The holiday season has almost no limitations from a decorative standpoint. Your decorations can be refined and subdued or they may be exuberant and extravagant.

You may choose to emphasize architectural features such as stairways, fireplace mantles and doorways. Dining room tables, coffee tables, and buffets or servers offer convenient and prominent places for centerpieces.

Indoor decorations may make use of delicate ornaments and subtle colors to blend or contrast with interior color schemes. Outdoor decorations should be sturdy enough to withstand the punishment of the weather.

Easily soiled ribbons and fragile ornaments are impractical. Clear bold colors stand out well and are more appropriate for viewing from a distance.

Wreaths, door swags, garlands, centerpieces and roping are all wonderful additions to our homes during the holidays. Often, we use live evergreen materials, and many people 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.

The holiday season has become extended over the years. Many people put their fresh decorations up earlier every year and expect them to last the season.

Fresh-cut evergreens will dry out in the heat of our homes and become very flammable. Always remember:

  • Cut tree needs a fresh cut as soon as you bring it home. A straight cut removing 1 to 2 inches from the base is recommended. Place the trunk in a bucket of clean water and store the tree in a cool place until ready to bring indoors.
  • When you display the tree, the stand should have a reservoir of adequate size for the tree you purchased. The National Christmas Tree Association recommends the stand should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Check the water level every day making sure it never drops below the cut edge. Clean, fresh tap water is fine.
  • Use lights that produce low heart and follow all manufacturer recommendations regarding how many sets can be strung together.
  • Avoid placing your fresh tree near a fireplace or furnace outlet, as the heat emitted will cause the tree to dry out rapidly.
  • If possible, reduce the room temperature. A cooler room will reduce the amount of moisture evaporating from the tree.
  • Wreaths, roping and garlands should be soaked in water and allowed to dry before decorating. This helps re-hydrate the fresh greens and extend their life indoors.
  • Spray wreaths, roping and garland with an anti-transparent or anti-desiccant before decorating to slow moisture loss.
  • Be careful not to place wreaths, roping or garlands too close to a heat source or light.
  • A fresh wreath placed on a south-facing front door with a glass outer door, will dry out quickly.
  • Candle centerpieces should never be left unattended when lighted.
  • Glass hurricanes work well to prevent flame coming in contact with fresh greens. Centerpiece frames that hold the candles above the centerpiece also work well keeping the flame away from fresh greens.
  • Many of the holiday plants chosen for their attractive berries are poisonous. Yew (Taxus species), ivy (Hedera helix), holly (Ilex species), mistletoe (Phoradendron species), Jerusalem cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum), crown-of-thorns (Euphorbia milii), bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) and snowberry (Symphoricarpus albus) are all poisonous and should be placed out of reach of children and pets.
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