The holiday season is usually full of joy and family gatherings – until your home is broken into and that sense of fun turns into one of panic and paranoia. Although the most recent statistic found is for 2011, when home invasions went up 18% in the weeks between November and December, it’s safe to say that this percentage has more than likely gone up in recent years. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do in order to keep your premises secure over the holiday season. These six methods will set your mind at ease because you’ll be less likely to become one of those holiday statistics.

1) Don’t Post Your Whereabouts on Social Media

One of the best ways to let burglars know that you aren’t home is by posting your whereabouts on social media. So many people think that it’s fine to Tweet about being at the mall, update their Facebook status about spending time out of town, or posting live vacation pictures on Instagram because they think that they’re protected by their privacy settings. This isn’t the case. How many times have you heard about Facebook being hacked in recent years? Even the most private social media account isn’t as safe as you believe it is, and those “out of town” updates just alert burglars to the fact that your home is empty.

2) Set up Security Lights

Security lights are fairly inexpensive and can be set up yourself, even if you have little electrical knowledge. You just need to follow the instructions. These lights are even easier to set up when you purchase solar powered ones, as they just need to be mounted to the sides of your house and garage – no messing with wires required. The best security lights are the motion sensor variety since they’ll activate when someone gets within range. Many potential burglars are scared off by these lights, and they’ll be less likely to try to get into your home when the lights are on them.

3) Lock Your Garage Doors

This is something that’s a bit multi-faceted. You need to lock all of your garage doors – including the door that leads from your garage to the inside of your home. Many people tend to leave this unlocked, assuming that no one can get into their garage. The downside is that general garage doors are easy to break into, and few people have security set up around the man door that leads from the garage to the outdoors. Plus, if you’re prone to leaving your car in the driveway with a garage door opener in it, it’s entirely possible that someone may break into your car to get that opener – and now they have access to your home as well.

4) Don’t Brag About Your Purchases on Social Media

We’ve already discussed one aspect of social media security, but there’s another that you need to be aware of – bragging about your purchases. You’re probably tempted to take a picture of your Christmas shopping haul and post it on social media so that your friends and followers can see what you’ve bought. However, this just provides more fodder for burglars, who now know exactly what’s in your home. They’ll see that you just spent $500 on a tablet or another electronic device and will be even more tempted to break in and steal it. As we stated above, even the most secure social media settings aren’t as safe as you think that they are, so you never know who’s peeking at your updates. Don’t give people an excuse to break into your home.

5) Install a Home Automation or Security System

Although you can get home automation systems that serve as home security systems, you can also purchase the two separately, meaning that you have your choice of one or the other. It all comes down to what you think that you’ll need. Home automation systems can allow you to turn the lights on when you’re not home, which will deter burglars. They also come with cameras, so if anything does happen, you’ll have a recording of it. Security systems, on the other hand, sometimes come with audible alarms that will definitely scare off any intruders. Depending on your needs, you might want to consider installing both.

6) Don’t Leave Your Newspaper or Mail Unattended

Finally, you should always pick up your newspapers in the morning and make sure to bring in your mail every day. This is a clear way of letting the world know that you’re home – and not away on vacation. One of the first things that home intruders look for is to see if someone is home. Many don’t want to risk breaking into an occupied house. As long as your home looks lived in, the odds are in your favor.