Imagine you’re preparing to host your annual holiday party, and you’re past the point of no return. The veggies and meats have been bought. Guests are already braving busy airports and crowded highways to get to your home -- and then your oven won’t turn on. Your home-cooked meal has quickly turned into a microwave dinner.

That’s just one of many hosting nightmares that can stop your party in its tracks! Thankfully, some of the worst mishaps easily can be avoided. Here are five of the most widespread problems and some tips on how to avoid them.  Keep your holiday party on track!

Problem: The Oven Doesn’t Heat!

For any holiday part, the oven is the most important appliance in your house.  If it fails, the centerpiece of your meal could go from roasted turkey, to pizza from your local Dominos!

How to avoid:

  • There are any number of reasons a stove can break, but one common cause of disaster is easy to prevent:  Don’t self-clean your oven until AFTER the holidays. You risk blowing a fuse or a thermostat, and tracking down an oven technician around the holidays is, well: impossible.  Plus who wants one more thing to do before the holidays!  Take it easy, and clean it in... January!

Problem: The Kitchen Sink Clogs!

The day after Thanksgiving is the busiest of the year for plumbers. The prime cause of this clog-a-thon is the mistreatment of drains when cooking holiday feasts.   Be smart this Thanksgiving and avoid clog-a-thons for the rest of the holidays.

How to avoid:

  • Fats and cooking oils can solidify in your pipes, so never dispose of them in your kitchen sink.
  • If you have a garbage disposal, make sure it’s running before anything goes in it, and never feed it any stringy, fibrous, or starchy foods like poultry skins or potato peels.
  • To fix, don’t rely on chemical drain-clearing products that can harm your pipes. Use a snake instead, available for $15 at your local hardware store. Best to keep one on hand.

Problem: The Heat Goes Out!

As the party’s host, you’re supposed to hang guests’ coats -- not apologize to them for having to keep them on. Cold guests make for a short-lived party. 

How to avoid:

  • The key to avoiding freezing your party to a standstill is regular maintenance of your HVAC. Every 90 days, a new one-inch pleated furnace filter should be installed. If you haven’t done it in a while, now’s a good time to replace it.
  • Also inspect insulation on refrigerant lines that are leading into your house. Replace them if they're missing or damaged.

Problem: The Toilet Stops Up!

Toilets have a way of clogging up at the worst times, like during parties and when you have overnight guests. This is especially true if you have a low-flow toilet from the early 1990's like I did.  Ugh. 

How to avoid:

  • Don’t flush anything other than sewage and toilet paper down the toilet.  (Nothing wrong with putting up a polite note to remind your guests to do the same!)

Problem: The Fridge Doesn’t Cool!

Without a properly functioning refrigerator, your meat gets contaminated, your dairy-based treats go sour, and you may not be able to save your yummy leftovers. To avoid discovering a warm fridge after it’s too late, take these simple precautions.

How to avoid:

  • Get a thermometer for your refrigerator to make sure each shelf stays below 40 degrees and you can be aware of any temperature changes.
  • Also make sure the condenser coils located on the back of the unit or beneath it are free to breathe. Coils blocked from circulating air by cereal boxes atop the fridge, or dirtied by dust or pet hair can prevent a fridge from keeping cool.

Still Got a Holiday Disaster on Your Hands?  Here are links to a few trusted service providers, (because the furnace never fails in August!):

Furnace Repair:  http://mountainsheetmetal.com/  Rooter Service:  https://www.mrrooter.com/#~Q3x1r7  Plumbing:  https://www.campbellsplumbing.com/menupage.php?menu=1  Carpet Cleaners:  https://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=carpet_cleaning&find_loc=Bozeman%2C+MT