‘Tis the season to deck the halls and spruce up your home with holiday décor. Avoid injuries and unexpected hospital visits by taking proper safety precautions while decorating.

Your Health | 6 months ago

Tips to Decorate Safely this Holiday Season

‘Tis the season to deck the halls and spruce up your home with holiday décor. Avoid injuries and unexpected hospital visits by taking proper safety precautions while decorating.

Ah, the holiday season – the most festive time of the year! For many, that includes stockings on the mantel, lights on the house, ornaments on the tree, and even garland on the banister. Atrium Health reminds you to take proper safety precautions when decorating for the holidays. Here, Dr. Kevin Weiss, an orthopedic surgeon with Atrium Health Musculoskeletal Institute, and Steve Ramsey, emergency management and physical environment manager for Atrium Health Navicent share tips to ensure you and your family avoid unexpected illness and injury this holiday season.

“People really love decorating and tend to go all out on the holidays and decorating can be very physically strenuous,” says Dr. Weiss. “Many times people spend all day putting up decorations and are being more physically active than they normally are.”

Any time you engage in physical activity – which yes, includes decorating – you should think about your muscles and joints. It’s important to stay hydrated, take breaks. If tired, stretch before and after, and ice if something is sore when done. Don’t try to get everything done at once - this can lead to increased injury risk. Here are a few recommendations based on common holiday decorations:


  • Always exercise caution when using lit candles in your holiday celebrations or decorations. Consider using battery-operated candles instead.
  • Candles should be placed away from walls, curtains, or flammable materials.
  • Lit candles should be monitored at all times.
  • Ensure the candle is completely extinguished after use.


  • Handle holiday lights with care, checking sockets, wiring, and bulbs before use.
  • Do not use electric lights on metallic trees.
  • Turn off all lights and other lit decorations when going to bed or before you leave the house.
  • Stringing lights from a ladder takes patience and balance. Always have a helper or two to balance the ladder and assist as needed.

“Falls are definitely a big culprit for injuries and ladders play a role in that,” says Dr. Weiss. “Many people get on ladders for decorating and that can be risky. Make sure you have someone with you to spot you. Also make sure you wear proper supportive shoe wear to support your foot and ankle.  Falls can cause a wide variety of injuries and many times may require surgical intervention to fix.”


  • Avoid glass ornaments and look for shatter-proof options.
  • Place trees away from fireplaces, radiators, and other heat sources. Place trees out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Keep ornaments out of reach for small children and pets, as they could pose a choking hazard.
  • Holiday plants are pretty but can be deadly. Mistletoe, poinsettia, and holly berries are all toxic if ingested. Keep them out of the reach of small children and pets.
  • When decorating outside, make sure decorations are labeled as safe for outdoor use.
  • When lifting it’s important to bend at the knees and not the waist. That takes pressure off the back and allows you to use your legs to assist.

“Taking extra safety precautions is worth the time and effort to ensure you and your family are able to remain at home and safe to celebrate the season with your loved ones,” says Ramsey.

Anytime you feel pain that you don’t normally feel, that isn’t improving or is out of the ordinary, it’s appropriate to seek appropriate care. If an accident or injury occurs, seek appropriate medical treatment. 

Non-life-threatening injuries can be treated at an urgent care facility near you or through virtual care options such as video visits and eVisits. For emergency situations, call 911 or seek care at the nearest emergency room. Visit online to explore care options available at Atrium Health and to find care near you.