The stockings are hung by the chimney with care…and the Christmas tree is safely placed three feet away from the fireplace. OK, that might not be how the old Christmas poem goes. But it’s a good tip to keep in mind! Read on for more Christmas safety tips to keep your loved ones safe this holiday season.
1. Replace Old Lights and Use Them Correctly
The lights bring holiday cheer for sure, but they can be a safety hazard. Use indoor lights indoors and outdoor lights outdoors, and always turn them off when leaving the house or going to bed. Be sure to replace light sets that have broken sockets or frayed wires.
Psst! Check out these charming (and safe) Christmas lights cookies.
2. Be Mindful of Poisonous Plants
Eating mistletoe is actually toxic. Keep it away from pets, along with other potentially poisonous plants like holly berries, Jerusalem cherry and amaryllis. Don’t miss our checklist to help “pet proof” your house for the holidays.
3. Practice Car Safety When Traveling
It’s always important to drive safely, but the Christmas travel season can be especially dangerous. Have your car serviced before leaving on a road trip, carry an emergency kit and give yourself extra time to avoid rushing. Remember to decrease your speed if you’re driving in snow or ice, and wait for snowplows and sanding trucks to clear the roadways before starting your journey.
Here’s how to keep your dog safe and comfortable in the back seat.
4. Watch Out for Online Shopping Fraud
Unfortunately, the holiday shopping season is fraught with fraud. While you shop, carefully check that the website address is spelled correctly—fraudulent websites with similar spelling can trick you into giving away your credit card information. When checking out, be sure the payment page address begins with “https” (the “s” stands for “secure”). And as always, never click a link from an unsolicited email.
5. Don’t Make the Tree a Fire Hazard
To avoid the same fate as Clark Griswold’s tree in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, be aware of fire safety. Have the tree vendor cut off about 2″ of the trunk to expose fresh wood for better water absorption, and make sure there’s always water in the tree stand. Keep your tree at least three feet away from radiators or fireplaces. And if you buy an artificial tree, check that it’s labeled “fire resistant.”
Find more helpful hints for taking care of a real Christmas tree.
6. Properly Secure the Tree
No one wants Santa to get squished by a fallen Christmas tree. Make sure your tree is properly secured with a strong stand that doesn’t lean. If you have a fresh tree, don’t whittle or taper the trunk to fit your stand; this makes the tree less stable.
7. Don’t Burn Wrapping Paper in the Fireplace
Sure, a crackling fire in the fireplace is a must-have for cozy holiday events. Just avoid any fire accidents by practicing proper fireplace safety. Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper; and always use a fireplace screen.
8. Keep the Raw Turkey Away From the Salad
One thing is for sure, nothing will ruin your Christmas dinner faster than guests coming down with food poisoning. Handle food safely with these simple reminders: keep raw meat away from fresh produce, wash your hands frequently, use a meat thermometer and use separate cutting boards for cooked and uncooked meats. See the food safety mistakes we’re all making.
9. Be Careful with Candles
The top three days for home fires started by candles are Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. To avoid a disaster, keep candles at least a foot away from anything flammable. Make sure candles are in stable holders that can’t be easily knocked down, and never leave burning candles unattended.
10. Hang Breakable Ornaments up High
Those colorful and shiny vintage ornaments are just too tempting for little ones! Instead, hang breakable ornaments at top of the tree. That way, kids can get in on the decorating fun without the worry of broken glass.
