The holiday season is a time for joyous celebration, heartfelt giving and gratitude, and time spent with loved ones. Though it remains to be seen how this year’s holiday season will be affected by the pandemic—family gatherings may become family Zoom meetings, presents may have to be exchanged through the mail, and Santa probably won’t be offering up his lap at the mall this year—one thing is certain: this year we need a bright, safe, heartwarming holiday more than ever before.
The Internet is already full of store coupon codes, holiday recipes, and lists of gift ideas. So this year, our gift to you is a comprehensive guide to holiday safety, with each section matched to a holiday carol to help you remember. (And trust us, keeping yourself and your family safe and healthy throughout the holiday season this year is worth more than any gift!)
1. “All I Want for Christmas”
Step one is all about self-care. It may seem like an odd place to start, but taking care of yourself will make every other aspect of navigating the holiday hustle and bustle that much easier.
First of all, if you’re a smoker, try to quit. Smokefree.gov is a great resource for smokers looking to quit the habit for good. (For extra motivation, be sure to check out the information on how your body starts to change for the better within hours after your very last cigarette!) If you don’t smoke but know someone who does, talk to them in earnest about quitting, and avoid inhaling their second-hand smoke.
Get your yearly check-up, your flu shot, and any other vaccinations you’re due for. The holidays are a bad time to get sick, but your chances of it increase dramatically with the onset of cold and flu season.
Make healthy food choices and stick to your workout routine. It’s okay to have a treat every now and then, but don’t fall off the wagon entirely.
Make time for self-care, like getting a massage, taking a bubble bath, or watching an episode of your favorite Netflix show without interruption. Self-care is more important at this time of year than at any other.
Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face if at all possible. Keep hand sanitizer nearby at all times and use it obsessively. Wear a face mask, even around friends and family, and request that they wear a mask in your presence too. It’s up to you and your loved ones to care enough to protect each other from unnecessary illness.
2. “Deck the Halls”
Step two is about keeping your home looking sweet and safe this holiday season. First, always lock all your doors and windows before leaving home—even on the upper floors—and remember to activate your home security system.
Store your gifts where they won’t be visible from outside.
Make sure your Christmas tree is firmly mounted on a sturdy base to prevent it from tipping or being pulled over.
If you have pets or small children, don’t keep a live poinsettia in the house—they’re beautiful, but also poisonous. Get a fake one instead and dust the leaves off when you take it out for display every year.
Never put wrapping paper in the fireplace. Some kinds are highly flammable and may cause flash fires and dangerous burns.
Never leave heat sources or open flames unattended. This includes space heaters and heated blankets as well as lit fireplaces. Also, make sure any potentially flammable decorations or other materials are kept several feet away from any heat source.
Never use equipment that runs on flammable materials, like charcoal or kerosene, indoors.
Check the cording on your Christmas lights for fraying or other damage. Avoid plugging too many lights and/or appliances into one outlet or power strip.
3. “Over the River and Through the Woods”
To grandmother’s house we go! Step three should remind you to travel safely. For starters, plan ahead and know exactly how to get where you’re going. If you’ve been there before but not recently, get an updated map and/or update your GPS data in case the route has changed since you last took it. Also, check the weather forecast and dress and pack accordingly.
Keep your holiday travel plans a secret from anyone who doesn’t need to know or can’t be fully trusted. And DON’T announce you’ll be away from home on social media—this tells anyone with a criminal mind exactly which house to break into.
DO, however, share your travel plans, route, and itinerary with a trusted friend or family member, and agree to text or call them once you reach your destination. That way, if something happens to you, someone will notice in time to take action.
Put your indoor and outdoor lights on a timer while you’re away and leave a TV or radio playing so it sounds like there’s someone home. And don’t draw all your blinds; blinds drawn during the day is a surefire signal to crooks that no one is home.
Watch out for your kids when visiting friends and relatives whose homes may or may not be childproofed.
Wear a protective face covering to protect loved ones at family outings and gatherings. Remember, anyone can catch COVID (even if they don’t show symptoms) and anyone can spread it.
4. “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”
Step four deals with mindfully enjoying social gatherings during the holidays. If you’re going out to celebrate with friends, make sure to assign a designated driver who will abstain from alcohol so they can drive everyone else in the group home safely. If you’re celebrating at home, make sure to have non-alcoholic beverages on offer as well as alcohol, and be prepared to secure transportation for guests too drunk to drive safely.
Drink responsibly. Know your limits. Eat a meal first so you’re not drinking on an empty stomach. Pace your drinks throughout the night, and remember that time is literally the only thing that will help you sober up.
NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE.
Practice kitchen safety while cooking for the holidays. Stay sanitary by keeping raw food—especially meat—away from cooked food and thoroughly washing raw fruits and vegetables before serving them. Also, refrigerate leftovers in a timely manner to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. For more on physical safety in the kitchen, check out this resource.
Don’t put off post-party cleanup. Left-out leftovers can attract flies and other insects or be eaten by curious pets, who may then get sick. Confetti and bits of wrapping paper can pose a choking hazard to babies and small children.
