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O Christmas tree!

Published in For the Health of It Author: Melissa Hjelle

After Thanksgiving, most of us turn our focus to preparing for and looking forward to Christmas. For me, Christmas brings out the best of joy, generosity, laughter and love within. My Christmas spirit however does not begin without the annual hunt for and the lighting of our perfect family Christmas tree!

The Christmas tree has been a cherished tradition for generations of families. Thankfully this tradition has evolved with safer practices — such as us no longer hanging real lit candles on the tree as heard from stories past. The spirit and joy of the Christmas tree is the same with safer options today.

Below are some tips to make sure your perfect Christmas tree shines bright and beautiful while also keeping you, your loved ones, pets and homes safe.

Selecting and set-up

  • When selecting a live Christmas tree, make sure that it is fresh and not dry. Prior to purchasing, make sure the needles are hard to pull off and don’t break when bent.
  • When setting it up at home, pick a safe location. The tree should not block doorways and stay out of way of traffic in your home. Also, don’t place it near fireplaces, radiators, heater vents and TV sets. Finally, be sure to never place a space heater anywhere near your tree.
  • Start with a strong base. If your tree is loose or does not seem centered, reposition the stand’s bolts and screws.
  • Water your Christmas tree frequently. It will dry out quickly when you bring it indoors. It may absorb as much as a gallon of water the first few days after you set it up. It will need less over time, but be sure to continue to keep the stand filled.
  • Make sure all smoke alarms in your house are functioning. If needed, replace batteries or old alarms.

Lights and decorations

  • Inspect your lights. Make sure the cords are not frayed or bare. Throw or repair damaged sets.
  • Electricity and water doesn’t mix. Keep all cords and lights away from the Christmas tree stand.
  • Don’t just walk away. Be sure to turn off your Christmas lights whenever you leave your home or go to bed.

Special considerations for young children and pets

  • Think through your holiday. Trees, decorations and (especially) presents can be too much of a temptation for little ones. If you have infants or toddlers at home or if they’ll be visiting, consider placing baby gates or heavy boxes around it. You also may want to get a smaller tree that, if needed, can be moved or put out of reach.
  • Favor shatterproof ornaments. If you have small children or if one will be coming over during the holiday season, be sure to use decorations that are not breakable. If you have ornaments that are fragile, place them high up on the tree where they can’t be reached.
  • Be mindful of choking risks and sharp objects. Avoid placing small ornaments that could be a danger if swallowed by a young child. Additionally, use ribbon, yarn or twine to hang your decorations, instead of metal hooks.
  • If you own a cat or dog, strongly consider having an artificial Christmas tree. Pets can get ill if they eat tree needles or if they drink tree water.