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Renovating During the Holidays: Tips on How to Survive

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Those little jingle jangles start introducing every commercial on TV.  Twinkling lights gradually replace the mums and pumpkins on your neighbors’ front stoops.  Latte flavors morph from pumpkin to peppermint.  It can only mean one thing… it’s time to prep for the holidays! 

But… crap.  You’re renovating.

Preparing for the holidays can be a massive undertaking even when your house is not under construction.  Family swinging through town, decorations to hang, gifts to purchase, cards to send… it’s enough to make a person need… a holiday!  HA! 

Toss in a home renovation and you’ve got yourself quite the challenge ahead of you. 

Fear not, my fearless renovating homeowner.  You can still do this!  We’ve been there, and we’ve lived through it.  Here’s our best advice to you. 


Obvious call here, but if you can avoid renovating during the holidays, that might be a good idea.

We did not do that.

Moving on.  😉

Heap of Grace

If you, like we, casually disregard the calendar and renovate your house during the holidays anyway, this is the time to give yourself a little bit of grace. 

Your décor may not look like the front page of a magazine this year.  That’s okay!  It’s only one year. 

You might not have time to hang Aunt Petunia’s vintage Christmas wreath or crush the annual Turkey troy this time around… it’s okay. 

Give yourself the grace and the space to pull an Elsa and let it go, just this once. 

Remember the Goal

If you’ve taken on a home renovation, I’m guessing it was for a really, really good reason. 

When you’re preparing your home for the holidays amid a literal disaster zone, and things get stressful…. It’s a really good time to remember your “why.” 

Why did you start this project?  What is your end goal?  Remind yourself of the reason you started.  It will keep things in perspective. 

Go Small

During the holidays of 2019, we were smack dab in the middle of our massive first floor renovation. We were still living in our hodge-podge cafe-gymna-torium set up, complete with a temporary kitchen and small basement bathroom.  We had kept our living room in one piece, but to travel to it, we had to pass through our kitchen renovation project

Basically… it was a mess. 

How did we tackle the holidays? 

We went small. 

Less decorations.  One string of Christmas lights on the front stairs, our simple little 4 foot Christmas tree, and some small presents.  We just did the basics, enough to celebrate humbly, and got by. 

It was only one year – and now that we have completed the renovation, we have a new home to establish new traditions in.  

Christmas tree small copy
our humble little Christmas tree

Don’t Host

This may be a luxury that you can’t avoid… but if at all possible, don’t volunteer to host someone. 

Unless, of course, that someone comes over with a set of drills and work clothes, in which case, invite them in STAT and feed them sugar cookies at coffee break

I think you get my picture here, though… if there is a family get-together or folks traveling in from out of town, this is not your year to be a hero. 

Find a way to graciously rain-check hosting duties until next holiday season.  Your house is uprooted enough anyway—no  need to create more chaos with extra bodies, luggage, and holiday hubbub. 

Treat Yourself

Is there an event happening at work?  A holiday wedding?  Drive-through Christmas lights display at the zoo?  Step right up and treat yourself! 

As we have said in our ultimate guide to surviving your home renovation, a day off from your home renovation project can make all the difference in your physical and mental well being!  During our first floor reno, we went to a big party basically once a month, like weddings and a work holiday party.

We felt so much better having a chance to get dressed up and celebrate something other than a first coat of primer!

attending a holiday wedding during a renovation
Got ourselves all dolled up for a coworker’s wedding!

Simplify the Cards

Do you usually hire a photographer, order the custom cards, add stickers and sparkles and hoopla and send 150 Christmas greetings in the mail? 

I hereby grant you permission to skip it this year.  If you are renovating your home during the holidays, people will understand if you don’t get around to it, just this once. 

Things you can do instead:

  • Why not send an email?
  • Or, if you share my unparalleled enthusiasm for the dying art of snail mail… maybe print out an old-school family newsletter.
  • For extra renovation fun, snap a family pic in your construction zone for this year’s greeting!

Order Online

Holiday shopping?  Call me tech savvy, but you can order online.

If you are renovating your house during the holidays, don’t even think about spending your valuable time shopping in person.  Let Jeff Bezos wait in line for you!  You have enough to manage with appliance deliveries, paint colors, managing contractors…

Or, if you like supporting local business, try calling ahead of time with your order, so all you have to do is pickup.

Oh, and if you’re shopping for a new homeowner, check out our gift guide here

Keep an Eye on Your Budget

Renovating your home during the holidays comes with the extra challenge of money management. 

Now, listen, your plan is your business – I won’t tell you not to spend – but I will tell you to trust that your plan was well crafted, and stick to it for yourself and your family. 

Hopefully you’ve carefully budgeted for both the holidays and for your renovation.  It will behoove you to spend an extra 20 minutes, just in case, to revisit your plan regarding holiday spending. 

Have Fun

People.  If your renovation project is far enough along that the kiddies can take a peek inside…

Just THINK of all the places that Elf on a Shelf / Mensch on a Bench / Mary on the Mantle / Grouch on a Couch can hide! 

Renovating your home during the holidays can be challenging and stressful, but it can also be an opportunity to create new memories.  Make the most of it while you have the chance. 

Indulge in the Sweets

Please acknowledge: if you’re renovating your house during the holidays, you are burning calories wholesale

Demo day?  Go nuts on the calorie intake. 

Framing, sheetrock, painting?  Just think of how much activity you are adding to your normal lifestyle! 

This is the time to enjoy holiday sweets

Yes, I know, “everything in moderation,” but I say, if your kitchen is in a dumpster and your living room currently borders the cellar, you have the reason to salivate over, swim in, and make snow angels into a vat of peppermints, candy canes, and homemade apple pie. 

Santa hat night pic
at my dad’s bar, mid-renovation, for their famous Santa hat night, indulging in all the pub grub!

Be Grateful…

…in all circumstances.  It might not be the Hallmark film finish, but your home is what you make it, no matter the renovation status. 

Choosing gratitude will help get you through the toughest days of your live-in renovation, whether it’s the holiday season or just a random Tuesday. 


I hope this post has helped you plan a little bit better for the holidays during your home renovation.  I commend you and say, GO YOU!  You can do this! 

Make the most of your home, just the way it is.  Find ways to enjoy the holidays amid your home reno! 

And… happy holidays! 

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