From stringing the lights to cooking up the roast beast, the holidays come with plenty of chaos (and lots of fun). Amid the hustle and bustle of the season, it's good to keep a few Christmas safety tips in mind. These simple hacks will help you keep your holiday merry instead of scary this year, and they're easy to work into your normal celebrations.
Use a Christmas Light Safety Checklist
When it comes to stringing up the Christmas lights, safety might not be the first thing on your mind (for me, it's usually trying to keep my Scrooge partner from hating the job). Still, whether you're stringing lights on your house or your tree, it's not that hard to keep things safe.
We like to run through a quick checklist right as we're putting the lights up. Then as long as you make sure to turn them off when you're asleep or not there, you're good to go. Here's what to look for:
- Functional - Check that the lights function before you even start putting them on. Replace bulbs as needed so you know if there's something odd with the wiring.
- In good condition - Look for anything funky with the strands of lights — no frayed cords or weird plugs, that sort of thing. Replace the strand if you need to.
- Modern - Be aware of and consider replacing any incandescent lights (those suckers get hot). LEDs stay cool and are way cheaper to operate, too.
- Rated properly - Double check that you're only using outdoor-rated lights on the outside of your house. You can find that info on the tag that's probably still attached near the plug.
We like putting lights on a timer so they won't stay on all the time. You should still turn them off when you leave or when you're asleep, but a timer helps.
Use the 4:1 Ladder Rule for Christmas Decorations
If you put lights or decorations on the outside of your house, you're probably going to need a ladder. We have the ultimate holiday ladder safety hack, and it's just a simple number ratio. It's the 4:1 rule.
Basically for every four feet you climb up the ladder, you need the base of the ladder to be at least a foot from your house (or tree or whatever you're decorating). This helps keep the ladder stable (though it's still good to have someone on the ground to hold the base).
Measure Your Kid's (or Pet's) Reach
Anyone who has witnessed first-hand the tornado of damage a toddler can become knows how important it is to child-proof your home, but it's somehow easy to forget this during the holidays. We get it. Those beautiful ornaments deserve to be seen on the tree.
Our hack for keeping things (and kids) safe is measuring a kid's reach. For real. Get out an actual measuring tape and see where those fingertips can stretch. Then use that as your decorating guide. Unless there's a chair handy or your kiddo is related to Inspector Gadget, you can put the fragile things above that line.
The same strategy goes for pets, but we're not going to lie: it's a little trickier. Know where your pet can access and what they're likely to get into. And if your cat is a climber, consider packing away all the valuables until they (hopefully) settle down.
Set a Timer When You Light a Candle or Fire
Christmas comes with candles or, if you're really lucky, a fire in the fireplace. The thing is, it's easy to get distracted and leave the flame burning unattended. There's just so much going on at this time of year (and so much eggnog).
Our hack for Christmas candle and fire safety is setting a timer as soon as we light the fire. It's just an extra reminder to blow out the candle or put out the fire in case you forget. If your phone timer goes off before you're ready to be done enjoying the coziness, just reset the timer.
Undershare on Social Media During the Holidays
We've all heard of oversharing on social media, but one of our easiest holiday safety tips is undersharing. The concept is simple, but it does take a conscious choice.
The more you put out there about your holiday plans, the specific gifts you're buying, or even the party you're planning, the more vulnerable you are to people who might take advantage of that information. That might just mean Aunt Joan angling for an invite to your party, but it could also put your at risk for a break-in when you're away from home. Even though it's tempting to share your excitement about what you're doing this season in your Instagram stories, it's safer to keep some of it to yourself.
Keep a Blanket in Your Car When Shopping
Just like you don't really want to advertise your plans on the interwebs, it's better not to advertise all your purchases when you're out Christmas shopping. Here's our pro tip for that: keep a blanket in your car, and toss it over your shopping bags to keep them out of sight.
This comes with a safety bonus too! Keeping a blanket in the car is just smart winter driving safety, since you'll have it if you slide off the road and need to wait with your vehicle.
Swap Your Poinsettia for a Christmas Cactus
Poinsettias are gorgeous during the holidays, and before I had kids and cats, I used to have several in the house every Christmas. The problem is, these holiday flowers are actually poisonous, so that's not awesome if you have creatures around that randomly eat your plants.
Swap out your poinsettia for a Christmas cactus, and you'll be in a much safer spot. While no one should eat a meal of it, a Christmas cactus is a non-poisonous alternative and still looks festive and pretty.
Poinsettias aren't the only poisonous holiday plants. Mistletoe, ivy, holly berries, and amaryllis are all toxic to animals or people, so it's better to go with a safer option where you can.
Don't Multi-Task When Cooking Meat
If you're like us, multi-tasking makes it possible for you to do all the things all the time. We've trained ourselves to do at least three things at once, but when it comes to cooking the roast beast for your Christmas dinner, it's safer to just do that one thing.
Whether you're making a Christmas turkey, duck, goose, ham, or any other kind of meat, it's important to keep anything that touches the meat from touching the other foods you're cooking. The easiest way to do that is to prep the meat and then clean your work space for doing other dishes. We get it if it goes against your need to be efficient, but it's a good way to keep everyone safe at Christmas dinner.
Check the Age Limit on Toys and Gifts
If you're buying a gift for a kid in your family, take a minute to check the age limits printed on the package. That "not for children under three years" is there to help people who don't have small children buy gifts for small children. It's not guarantee that the kid will love it, but it is a guideline to tell you whether it's safe.
While we love thrifting, buying a toy at a thrift store isn't usually a great plan unless you're the parent. Because there's no package, it's harder to tell whether the toy is right for the kid's age. Plus, there might have been recalls that affected the toy.
Offer Mocktails as an Option at Your Christmas Party
Rocking around the Christmas tree tends to come with its fair share of amazing holiday cocktails, and we have no problem with that. It can be a challenge for people to keep their drinking moderated, though, if they're party-hopping during this busy season. That can lead to drinking and driving.
Our favorite Christmas safety tip for hosting parties is having some delicious Christmas mocktails on offer. This gives guests an alternative to the alcoholic punch that's way more exciting than soda.
Get an Early Start for Your Holiday Road Trip
If you're going to need to go over the river and through the woods to get to grandmother's house this Christmas, one really good safety hack is getting an early start. We don't love getting kids in the car early, but starting early is actually a lot safer for everyone.
It gets dark really early during the Christmas season. If you've got a long drive, that means driving in the dark when you're already tired from a day of travel. It's safer to get an early start on your trip. Even if you have to drive before it's light out in the morning, you won't be as tired.
Skip the Clamshell Packages for Gifts
You know those toys or gadgets that come packaged in plastic clamshells? They're maddening to try to open, and they actually present a safety hazard, too. When you can, it's just way safer (and less frustrating) to skip them.
If you do get something in a plastic clamshell package, be really careful opening it. You can use a can opener or tin snips to get into it more safely than using scissors or a knife, and there are even gadgets made specifically for this. Never let kids try to open these.
Staying Safe Can Help You Enjoy the Season
Staying safe during the holiday season doesn't have to add to your stress. In fact, these Christmas safety tips can actually make your holiday more relaxing. If you don't have to worry about safety hazards as much, you can get into the spirit of the season and enjoy yourself just that much more.