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Holiday Tips From the City of Alpharetta

Released November 17, 2023 02:27 PM

We want your holiday season to be a time of joy, love, and creating wonderful memories. But the hustle and bustle that comes with this special time of year can also cause us to let our guard down or become careless in our rush to reconnect with family and engage in holiday fun. That is why the City of Alpharetta wants to share a few tips to help your holidays stay merry and bright.


Tip 1: Get to know your neighbors

If you do not already know and interact with your neighbors, the holiday season is a great time to start. Neighbors watching out for neighbors is a great way to spot suspicious activity and keep our community safe. If you are heading out of town for the holidays. let your neighbors know when you will be back and if anyone will be stopping by while you are away. If you know your neighbor is out of town and there is an unfamiliar vehicle in the driveway, give them a call to make sure it is just “Uncle Bob watching the house” while they are gone,


Tip 2: Use our Vacation Home Check Program

The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety offers a free program through which Alpharetta police officers will add extra patrols to keep an eye on your home while you are traveling. Our officers will stop by periodically to check doors and windows and help watch for any suspicious activity. The program gives you piece of mind while you are away and helps us more quickly spot any criminals who may try to visit our community. To sign-up, visit and then select the Vacation Home Check link.


Tip 3: Make your car travel-ready

If you will be traveling by car, pay a visit to your favorite mechanic before you leave to check all of the vehicle’s fluids, brakes, battery, tires, and major systems. Update or prepare your vehicle’s “ready kit” so you are prepared for minor breakdowns or if you become stranded (learn more at

Tip 4: Do not leave valuables in your car

Never leave valuables in your car, especially where they can be seen. Smash and grabs from vehicles is one of the most common crimes in Alpharetta, and during the holidays criminals do their shopping in store and hotel parking lots. Stay alert to your surroundings and take a moment to glance around for possible suspicious persons, vehicles, and/or situations. Prior to getting into your vehicle take a look inside and around before entering. If you observe evidence of a possible burglary, call law enforcement immediately.


Tip 5: Stay alert to your surroundings

When you are shopping or in crowded places, be alert for potential thieves. Be wary of strangers approaching you for any reason. The holiday season is notorious for criminals who may attempt to distract you with the intention of taking your money or belongings and con artists who may try to get you to donate to a fake charity. Never leave personal belongings unattended, and try to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.


Tip 6: Be careful when shopping online

It may help you avoid traffic and crowds, but the internet does have its risks. The National Cyber Security Alliance recommends that you make sure you have a security suite (firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware) installed and updated with the most current information before shopping online, and keep your operating system and Web browser up-to-date. Before you enter your personal and financial information for an online transaction, look for signs that the site is secure. This includes a closed padlock on your Web browser's address bar or a URL address that begins with https. This indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured. Never use unsecured wireless networks to make an online purchase.


Tip 7: Make your home travel-ready

When you are traveling, you want your home to look like you are still around so it is less inviting to criminals. Be extra cautious about locking windows, sliders, and doors when leaving for any length of time. Set indoor and outdoor lights on timers and think about doing the same with a television or radio to make it appear as if someone is home. Never keep gifts or valuable objects in plain view from any window.


Tip 8: Do not make your home a fire hazard

If you have a live Christmas tree, make sure it is fresh and keep it watered. Whether your tree is live or artificial, keep it away from fireplaces and other heat sources and check all of the cords for your holiday lights and decorations to make certain they are not frayed or broken. Do not string too many light strands together – no more than three per extension cord. If you hang stockings on the mantel, do it with care – do not light the fireplace while they are there.


Tip 9: Be safe in the kitchen

Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains - away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat. If you are frying, grilling or broiling food, never leave it unattended – stay in the kitchen. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove. If you’re simmering, baking, roasting or broiling food, check it regularly. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off. Have a fire extinguisher handy, make sure it has not expired, and know how to use it.


Tip 10: Do not leave boxes outside where they can be seen

If you have purchased or been gifted things like televisions, computers, or other expensive items, do not just put the boxes out at the curb with the trash. That is like a shopping list for criminals. Break those boxes down so they can fit into the trash/recycling cart. If you are doing your shopping online, consider having those items delivered to your workplace or make arrangements with a neighbor who will be at home so deliveries are not left unattended on your porch.

Tip 11: Celebrate responsibly

Many people celebrate the season by attending holiday parties with family and friends. Enjoy these gatherings responsibly so this time of joy does not become a time of tragedy. Watch how much you drink, and never drink and drive. Choose a designated driver or use a ride-sharing service.


Bonus Tip: Keep things simple and laugh along the way

If we are being honest, we all probably get a little stressed at this time of year. Making a perfect Thanksgiving feast for the whole family, throwing a holiday party for 20 of your “closest friends,” working those special gifts into your budget, and having Aunt Ethel and Uncle Sid as house guests for five days is enough to leave anyone pulling their hair out. Take a deep breath. Remember that all of that stuff is just the trimming that decorates the real meaning behind the holidays we celebrate. Recognize that no matter how perfect your memories of childhood holidays past, the reality was way different. Somewhere along the way, there was that strand of lights that kept going out on the tree, the dog got into somebody’s favorite side dish, and Cousin Eddie . . . ugh, Cousin Eddie. Today, those are memories that you laugh at, so when they happen now laugh a bit and remember you just created a new family holiday story.