Home Maintenance Guide & Calendar


American Home Shield is here to help you protect your budget, which starts with protecting your home. Their comprehensive Home Maintenance Guide and Calendar allow you to keep track of service dates and details, and stay on top of seasonal maintenance tips and tasks.

Download your free Home Maintenance Guide and Calendar by clicking the images below to help improve the condition and longevity of the systems and appliances in your home. The Home Maintenance Guide also offers quick fixes for common systems and appliance issues so you can decide if it’s a DIY project or time to call a qualified repair professional.

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If there’s one thing homeowners know to expect, it’s the unexpected. American Home Shield helps protect your budget against covered household breakdowns, including components of your air conditioner, heating unit, electrical and plumbing systems, as well as appliances like your oven, refrigerator, and washing machine. You know — the things you count on every single day.

They offer three plans to choose from so you can select the best one for your budget and household, and for more home maintenance and DIY tips, visit their YouTube channel.

8 Tips for Outdoor Holiday Decorating


You don’t want to be the only house on the block that doesn’t look great this holiday season. Use these 8 tips to help you with your outdoor holiday decorating.

The holiday season is upon us and the weather is getting colder. Lawn and garden tools have given way to Christmas ornaments, gift wrap and artificial evergreens in most department stores. It’s time to decorate your home for the holidays, indoors and out – and if you’re the kind of person who loves getting in the holiday spirit, why wait? Use these eight tips to show off your festive spirit.

1. CHOOSE A FOCAL POINT

Decorating your home’s exterior, yard, flowerbeds and other outdoor space around a central focal point can help you tie everything together and build a theme for your holiday décor. Many homeowners choose their front porch or even their front door as a focal point, drawing attention to it with a nice wreath, some lights strung around the railing and perhaps an artificial outdoor tree or two.

However, that’s not your only choice. Your focal point could be a large evergreen tree in your front yard, a large statue of Santa in his sled or a nativity scene. Think about choosing a theme for your holiday decorations so everything flows together and you don’t end up buying more decorations than you need.

2. KEEP IT SIMPLE

You don’t want to go all Clark Griswold with your Christmas lights. Start small, especially if you’ve never decorated the exterior of a home for the holidays before. Spend some time browsing the web for Christmas decorating ideas, and start with a manageable display. For example, just string some lights around the porch instead of lighting up the whole house. You can add to your display later or expand it next year.

3. BUY THE RIGHT LIGHTS FOR YOUR NEEDS

If you’ve never purchased Christmas lights for your home before, or if it’s been a while, you may be surprised at the options available to you. There are net lights for bushes, rope lights for illuminating windows, blinking lights, multicolored lights, icicle lights and various kinds of LED lights. Figure out what kind of lights are best for the display you have in mind, as well as which lights will be the cheapest to run.

4. SHOP SECONDHAND

Looking to decorate for less this Christmas season? Who can blame you – Christmas is already expensive enough, and surely there’s a more environmentally sustainable way to get in the holiday spirit. Fortunately, you can score piles of gently used, secondhand Christmas decorations at most thrift stores. Buy used and vintage wreaths, statues, nativity scenes and other items of holiday décor for a fraction of the retail price.

5. PLAY IT SAFE

When it comes to outdoor holiday decorating, safety is paramount. Use lights labeled with the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) seal of approval and make sure they’re rated for outdoor use. Not sure about getting up on the ladder to string lights along the gutters and around windows? Hire someone to do it, or skip it altogether.

6. DITCH THE STAPLE GUN

When it’s time to hang Christmas lights, leave the staple gun in your toolbox – that’s how your grandpa hung his lights. Electrical tape is a safe, quick and easy alternative that won’t damage your siding, shingles or fingers. It’s also great for protecting electrical connections from the elements. Use Christmas light clips to safely and easily attach lights to shingles and gutters.

7. START AT THE BOTTOM

When decorating something tall for Christmas, such as a large tree, start at the bottom and work your way up. Use a dowel rod staked into the soil to hold an extension cord for powering your lights, and work with the lights illuminated so you can get a better sense of how the finished product will look. Get help stringing the lights around the trunk of a deciduous tree, or zigzagging them through the branches of an evergreen, adding new strings as needed.

8. DECORATE SMART

Save yourself some effort and expense and only decorate parts of the yard that people will see. Have a big tree that passersby will only see one side of? Just decorate that side of the tree. You may want to skip decorating parts of the yard that aren’t visible to the public; however, if you have a back patio or deck that you plan to use throughout the Christmas season, feel free to decorate it with weather-resistant garlands, artificial trees, wreaths, lights or table arrangements.

Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore. With a little creativity and these helpful tips, you’ll soon have an outdoor display that will inspire neighborhood passersby to stop and admire your work.

12 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Thanksgiving


For many households, Thanksgiving is one of the biggest holidays of the year, both in terms of the number of guests and the amount of prep work needed. Getting your home ready to host Thanksgiving dinner requires more than tidying up, dusting, vacuuming and cleaning the bathrooms.

You’ll need to consider what Thanksgiving recipes you need to prepare, make time to shop for ingredients, plan ahead to thaw and roast your turkey and coordinate who’s bringing what side dishes and fixings. You’ll probably have far more dinner guests than you would for your average dinner party, so you’ll need to plan space for everyone to eat. And, if friends or family members are coming in from out of town, you may need to get the spare bedroom and other areas ready for overnight guests.

Use these 12 tips to make your Thanksgiving holiday a success.

1. PLAN YOUR MENU

Sure, you’ll most likely be serving many of the same holiday staples that everyone enjoys on Thanksgiving – turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, stuffing and green bean casserole. But many families like to mix things up with dishes from their specific cultural backgrounds, vegetarian dishes, dishes for family members with allergies and food sensitivities, trendy dishes and so forth. Plan your Thanksgiving dinner menu several weeks in advance so you have an idea of what you’ll be preparing well before the holiday arrives.

2. WRITE YOUR GUEST LIST

You may be hosting the usual suspects, just like every year, or you may even decide to extend an invitation to friends, neighbors or others who don’t have anywhere to go for the holiday. Knowing in advance who will be present can help you plan the menu and seating arrangements.

3. CLEAN OUT YOUR FREEZER

You may need some extra freezer space for dishes that can be made ahead of time and frozen for the big day. Go ahead and toss out that old tub of gravy from last year – you’ll soon have a new one to replace it with.

4. SHOP AHEAD

Assuming you’ve planned your menu well in advance, you can save money on the holiday meal by watching for sales on non-perishable ingredients in the weeks before Thanksgiving. You’ll also be able to stock up on specialty ingredients before they run out.

5. PREPARE MAKE-AHEAD DISHES THAT CAN BE FROZEN FOR THE BIG DAY

Shopping ahead and cleaning out your freezer can help take some of the stress out of Thanksgiving Day by giving you the chance to make some of the dishes in advance. Prepared dishes can be popped into your newly cleaned freezer for as long as two months, ready to be pulled out and cooked on Thanksgiving Day.

6. CREATE A COOKING SCHEDULE

One of the most difficult aspects of cooking any meal is getting everything on the table at the same time. Review your Thanksgiving recipes and create a cooking schedule that breaks down the meal’s culinary challenges day by day and hour by hour. Some dishes, like pies, cakes, and sauces, can be cooked a day or two before Thanksgiving. You’ll need to start prepping other dishes, like the turkey, several days in advance; a large bird needs to be thawed in the refrigerator for about 24 hours per four to five pounds of meat.

7. FIGURE OUT WHO’S BRINGING WHAT

Delegating some of the cooking to your guests can make hosting Thanksgiving more manageable. Get together with guests to decide who’s bringing what side dishes, desserts and fixings so you can cross those off your list.

8. TASTE-TEST NEW DISHES

Are you trying something new this year? Better take the recipe on a test drive before Thanksgiving. Trying out the recipe will let you know whether it’s really any good and will give you valuable insight into how difficult and time-consuming it is to make. You may decide to strike it from the menu after making it once.

9. PLAN THE SEATING ARRANGEMENT

If you’re having a fair number of guests this Thanksgiving, seating everyone can be a challenge. Tackle the seating arrangement sooner, rather than later, so everyone has a place to sit.

10. DEEP CLEAN YOUR HOME

It’s a good idea to deep clean your whole home a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, so you can stick to a quick once-over the day before the holiday. If you don’t have time to deep clean your entire house, you should at least deep clean your bathrooms and kitchen.

11. PREPARE FOR OVERNIGHT GUESTS

Are family members or friends coming in from out of town? You’ll need to get guest bedrooms dusted and cleaned up, with fresh bedding on the beds and fresh towels in the bathrooms. Depending on how many guests are staying over, you may need to plan to put some people on couches or air mattresses.

12. GIVE YOUR HOME A LAST ONCE-OVER

The day before Thanksgiving, take the time to give your home a last cleaning before everyone gets there. Dust, sweep or vacuum common areas, tidy up, prepare your kitchen and clean the bathrooms.

Getting your home ready for Thanksgiving is no small chore. But if you follow this step-by-step list, you’ll host a Thanksgiving to remember.