedspread and place some Chanukah gelt on each pillow.

Create “guest space” in the guest bathroom

Make your guests feel especially welcome by designating a bathroom for them that the rest of the family won’t use during their stay. This will allow them to unpack toiletries and hang wet towels instead of toting them back and forth from the bathroom to the bedroom. Add a hook to the inside of the bathroom door for hanging towels and robes and clear a shelf — or add one — near the sink where guests can place razors, makeup and brushes.

Cook the latkes and sufganiyot in advance

These delicacies take time to prepare. Do you want to spend all your time in the kitchen with your shvigger telling you that you are doing it wrong? Prepare the latkes in advance and freeze them. When ready to serve, pop them in the oven. They will be extra crispy.

Deep clean the house (after cooking the latkes)

Start in the guest room and work your way through common areas like the kitchen, dining room and TV room. Do more than moving the dust around. Look for areas that need cleaning. Make your toilets sparkle, scrub your counter tops, scour the grout from floor and backsplash tiles and clear bathroom drains. Haul out your step ladder and search for dust in all the places you usually ignore such as on top of ceiling fan blades, plate racks, kitchen cabinets and hanging picture frames. Vacuum the dust from exhaust fans. Sweep under the guest room bed.

Pull out and organize Chanukah decorations and games before your guests arrive

That way you won’t spend fun family time crawling through the attic searching for them. Create new decorations with guests and start a holiday tradition that your company will look forward to when they visit year after year. Most stores offer little in terms of Chanukah decorations. Shop online now to ensure your decorations (and gifts) arrive on time. ModernTribe.com offers some festive decorations and activities.

Install or check and replace the batteries in fire and carbon monoxide detectors

Make it a habit to change the batteries the night before Chanukah begins or cooking the oil-rich latkes and jelly donuts. Test each smoke detector after changing the battery. Make sure the alarm can be heard from all parts of the house.

If using an electric menorah, be sure the plug and cord are in good condition. For a non-electric menorah, place it out of the reach of small children and curious pets. The flames from lighted candles and oils can burn tots and pets and create a fire hazard threatening the safety of other members of the household. If you place a lighted menorah near a window, pull back draperies and remove other flammable objects. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby. Never leave a candle-lit menorah unattended or let children light the candles unsupervised.

If you heat your home with a gas furnace or use other gas appliances at home, install carbon monoxide detectors near every bedroom — including the guest room. If you already have them, replace the batteries — you need fresh ones twice a year. Buy extra batteries when you buy those needed for the gifts. JN

Rosie Romero, Jr. is co-owner of Arizona’s home improvement radio program ‘Rosie on the House.’