Bob Vila's 10 "Must Do" Projects for December

December is a busy month, packed with festivity preparation and the typical winter maintenance. Get it all done and still have time to lounge inside by the fire by flipping through my list of "must do" projects.

  1. Buy an Appliance

    Best Time to Buy Appliances

    With next year's models now available, stores will want to purge their older stock. That means you can shop smart by and get a deal on an older—but perfectly good—model. Plus, you may find even steeper discounts on off-season appliances like air conditioners or gas grills.

  2. DIY Your Own Decorations

    DIY Christmas Decorations

    Here's a family- and budget-friendly DIY project! Gather around the table to make your own holiday decorations. It's a wonderful way to spend time together—plus you can save money by making your own from repurposed materials, backyard branches, or outdated decorations in need of new life.

  3. Snow Safety

    Shoveling Snow

    As snow falls across the country, make sure you're up to date on the safest way to shovel snow. You can eliminate muscle strain and injury by choosing a good shovel, stretching before you work, and pushing the snow across your sidewalks and driveways—not lifting it. It's also a good idea to take breaks every 15 minutes so you don't get overworked.

    Related:  10 Snow Shovels to Clear the Path (and Save Your Back)

  4. Holiday Lights Safety

    How to Hang Christmas Lights

    If your house isn't twinkling with bright holiday lights just yet, make sure to install them safely when you do. Work with a partner if possible, or use an extension pole to reach to the roof and keep your feet planted on the ground. And remember to plug outdoor lights into circuits protected by ground-fault-interrupters (GFCIs) for electrical safety.

    Related:  8 Tips for Hanging Holiday Lights

  5. Safe Holiday Vacation

    Holiday Safety Tips

    There's a slight uptick in home burglaries around the holidays, so take precautions if you plan to travel. Call the post office to hold your mail, and ask a neighbor or friend to park in your driveway or even shovel your walk while you're away. Or install one of many high-tech security gadgets now on the market to monitor your home while you're out of town.

  6. Space Heaters

    Space Heaters

    Warm up a garage workshop or basement rec room with a space heater or two. It's probably cheaper than directing forced air to seldom-used spaces, plus it makes work and leisure more enjoyable during winter.

    Related:  10 Space Heaters We Love

  7. Change Furnace Filter

    How Often to Change Furnace Filter

    This monthly chore takes mere minutes, but changing the furnace filter is one of the most important things you can do for your own comfort and the life of your furnace. Set a reminder on your calendar or phone—or change them when the electricity bill arrives each month.

  8. Deodorize Your Home

    Deodorize Your Home

    Many families have guests on the way this month, so it's important to keep your home smelling fresh. Replace baking soda in the fridge or freezer, decorate with fragrant evergreen branches, or invest in an air purifier with a HEPA filter to remove impurities—like mold and dust—from the air.

  9. Wood Furniture Care

    Winter Wood Furniture Care

    Chances are your home interior is much drier in winter than in warm summer months—and that takes its toll on wood furniture, which can dry and crack. Oil cleaners can protect wood furniture by making it more slippery, but won't hydrate below the finish. Instead, care for your wood furniture by running a humidifier.

  10. Choose a Tree

    How to Choose a Christmas Tree

    Shopping for a tree this month? Choose wisely. To make sure your tree is fresh, pull at the branches a little before you buy. If the needles fall easily, try a different tree more likely to last longer indoors.

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