5. “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”
Hopefully this carol will help you remember to drive safely this year! To stay safe on the roads this winter, practice good defensive driving. Check the news for updates on road conditions before you leave the house, and avoid driving through shaded areas where patches of black ice may form.
Use your seatbelt and make sure the rest of your family is buckled in as well. Use an appropriate, safety-tested car seat for toddlers and small children. Only drive during the daytime if at all possible, and keep a well-stocked first aid kit and “breakdown kit” in your car.
Finally, never drink and drive, and don’t drive distracted, either. Leave the car radio and the heater settings alone and ignore the kids in the back while driving. Focus entirely on the road.
6. “What Child is This?”
Store clerks around America find themselves asking this very question every Christmas when presented with a lone child whose mother got distracted and lost track of him or her. If at all possible, leave your children at home with a trusted babysitter while shopping; small children are extremely distracting, and you can’t fully focus on keeping them safe, keeping yourself safe, and getting everything on your shopping list.
If you must take your children shopping with you, keep an eye on them at all times. Watching out for their safety is more important than grabbing the last sale item on the shelf before someone else does. They are your number one priority.
Never leave your motor running or your children behind when you leave your car, even if you just need to “run in real quick.” Never let children go to the bathroom or look around the store alone. Teach your kids about stranger danger and explain what they should do in case of an emergency.
7. “The Greatest Gift of All”
For some people, hunting down the perfect gifts for treasured friends and relatives is the most fun they have all year. For others, the thought of weaving through massive crowds at a shopping mall is literal nightmare fuel, and so they get everyone a gift card from the kiosk at Walgreens. Whichever type you are, if you do have to go out Christmas shopping this year, “The Greatest Gift of All” is coming home safely after nabbing everything on your list.
Holiday shopping safety starts in the parking lot. Avoid parking next to suspicious-looking vehicles, like nondescript vans, cars with seats missing, or cars with darkly tinted windows. Keep your car doors and windows closed and locked, whether you’re inside the car or out of it. Park in a well-lit, easily visible space near other cars. Don’t keep your purchases in the passenger seat where they’ll be clearly visible to thieves. Instead, hide them under your seat or lock them in your trunk. Be aware and alert when leaving or returning to your car. If in doubt, ask a mall cop or store security guard to escort you.
Dress casually and comfortably while shopping. Wear minimal jewelry and avoid flashy, expensive clothing. Avoid making yourself an obvious target. Also, don’t forget to wear your face mask!
Don’t carry too much cash. Better yet, don’t carry any. Pay for purchases with a debit or credit card if at all possible. Leave your purse and wallet at home; all you need for shopping is your debit or credit card and a photo ID. Keep them in your front pocket instead of your butt pocket, or get a wristlet to store them in so they’re always at hand but much harder to steal.
If you must carry cash in a wallet or a purse, be extra cautious while shopping. Don’t leave your purse unattended, even for a second or two, and keep your wallet in your side pocket rather than your rear pocket.
Don’t load yourself up with too many packages while out shopping. They can obstruct your view and restrict your mobility.
7. “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the world who don’t care if they get a lump of coal for Christmas. Stay vigilant against criminals and others who may try to take advantage of you. During the holidays, bad guys are especially bold and devious.
Don’t donate money to strangers who come to your door claiming to collect for charity. There’s no way to guarantee that the money you give them won’t just wind up lining their own pockets, and if you explain that’s why you’re choosing not to donate, a legitimate charity solicitor will understand and ask you to donate online instead.
And that’s what you should do; it’s the best way to make sure your money is going where it’s supposed to go. Avoid donating to big-name charities if you want your money to do the most good. Many huge “nonprofits” funnel most of their donations back into merchandising and advertising rather than using them to actually help anyone. Instead, donate to your local homeless shelter or animal shelter, or adopt a senior or a needy child from the Angel Tree and use the money to buy them some nice gifts.
Be wary of any strangers who approach you for any reason. Criminals are definitely not above inventing a ruse to distract you so they can steal your money or possessions. Likewise, never open your door to strangers, even if they seem festive and innocuous.
8. “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night”
Hopefully these holiday safety tips will help you be a good “shepherd” to your loved ones this Christmas season. But who’s going to have your back while you’re out shopping, sledding, and celebrating, or even while you’re dreaming visions of sugarplums in your bed at night? TOPPS Security, that’s who!
The TOPPS Security Key Fob makes a wonderful gift for your children, spouse, or senior relatives because it connects them to help immediately in the event of an emergency. It’s discreet, easy to carry, and easy to use—with the push of a button, the TOPPS Security Key Fob sends an instant alert to an agent at the TOPPS Security network with your exact GPS coordinates, so they can contact your local emergency services right away and send them directly to your location. The key fob has a battery life of up to 5 days and comes with its own charger, so you can keep it charging next to your bed and have easy access to help in case of a break-in or other nighttime emergency.
Let TOPPS give you peace of mind as well as peace on earth this holiday season. Order your TOPPS Security key fob by December 15th to ensure delivery in time for Christmas.