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At Alure Home Improvements, we welcome the holidays because we like to spend this time of year with our families and loved ones enjoying the good times and reliving the best memories of years gone by. We take special pleasure when our surroundings are just the way we like them.

We all know this is the time to let the holiday spirit take over a home joyously and wonderfully. You can spread good cheer without going broke. There’s a lot of innovative ways to decorate your home that are inexpensive but no less imaginative. Maybe you already have your home decked out the way you like, and all you want to do is sip a nice mug of nutmeg and hear the jingle of sleigh bells to make your December night come true for those on your gift list. We’d like to offer you some food for thought to make this holiday really special because ‘tis the season to bring out the best.

For those without a fireplace, you can create a faux mantel in several ways. A book shelf will suffice if it’s properly decorated—especially with a friendly little elf. If you’re more enterprising, you could make a simple towel rack the place to hang Christmas stockings. You can mount it on the living room wall or somewhere else that’s prominent. For a unique, natural look, get a sturdy dry tree branch about a yard long, a can of white craft paint and another of water-based sealer. Peel off the bark, then brush on a couple of coats of paint, making sure each coat is dry before you add the next one. Finally, wait 24 hours, and then brush on the sealer so the paint will set firmly and won’t crack or chip. You can use 3M Command Hooks on the living room wall to mount it or suspend it from the ceiling with colorful ribbons. It’s perfect for stocking stuffers. To simply create a lovely display, just attach a nice colorful string or ribbon firmly on the wall between two thumbtacks to hold all your holiday cards.

Another colorful, creative idea is to take green felt or even artificial turf and cut out the letters to spell “Joy” or “Noel” so you can display a special greeting on your front door. Why not get a foam wreath from the supermarket and wrap sequin ribbon around it for something sparkly to hang on your front door or your wall? To help your guests get off on the right foot, paint triangle-shaped evergreen trees on your doormat, using durable exterior paint. Oil-based paint is better than water-based or latex paint if the surface has already been painted because it won’t peel, but it is harder to clean up and takes longer to dry.

If your holiday lights go out, there’s a simple check list to consult first that could offer the remedy. If the power outage is larger than just a string of lights, you might want to check the circuit breakers in your electrical panel to see if a breaker was tripped or a fuse blew. Then check your connections carefully. If the string of lights suddenly went dark, it could be a fuse in the light set itself. Within the plug-in are a couple of fuses usually hidden behind a small cover. Unplug all the lights on the tree, slide the cover to expose the fuses, and check them out one by one. If they’re bad, they should be replaced. Sometimes the light bulb itself is the culprit. Maybe the bulb was loose or it just went dark because it was old and worn-out. Trouble-shoot the problem and replace the burned-out bulb. Be sure to keep your tree well watered to prevent a fire hazard. If you enjoy inflatable decorations on your lawn, make sure the electrical connections are secure, the outdoor socket stays dry, and your all-weather extension cord is in good shape, without any holes or cuts or exposed wires. Beware of rodents that might nibble on the line.

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Here are some tips for holiday entertaining and hosting. If you have little kids, don’t set your table with your finest linen table cloth so you won’t have to worry about those unavoidable, inevitable spills ruining something priceless. And if the kids are curious toddlers, don’t leave your irreplaceable family heirloom decorations within reach. You’ll want to treasure them for years to come.

If you’re expecting overnight guests, make sure the guest bed is comfortable and clean, the sheets are fresh, the blankets and quilts are dust-free, and the pillows smell nice. Always make sure you have extra sets of bed and bath towels and linens on hand and ready to go. Set aside some space in the guest room for a luggage rack, a small table, a bench, or even a chair to hold a suitcase, so it’s not resting on the floor.

Remember, the more space you provide, the more welcoming the spirit. So clear the dresser and shelves of unnecessary doodads, knickknacks and tchotchkes. Keep it simple so your guests have room to relax. If the guest room allows, definitely furnish it with an upholstered armchair or a comfortable chair and a side table with a lamp nearby. A good reading light is a thoughtful addition, especially if you can install it over the guest bed. If your guestroom is normally deployed as your home office, then make sure there’s space in the closet for your guests to hang their clothes—and include half a dozen hangers. Add a hook on the wall or behind the closet door that could hold a bathrobe, an overcoat or even a purse and a handbag. An empty bureau drawer or two will go a long way to making your guests feel right at home.

Of course, if you want Santa to help make your remodeling dreams come true—whether it’s a new guest room or a redesigned kitchen—then maybe you should put Alure Home Improvements on your wish list. Of course, we won’t slide down your chimney, but we are a lot closer than the North Pole.

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