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The holiday season is upon us—the time for decking the halls, stringing the lights, trimming the tree and otherwise making our homes look their most festive. It’s also the season for family and friends, Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas parties and so on—and as you know, a house full of people can be murder on your wood floors. To help prevent mishaps and help you maintain peace on earth (or at least peace of mind)—here are a few helpful holiday tips for keeping your wood floors safe.

Shoes at the Door

Tracked-in dirt and mud aren’t just a pain to clean—when they come in on the soles of your guests’ shoes, they can leave scratch marks on the floors. Set aside a rug near the entrance to your home and graciously ask your guests to leave their shoes there. (To compensate, you might need to turn up the thermostat a little on cold days.) If it’s not feasible to have guests remove their shoes, at least put a high-quality mat at the door to capture unwanted dirt and sand.

Rugs for High-Traffic Areas

Another way to preserve your floors is to lay rugs along the main traffic paths of your home, especially during the holidays. These not only add extra protection, but they also send a subtle message to visitors to stay on the path so the uncovered parts of your floor receive less traffic.

Rugs Under the Eating Areas, Too

Spilled food and drink can also do damage to your floors, especially if they lay undetected. Reduce the risk by placing rugs under your dining room table and any other places where guests are likely to consume food and drink. Make sure the rug is large enough to cover the space around the table where people sit, not just the table area itself. (The rug will also protect your floors from marks made by sliding chair legs—and if you don’t happen to have a rug large enough for the chairs, make sure your chair legs have felt padding on the feet to protect against scratches.)

Tree Blanket Under the Live Tree

Yes, tree sap comes from trees, but that doesn’t mean you want the nightmare of trying to get it off your wood floors. If you’re one of those people who loves the piney smell of a live Christmas tree, make sure you have a blanket large enough to cover the space under the widest parts of your tree. It will not only catch any stray drops of tree sap, but also make the pine needles easier to clean up when the holidays are over.

Your holidays don’t have to be followed by regret. Be proactive in protecting your wood floors, and you’ll be free to enjoy the season with family and friends without worry.