If you have the space, your garage may be the ideal place to store holiday decorations in the off-season. It will not only keep them more out of the way, but a garage is generally less dusty than a house. Here are a few tips on organizing and storing items in your garage.
If you’re storing an artificial tree, the box it came in is ideal, since it is not only the appropriate size, it’s already labeled for you. You probably won’t need any of the protective packaging it came with (if any), but you can re-use the plastic bags for individual parts. Just fold or tape the top down, and it’s good to rest until next year.
When storing ornaments, it’s a no-brainer to use extra delicate care in packaging and storing. Wrap individual ornaments in bubble wrap or surround them all with packing peanuts. Place hardier ornaments on the bottom, and the most delicate on top. Make sure to label the box correctly so that you and everyone else will know to take care when handling it.
Christmas lights can also be stored in the box they came in, and be sure to store them high enough so they won’t be stepped on and crushed. To keep them from becoming tangled, wind them between your elbow and the palm of your hand, making sure not to wind them so tight you can’t remove them from your arm.
A handy method to store your decorations is to form a stack, with the Christmas tree at the bottom, then the boxes of ornaments, and then the boxes of lights on top.
Thanksgiving is a little over a week away, and as always it’s a great time to gather with friends and family and reflect on all the things in life to be grateful for. But if you would like to extend your gratitude outward, by helping out others less fortunate, there are plenty of options in the Washington D.C. area. Here are a few places you may consider volunteering with.
SOME (So Others Might Eat) is a D.C-based charity that has been serving the area’s homeless and poor for over 40 years. This year they’re having their 11th annual Turkey Day Trot for hunger, which is a great way to work up a healthy appetite for your own meal later in the day. They are also taking donations of non-perishable food and volunteers. For more information, visit their site.
Food & Friends is a non-profit who provide specialized meals and nutrition counseling to men, women and children living with HIV, cancer, and other serious illnesses. Right now if you purchase a pie for your own Thanksgiving meal, your money will feed a person in need for a day. Not a bad way to make your dessert pull double duty.
If you want to volunteer your time by serving a feast to others, the Community for Creative Non-Violence is looking for help on Thanksgiving Day. The CCNV provides basic care for the homeless and poor, and anyone interested in helping out for the dinner can call 202-393-1909.
The Capital Area Food Bank is a non-profit that provides food to those in need. For the Thanksgiving season they’re running a campaign called “Bringing in the Birds with Bucks”, with the goal of providing meals for 3900 needy senior citizens.
Whatever you decide to do with your Thanksgiving holiday, we wish you and yours all the best.
If hurricane Sandy and her aftermath have made anything clear, it’s that you can’t be too prepared for a natural disaster. Even if the storm passes your home, the aftermath could leave you stranded without power and other services. Here are five ways you can use your garage to equip yourself for the event of a disaster.
Water storage. Storing water takes space, since the recommended amount is one gallon per person per day, for at least three days. If you have the room in your garage, you can keep jugs of water on a shelf, or even a large water barrel. If you have potable water on hand, you’ve already met your most crucial survival need.
Food storage. You can purchase a bucket of emergency meals from bulk discount stores such as Costco. These buckets are stackable, and hold up to 330 meals. This is much easier than setting up a pantry of individual items.
Gasoline. Depending on the severity of the disaster, your area could be left without access to gasoline. You may want to store extra gasoline in your garage to give you the option of mobility in the event of a crisis. Make sure to store your fuel safely, with room for expansion, and use a stabilizer if you are not rotating it out.
Disaster Supplies Kit. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a recommended disaster supplies kit, found on their site . Some of the items, such as food and water, are covered above, but the rest you can keep in a storage container for easy, quick access.
Organization. The last thing you want in a power outage is to be fumbling around in a dark garage, looking for a flashlight or batteries. Keep your garage organized so you know right where to go to find what you need.
Anyone can decorate their house and yard with Halloween decorations, but if you want to take it to the next level, why not turn your garage into a haunted house? With a few steps you can turn your ordinary garage into a small but effective haunted house. And who knows, maybe this is the perfect motivator to finally get that garage cleaned for fall?
The first step is safety and security. Remove any sharp object or tools. Make sure if an object is hanging, it is hanging securely, and could survive being yanked. If not, remove it. If this haunted house will be open to the neighborhood, remove any items you don’t want stolen. Supervision is key for both safety and security.
Now that the space is safe and secure, you’ll want to light it properly. You want it dim enough to be spooky, but not so dim people are crashing into your decorations. Buy a red or blue bulb to replace your ordinary garage light, or use electric candles or electric torches. Avoid using real candles or fire for obvious reasons.
