9 Dangerous Christmas Decorations That Make the Naughty List

This hazardous holiday decor of yore could've turned Christmas sleigh into Christmas slay.

Published November 20, 2023

It’s a wonder our parents lived long enough to create us. Just take a quick look at the variety of delightfully strange old commercials, and you’ll find a plethora of dangerous toys and deadly appliances. But did you know even the holidays weren’t exempt from this fate-challenging trend? These dangerous Christmas decorations could turn a silent night into a deadly night in a snap.

Christmas Tree Candles


Topping the list is the Christmas decoration that defies all common sense. Christmas tree candles are, without a doubt, a terrifying way to play God in your own house. Sure, attaching a wax taper candle to a tiny metal stand and clipping it to a live Christmas tree sounds like an okay idea until you start lighting them up like it's time to blow out the birthday candles.

Needless to say, paper might beat rock, but Christmas tree definitely doesnt beat open-flame Christmas tree candle.

Vintage Tinsel


We’re convinced that whoever invented glitter also made a killing out of creating tinsel because only someone with that kind of tortured genius could make a decoration you can’t get rid of. While tinsel is a Christmas décor staple and glints so prettily off of the lights, it’s not the safest decoration in the box.

Tinsel today is mostly made out of PVC, meaning it's not too flammable. But vintage tinsel was made out of tin and lead and would spark a flame quicker than a sparkler on the Fourth of July. Now, this already sounds like a bad idea, right? Well, it gets worse when you look back at pictures and see just how much tinsel they coated their trees with. Sure, who doesn’t want to drip their already flammable plants in extra flammable glitter?

Aluminum Christmas Trees


If you grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, you weren’t a cool house unless you had an aluminum Christmas tree. A space-age fantasy if ever we saw one, aluminum trees used aluminum strips to create a silvery halo of leaves and branches.

On top of being flammable (are you sensing the theme here?), they could also electrocute you. You read that right. On very rare occasions, these metal needles could enter a lamp socket on a live string of lights (which they specifically said not to use) and electrify that section of the tree. One wrong move, and you’re making like the Aunt Bethany's cat in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

Blown Glass Tree Toppers


Before the plastic and wire tree toppers we use today were all the rage, people were buying beautifully hand-blown glass toppers to finish off their Christmas trees. These glass toppers get all the points for style, but none of the points for practicality.

If you’ve ever had a cat who likes to sleep inside your tree or a dog who’s determined to sniff every present under the tree and knock it over in the process, then you know exactly why you wouldn’t use safe to describe a giant glass cone sitting on top of your 7’ tree.

Antique Mercury Glass Ornaments


Admittedly, mercury is one of the coolest looking elements that Mother Nature offers. We like to keep our elemental mercury far away from our Christmas presents, but our ancestors sure didn’t. Mercury glass ornaments were blown double walled and filled with mercury (later silver nitrate) to create that beautiful, mirrored reflection.

While these bad boys withstood grubby toddler handprints better than any plastic ornament, they were about as hazardous as hazardous can get. One wrong move, and it cracked open, leaving a small amount of mercury chilling on your hardwood. Let’s just say we’ll stick to modern ornaments for now, thanks.

Incandescent Christmas Lights


It feels like before everyone panicked about Y2K, everyone was in a race to see who could make their already flammable Christmas trees more flammable. The lights on your trees right now are probably LEDs and create a bright color without much heat.

Hop back in time just a few decades, and you could lay out under your tree and get a tan from the powerful heat emanating off of those old string lights. Old incandescent string lights did their job a little too well, and they’re the main reason why so many Christmas trees caught on fire. What better way to spend Christmas than watching your tree turn into a New Age burning bush?

Artificial Snow Made of Asbestos


Given the sheer volume of toxic chemicals our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were exposed to, we’re surprised we don’t glow in the dark. Today, you mention the word asbestos, and the TV lawyers and expensive removal crews come running. But back in the 1940s, people were inhaling asbestos like it was going out of style.

Currently, artificial snow is mostly made out of water with a little bit of polymer mixed in, but back then, it was everyone’s best friend — asbestos. If we had a nickel for every time a decade was rampant with a dangerous white powder, we’d have two nickels, which is just enough to be weird.

Noma Bubble Lights


Even bubbles were dangerous in the 1940s! You might recognize that box of Noma bubble lights and remember the cool lava-lamp effect they had. But you probably didn’t realize that those glass lights contained methylene chloride, a harmful liquid with a low boiling point. So the real danger comes in when one of them breaks and leaks out the colorless liquid.

Of course, who are we to think that skin irritation, nausea, and potential death is enough to ruin the fun that a few bubbles can bring?

Metal Ornament Hangers


To finish off our list is the most superficial but irritatinglt dangerous Christmas decoration of the bunch — metal ornament hangers. You’d have thought that these unbent paper clips would’ve been replaced by a handier, easier-to-store gadget by now. But no, metal ornament hangers have a chokehold on the Christmas season.

Accidentally dropping one off the tree (or while you’re stringing up ornaments) is as dangerous as walking barefoot on a dirty beach. And if you’re on ornament hanger duty, then you’ll spend hours accumulating pin prick after pin prick trying to just extricate one hanger from the massive clump. This is a game of Operation that no one deserves to play.

Get a One-Way Ticket to a Blue Christmas


During the Christmas season, you sign up for things like merriment and joy, not visits to the ER. Avoid turning your white Christmas into a blue one by steering clear of these dangerous Christmas decorations from years past. 

9 Dangerous Christmas Decorations That Make the Naughty List