Celebrate the Holidays in Alexandria
- Alexandria Domestic Violence Program Seeks Donations for Children's Holiday Party
Every year, Alexandria's Domestic Violence Program organizes a holiday party for mothers and children who have been recently helped at the women's shelter. At the party, more than 100 families each receive a bag of gifts for their children, which they can take home, wrap and place under their tree. Toy donations for children and gift cards for mothers are needed. To make a donation, please bring unwrapped toys and gift cards to 421 King Street, Suite 400, no later than 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 18. For more information, call 703.746.4911.
- Donors Needed for the Holiday Sharing Program
Be part of the holiday spirit and reach out to eligible low income families, foster children, and elderly or disabled citizens through Alexandria's Holiday Sharing Program. You will get "wish lists" for children or senior citizens, which will include necessary clothing (jeans, warm jacket), a toy or recreational item, a book and perhaps one family request (used computer, towels, pots and pans). Gift cards from stores such as Old Navy, Target, and Best Buy are also needed for teens in foster care. For more information, visit alexandriava.gov/HolidaySharing or call 703.746.5663.
Holiday Gifts & Decorations
- New Holiday Ornament Commemorates Civil War
This year's Christmas ornament depicts the roundhouse of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad, which originally stood just south of the 1300 block of Duke Street in Alexandria. Chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1848, the O & A was one of Virginia's earliest rail lines, connecting the busy port of Alexandria with central Virginia farms, forests, and the city of Richmond. During the Civil War, the O & A was heavily fought over, since it led from Union-occupied Alexandria straight to the Confederate capital. The roundhouse itself was built in 1851, and included a turntable to move locomotives around inside it for cleaning and repairs. The ornament makes a memorable present for family and friends and comes in an embossed gift box.
- Alexandria Police Youth Camp Host Christmas Tree Sale
If you're looking to purchase a Christmas Tree, check out the Alexandria Police Youth Camp (APYC) Christmas tree sale! The tree sale is located at Union Station, 101 Callahan Drive. Tree sale hours are Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1 a.m. to 8 p.m. This year, the APYC will be selling Fraiser Firs and Douglas Firs ranging in size from 5'0" to more than 10'0". Prices range from $45 to $130. There will also be a limited number of 12-inch wreaths available for $20 each. All the money that is raised will be used to help send Alexandria kids to police camp!
- Winter Recreation Program Guide give the gift of Fitness and Fun!
- VisitAlexandriaVA.com for holiday shopping and more!
Holiday Safety: Protecting You & Your Property
The holidays are a time when thieves are frequently on the prowl. Here are some safety tips to help keep your home, your car, your possessions and your family safe during the holiday season.
Before you leave home:
- Women should carry their purses close to their body at all times. Men should have their wallet in a front pocket.
- Take only one or two credit cards and avoid carrying large amounts of cash to minimize your loss if robbed.
- Use caution when posting status updates on social media websites that you won't be home during the holidays or that you are going to be away from the house shopping.
Staying Safe While Shopping:
- Park in a well lit area as close to the entrance as possible. Lock your car and take your keys with you.
- Place purchases in the trunk of your car so they are out of sight.
- Always remain aware of your surroundings and visually scan the parking lot for suspicious activities or persons.
- Never leave your purse or purchases unattended.
- Avoid dark and/or isolated areas. If unavoidable, ask security to escort you to your vehicle.
- Have your keys in hand so that you are not searching for them once you reach your car.
- As you approach, check around, under and inside your car, to make sure no one is hiding.
- Enter your car and immediately lock the doors behind you.
Keeping Your Home Safe:
- Avoid displaying gifts where they can be seen from a window or doorway.
- Arrange to have packages delivered to a neighbor if you are not home and avoid leaving packages on your doorsteps or porches.
- Dispose of packaging discreetly. Criminals observe discarded product packaging of enticing items and then target you or your home for their next burglary or theft.
- Always lock your doors and windows, even if you are only gone for a few minutes.
Always remember the Police Department is here to serve and protect you. If at any time you observe suspicious activity, please call 703.838.4444 to report the incident.
