Safe Holiday Decorating Tips

It’s the time of year to “deck the halls,” but as you prepare your home for festivities and fun, make sure you take precautions to decorate safely. Here are some holiday decorating tips to help keep your home and family safe!


  • How old are your lights? Check your strands to make sure they are UL-approved with safety features like fused plugs to prevent sparks.
  • Even in storage, holiday lights can suffer damage. Check your light strings for frayed or cracked cords, loose connections, or broken sockets. If you need to change a bulb, unplug the lights first.
  • Light strings are intended to be strung together, but a good rule of thumb is to connect no more than three strands at any time.
  • Use a single, long extension cord rather than connecting multiple, shorter cords together. They can create a fire hazard.
  • Make sure all of your light strings and cords have some slack, but not so much they can cause tripping or tangling.
  • Holiday lights are designed for safety, but can still be a potential fire hazard, so make sure yours are turned off whenever you leave the house or go to bed. A WiFi light switch or outlet connector can help you automate lights through your smartphone or a home automation hub for less hassle.


  • If you have a live Christmas tree, choose a freshly cut one. If it’s been longer than 12 hours, recut the base to make sure the tree can absorb water properly. The Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences has a great resource site for live tree care.
  • Water your tree daily! Dry trees catch fire very easily and burn much faster than regularly watered ones, as demonstrated in this video from the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Keep trees at least three feet from any heat source, including fireplaces, space heaters, heat vents, candles, etc.

Other Decorations

  • If you have young children or pets in the house, keep any glass or fragile ornaments up out of reach.
  • Decorations with “angel hair” (created from spun glass) can cause irritations to the skin and eyes and should be handled with gloves, if possible.
  • Holiday plants make lovely decorations, but some should be kept out of reach of children and pets. Poinsettias, holly berries, and mistletoe berries