Choose your atmosphere. Is this is a science-fiction haunted house, with aliens, or a classic one with the usual cast of monsters? You can mix themes, but it might help you choose decorations if you know the overall look.
You can easily build walls from stacked cardboard boxes (available at any liquor store), or unfolded large appliance boxes. A big part of the scares from a haunted house is not knowing what’s around the next corner. Give your garage lots of corners!
Not all decorations have to be expensive. Use black crepe paper strands to create ‘curtains’ that people can’t see through. Spiderwebs are easily made from pulled cotton. If you have access to them, dried corn stalks are also inherently kind of creepy. If you can, close your garage door halfway to limit outside light, and create a naturally low door.
No haunted house is complete without monsters, so have fun with your costume, and anyone you’ve recruited to help out. Again, think of the overall tone of your haunted house when you’re choosing a costume. Is this for kids of all ages, or are you looking to send even the hardiest older kid screaming into the night?
Once you’re ready to go, remember the general rule of haunted houses (if yours is open to the public): no touching or grabbing anyone. Keep the scares hands-off.
Good luck with your haunted garage, and who knows, you could start a neighborhood tradition!
ABC takes great pride in our communities, and we like to celebrate the uniqueness of each of the areas we operate in. Halloween is almost upon us, and if you’re still unsure of your plans on October 31st, or the days leading up to it, the D.C. area has plenty to offer both children and adults. Here are a few of the choices that caught our eye.
Hallowmarine is a special one night only attraction at the National Aquarium with face painting, a costume contest, spooky scavenger hunt, animal trivia with prizes, and a real live (musical) band of pirates. Catch Hallowmarine on October 27th.
Another one night only attraction is the Silver Spring Zombie Walk, wherein anyone with an urge to shuffle and eat brains can join in the fun. The assemblage of the undead starts around 8, and they’re closing out the night with screenings of the films Grindhouse and Shaun of the Dead at the AFI theater.
If you want to celebrate Halloween and get a bit more culture, the Washington Ballet is performing Dracula from October 24th through November 4th. Tickets are on sale now at the Kennedy Center’s website.
Want to go trick-or-treating in a decidedly wild place? Then check out Boo at the Zooat the National Zoo, October 26th-28th. There are more than 30 treat stations throughout the zoo and they even include a treat bag with your admission.
There is a great indoor trick-or-treating option at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum with the Air & Scare on October 27th. Kids can participate in crafts, spooky science experiments, and get their picture taken with characters from Star Wars.
Regardless of what you decide to do on this Halloween holiday, we wish you a safe but scary celebration!
We’ve all been in the garage, in a hurry to leave, but very few of us have just driven through the garage door. While there are many disasters that can befall a garage door, perhaps none are as devastating as just driving a car through one. Here are three recent cases in the news of extreme human error in properly entering and exiting a garage.
In Georgetown, Kentucky, an intruder broke into an auto shop through a side door and then stole an SUV that was being held for non-payment. The thief then drove it right out through the closed garage door, leaving a gaping hole and plenty of glass behind. The burglar in this case is still at large.
In Pompano Beach, Florida, an elderly man confused his accelerator for the brake pedal and drove his SUV up and over a lawn, through some mailboxes and finally through a metal garage door.
And in Clayton, Missouri, a homeowner caught a burglar rifling through his SUV red-handed. The surprised thief started up the vehicle and then reversed it right through the garage door, causing $2,200 in damages. The man was later caught and arrested.
Drivers of the world, take note: There’s a better way to open a garage door, and it’s likely right above you, clipped to the visor.
If you live in a city, or even a suburb, there’s a chance your garage door is at risk for graffiti. Graffiti clean-up can be costly and time-consuming, and if you don’t take care of it, you may run the risk of being cited by your city government. Here are three tips to discourage people from vandalizing your property.
- Install a motion-sensitive outdoor light. Vandals prefer to do their work under the cover of darkness, so removing that option may drive them away. Ensure the light is nice and bright, and that it provides wide coverage over the area you want to protect.
- Put up a ‘Beware of Dog’ sign. Even if you don’t own a dog, putting up a warning sign may make an intruder reconsider their plan. A dog is an unpredictable variable for a vandal, and the last thing they want is a barking dog to bring attention their way.
- Apply an anti-graffiti coating. Many companies manufacture anti-graffiti coating or paint you can apply to your garage door to make graffiti removal much easier. The goal of a graffiti vandal is to have their handiwork seen, and if they realize it won’t be sticking around, chances are they won’t, either.
In the summer, many of us get lazy about parking in our garages. We figure that if the weather is nice we might as well park in the street or on our driveway. But here are three excellent reasons, shown to you in images, of why you should park your car in a safe and secure garage, every single night.