Holiday Safety: Put a Freeze on Winter Fires
Each year fires that occur during the holiday season injure 2,600 individuals and cause over $930 million in damage. Here are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday.
Preventing Christmas Tree Fires
- Longing for a live tree? Special fire safety precautions need to be taken when keeping a live tree in the house. A burning tree can rapidly fill a room with fire and deadly gases.
- How to select a live tree: Needles should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needles should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground. If many needles fall off, the tree has been cut too long, has probably dried out, and is a fire hazard.
- Caring for your live tree: Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Do not put your live tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.
- Disposing of your tree: Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly.
- Choosing an artificial tree: If you have an artificial tree, be sure it is labeled, certified, or identified by the manufacturer as fire retardant.
- Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use, but not both.
- Inspect lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.
- Don't overload electrical outlets! Do not link more than three light strands. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires - they should not be warm to the touch.
- Never leave holiday lights on while unattended!
- All decorations should be nonflammable or flame-retardant and placed away from heat vents.
- Never put wrapping paper in a fireplace. It can throw off dangerous sparks and produce a chemical buildup in the home that could cause an explosion.
- Avoid using lit candles. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning.
- Never put lit candles on a Christmas tree. Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame - candles, lighters or matches.
Remember Everyday Fire Safety
Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help. And remember to practice your home escape plan.
Holiday Safety: Food Safety Tips
You may not realize that food safety is the most important ingredient in preparing food for the holidays. Use these four basic food safety tips to keep your holidays happy and your family and friends healthy. Remember, consistent practice is important to your family's health!
- Clean: Wash your hands and kitchen surfaces often! Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food. Wash cutting boards, utensils, and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
- Separate: Don't cross contaminate! Keep raw meat and poultry away from foods that won't be cooked.
- Cook: Cook food to a safe temperature and use a food thermometer! You can't tell food is cooked safely by how it looks.
- Chill: Refrigerate food promptly! Chill leftovers and takeout foods within 2 hours. Eat of freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Keep the refrigerator at 40°F or below.
Additional Links and Resources:
Making Your Holidays "Greener"
Eco-City Alexandria challenges you to enjoy your holidays while minimizing your impact on the environment. Check out these tips to make your holidays "greener."
- Consider purchasing a sturdy, artificial tree that can be stored and reused each year.
- Set out live trees for recycling at the curb during the City's Holiday Tree Collection in January.
- Use newspaper comics, children's artwork, or reusable gift bags for presents.
- Don't burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. Recycle it.
- Buy energy-saving LED holiday lights, which use 90 percent less energy than conventional holiday lights.
- Search for and buy gifts with minimal packaging.
- For stocking stuffers, buy in bulk to cut down on packaging.
- Shop and buy locally-grown foods for your holiday celebrations.
- Consider buying rechargeable batteries for toys and games with "batteries not included."
- Donate gently used items to resell at stores and shelters.
Did You Know the City Collects Christmas Trees for Recycling?
The City of Alexandria reminds residents to recycle their holiday Christmas trees. Residents who receive City refuse collection may place Christmas trees at the curb for recycling on regular trash collection days, beginning Monday, January 7 through Friday, January 18. Trees set out before that time will be collected as regular refuse. Please remember to not put trees in plastic bags and remove all stands and ornaments. For more information, please call 703.746.4410.
Holiday Books for Children
Librarians from Alexandria Library share their patrons' favorite holiday picks:
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas -- Dr. Seuss
- Morris's Disappearing Bag -- Rosemary Wells
- My First Kwanzaa -- Karen Katz
- My First Hanukkah / Christmas -- DK Books
- The Night Before Christmas – Rachel Isadora
- The Night Before New Year's -- Natasha Wing
- Snowflake Kisses and Gingerbread Smiles -- Toni Parker
- Santa Claus: The World's Number One Toy Expert -- Marla Frazee
- The Polar Express -- Chris Van Allsburg
- Seven Spools of Thread: A Kwanzaa Story -- Angela Medearis
- Our Eight Nights of Hanukkah -- Michael Rosen
- A Solstice Tree for Jenny -- Karen Shragg
- Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Steven Kellogg
- I Have A Little Dreidel – Maxie Baum
- The Night Before Christmas – Jan Brett