The holidays can be a wonderful time in Arlington, a chance to celebrate with family, spend time with friends, and reflect on a new year.
Arlington’s guide to the holidays is here to help make this season fun, festive and safe. We hope it is truly the most wonderful time of the year, no matter how you choose to celebrate.
Make a List, and Check it Twice
Ensure your holidays are as festive as they are safe by keeping in mind some of these tips and precautions this season.
- Keep Your Pipes FOG Free — Don’t let the health of our sewers go down the drain — especially during the big cooking (and eating) holidays. Fats, oils and grease, known collectively as “FOG,” represent the most serious enemy of our sewer lines and is the No. 1 cause of sewage backups in homes. FOG builds up in sewer lines when people wash grease down the drain. Can it, cool it, and throw it away.
- Winter Fire Safety — Keeping you and your family safe from fires starts by ensuring you have working smoke alarms and a home fire escape plan. The Arlington County Fire Department has additional tips to keep your safe this winter, on everything from space heaters to candles.
- If You See Something, Say Something® this Holiday Season — With the busy Holiday Season upon us, residents and visitors of Arlington are asked to help keep our community safe by remaining engaged and alert. Police are reminding the public about the importance of the “See Something, Say Something®” anti-terrorism public awareness campaign and urging residents to report suspicious activity for investigation.
- Holiday Food Safety Tips — As the end of the year approaches, it’s likely there are multiple meals and parties in your future. Carrying food from one location to another and sharing dishes with a crowd means more opportunity for bacteria to grow and cause food poisoning. Whether you’re an experienced cook or simply adding a dish to the potluck lineup, follow these steps to keep your holiday season food poisoning-free.
Holiday Schedule: County Government Offices close Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Jan. 1
A Partridge in a Pear Tree
There is no shortage of great options for your holiday shopping in Arlington (have you checked out the Made in Arlington pop-up market?). With major indoor and outdoor shopping venues, charming European-style promenades, and hundreds of specialty shops and boutiques, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in Arlington. And while you’re shopping this holiday season, keep in mind these great opportunities to help those who may be less fortunate.
- Secret Santa — Want to help kids in foster care, low-income families and seniors, and people with disabilities? Learn how donating gift cards from area stores to the Secret Santa Program can make the holidays a bit brighter for more than 1,000 of your neighbors.
- ACFD for AFAC — While you’re shopping for holiday meals, don’t forget about those who may not be as fortunate. The Arlington County Fire Department is asking for the public’s assistance in collecting food for the Arlington County Food Assistance Center (AFAC) this holiday season. Through Jan. 6, 2019, all 10 County Fire Stations will have a collection box for food donations — find the one closest to you.
Let It Snow
While long-range forecasts vary, Arlington again hopes for the best — something like last winter’s lone one-day blast — while preparing for the worst. And remember that residents play a vital role in dealing with winter’s impact:
- Coordinate with neighbors to park cars on one side of the street, where feasible, or avoid on-street parking so snowplow operators can efficiently clear a wider span of roadway
- Don’t park “head in” on cul-de-sacs so plows have more room to maneuver
- Clear sidewalks, fire hydrants and storm drains, tossing snow toward buildings, not the street, BUT
- Wait for plows to come by before clearing snow from the front of driveways, to minimize the amount pushed back by plows
- Stay home and out of the car or use mass transit only to reduce the number of potentially stranded vehicles
- Apply only the recommended minimal amount of chemical de-icers on sidewalks and driveways to attain safe footing
- Stay connected through the County’s Snow and Ice Central webpage and DES social media platforms for updates on snow phases, transportation, trash and other important notifications. Follow DES on Twitter @ArlingtonDES and on Facebook at Arlington County Department of Environmental Services.
Oh, What Fun it Is To Ride
- Holiday Lights Bike Ride 2018 — Join Bike Arlington for a social bike ride on Dec. 18 to check out some neighborhood light displays. Winter and holiday-themed bike decorations and costumes, including lighting, are definitely encouraged. (As seen in Bicycling Magazine’s 12 Group Rides to Keep You Sweating Over the Holidays)
WINTER HOLIDAY FUN IN ARLINGTON: From cozy campfires to seasonal concerts
Marshmallows for Toasting and Caroling Out in the Snow
- Campfires — The whole family is invited to join in DPR’s campfires for some old fashioned fun. You’ll hear campfire stories, play games, sing songs and, of course, enjoy s’mores!
- Solstice Eve Hike & Campfire — Celebrate the longest night of the year with candle making and roasting marshmallows for s’mores before taking a night hike under the full moon.
And Mom and Dad Can Hardly Wait for School to Start Again
With the Arlington Public Schools Winter Holiday running from Dec. 24, 2018 through Jan. 4, 2019, children in the County — and perhaps their parents, too — will be looking for fun seasonal activities. Fortunately, both Parks & Rec and Arlington Public Libraries have programs and classes to help keep every kid on the nice list.
- Winter Break Camps — Kids can enjoy a variety of activities during DPR’s Kids in Action Winter Break Camps including fitness, health and nutrition, and creative arts, while those 10-14 years old will have fun games and trips with friends.
- Holiday Drop and Shop — Parents, here is a great opportunity to get that holiday shopping completed. Drop off your child for a fun-filled evening of activities (obstacle courses, tumble tramp, foam pit, games and more) at Barcroft Sport & Fitness Center. Pizza and drink will be provided. $40 per child (ages 4-6). Sign up at registration.arlingtonva.us, activity #110510.
- Upcycling Holiday Crafts: Book Trees — Join Glencarlyn Branch Library as they tap into some book-ish creativity by creating altered book holiday trees for a festive, literary centerpiece on Dec. 17.
- Write a letter to Santa — On Dec. 18, kids can get help writing a letter to Santa. Everything you need will be provided at the Glencarlyn Branch Library.
- Decorate a Gingerbread House — In the mood to construct a delicious dwelling? Libraries has a couple opportunities to build a gingerbread house: Dec. 20 at Shilrington Branch Library, 4:30 p.m., and then again Dec. 22 at Glencarlyn Branch Library, 11 a.m.
Rockin’ Recyclin’ Around the Christmas Tree
Wondering what to do with that Christmas tree after the holidays? During the first two full weeks of each January, Christmas trees are collected curbside for residential homes with trash and recycling service. (Reminder: get the tree on the curb no later than 6 a.m., and remove all decorations.)
The trees will be transformed by the Department of Environmental Services into wood mulch for gardens. After Jan. 19, please prepare the tree for yard waste collection on your regular trash collection day.
Residents who don’t have curbside recycling service can bring Christmas trees to the Solid Waste Bureau during the Christmas tree collection season. Call 703-228-6570 to schedule an appointment, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-3 p.m.
Holiday Recycling Guide: Don’t Let the Holidays Go to Waste