Decorate Safely for the Holidays

I love decorating for the holidays with live plants. To me just the smell of fresh evergreen wreaths and trees says Happy Holidays.

The holiday season has almost no limitations from a decorative standpoint. In addition to the live Christmas tree and traditional wreaths, many decorate with poinsettias, door swags, garlands, centerpieces, roping, and decorative berries. However, when using live plant material, we either don't realize or ignore the dangers involved when decorating with them. Here are some practical guidelines to follow to insure your family has a safe and well decorated holiday season!

Remember to keep your live Christmas tree watered, which will help keep fire hazards away. Also, realize that some people may be allergic to live trees in the home. I've heard several stories over the years of people having allergic reactions or asthma flare-ups due to their Christmas tree. If this is a problem in your home, you might need to rethink the live tree.

The holiday season has become extended over the years. Many people put their fresh decorations up earlier every year and expect them to last past the holiday season. Fresh cut evergreens will dry out in the heat of our homes and become very flammable. If possible, soak your fresh wreaths, roping, and garlands in water and allow them to dry before decorating. This helps re-hydrate the fresh greens and extend their life indoors. If this is not possible, wreaths, roping, and garlands can be sprayed with an anti-transpirant to help slow the moisture loss through the leaves.

Be careful not to place wreaths, roping, or garland too close to a heat source, light, candle, or other potentially hazardous situation. A fresh wreath placed on a front door with a glass outer door will dry out very quickly. Ideally, we should not keep fresh evergreens too long. They are only fresh a few days unless a constant water source is available.

Fresh centerpieces with candles are also popular and very beautiful. Please, never leave a lit candle centerpiece unattended. Use of a glass hurricane is a better idea because it keeps the flame away from potentially flammable plant material. I prefer to use candle jars within the centerpiece for added safety.

Some holiday plants chosen for their attractive berries are also poisonous. Poison berries are found on holly plants, yews, mistletoe, ivy plants, Jerusalem cherry, bittersweet, snowberry, and crown of thorns. Poinsettia plants are actually not considered poisonous, but its milky sap does cause skin irritation in some people. Keep all these plants out of the reach of children and curious pets.

I wish you each a Safe and Happy Holiday!