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After cutting your own Christmas tree, come home to a hot beverage and a plate of these cute new Christmas cookies. Too intimidated to make all the lumberjack shapes? Choose a few and have fun! —Josh Rink, Taste of Home Food Stylist Go to Recipe
Double-Dutch Chocolate Holiday Cookies
Rich dark chocolate and crunchy, colorful M&M’s combine to make these cookies extra special. Who wouldn’t want to receive this mix as a gift? —Taste of Home Test Kitchen, Milwaukee, WisconsinGo to Recipe
Cranberry Spritz Cookies
Here’s a sure standout on your treat tray. The cheery cookies get their bright-pink color from cranberry-flavored gelatin.Go to Recipe
Gluten-Free Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
These gluten-free chocolate crinkle cookies are a family favorite. The ground almonds make them even better. —Karen Kelly, Germantown, MarylandGo to Recipe
Lemon Pistachio Wreaths
I have made these fun and festive wreaths for the past few years. Zest from the lemon and crunch from the pistachios create a hard-to-resist sweet.Go to Recipe
Hawaiian Wedding Cake Cookies
Macadamia nuts and pineapple help give this Hawaiian cookie recipe its tropical name. —Darlene Brenden, Salem, OregonGo to Recipe
Horn Walnut Cookies
It takes only a few ingredients to create these elegant and delicious horns. This is a terrific make-ahead recipe because the dough can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to seven days. —Loretta Stokes, Philadephia, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
Your children can help decorate these cute Christmas cookies. It’s a great way to get them involved in the kitchen. —Taste of Home Test KitchenGo to Recipe
These buttery, smooth caramel tassies make a nice addition to a dessert tray. These are one of my family’s favorites. —Jane Bricker, Scottdale, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
Pistachio Brown Butter Cookies
These pistachio brown butter cookies are a simple showstopper! They literally melt in your mouth. You can find the shelled, salted pistachios at the store. —Stephanie Sutphin, Radford, VirginiaGo to Recipe
Cherry Icebox Cookies
As a home economics teacher, I often supplied treats for school functions. These delectable cookies were always popular.Go to Recipe
I knew I’d hit a winner with these crisp and simple angel wings when my sister first sampled them. After one taste, she was so impressed she asked me to bake her wedding cake! —R. Lane, Tenafly, New JerseyGo to Recipe
Double-Chocolate Rolo Cookies with Pretzels
These chocolate Rolo cookies were a big hit with my father. The generous size makes them wonderful for gift-giving, and they’re always the first to go at parties. —Melissa Keenan, Larchmont, New YorkGo to Recipe
Lace Cookies with Chocolate Middles
Melted chocolate sandwiched between two golden and slightly crisp oatmeal cookies makes for a delicious spin on traditional oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.Go to Recipe
White Chocolate-Cranberry Biscotti
The original version of this recipe was handed down from my great-aunt. Through the years, my mother and I have tried different flavor combinations…this is a favorite for all. —Brenda Keith, Talent, OregonGo to Recipe
Orange Gingerbread Tassies
I make big Christmas cookie plates every year and it’s fun to have something with a different shape to include. These have a delicious flavor with the gingerbread and orange, and they are really easy! This is also yummy with lemon zest if you prefer that over the orange. You can also decorate with some candied orange peel if you have it.
—Elisabeth Larsen, Pleasant Grove, UTGo to Recipe
Rosemary Shortbread Christmas Tree Cookies
These lovely treats are a traditional part of our Christmas cookie platter. Because the scent of rosemary and the shape of its leaves remind me of pine needles, I cut these using a Christmas tree-shaped cookie cutter. They are fragile, so handle the dough and baked cookies carefully. —Amy Bartlett, Depew, New YorkGo to Recipe
I took a classic holiday cookie and made it gluten-free. It’s now my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie. They’re so buttery, nutty and sweet—and everyone loves how they crumble in your mouth.
—Joan Sarge, Asheville, North CarolinaGo to Recipe
Butter Pecan Cookies
When my daughter was a teen, these butter pecan cookies earned her two blue ribbons from two county fairs. A few years ago, her own daughter took home a blue ribbon for the same cookie. Needless to say, these mouthwatering morsels are real winners! —Martha Thefield, Cedartown, GeorgiaGo to Recipe
Slice ‘n’ Bake Fruitcake Cookies
A cross between classic fruitcake and buttery cookies, these treats are perfect for Christmas. Each one is chock-full of raisins and candied cherries.Go to Recipe
Salted Brown Sugar and Rye Chocolate Chip Cookies
These bakery-style cookies are a delicious twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie! The combination of rye flour, chocolate and brown sugar makes these cookies truly unique. They’re soft and chewy with crunchy edges, perfectly salty-sweet and loaded with just the right amount of chocolate. —Julie Peterson, Crofton, MarylandGo to Recipe
White Chocolate Star Sandwich Cookies
These dazzling sandwich cookies are sure to be the star of your holiday dessert tray. A rich mixture of white chocolate and cream cheese forms the sweet yet simple filling.Go to Recipe
After sampling these tender cookies in a specialty store, I knew I had to duplicate them. My version has lots of toffee bits and butterscotch chips. I’ve given away dozens as home-baked gifts. —Sandra McKenzie, Braham, MNGo to Recipe
These Czech Christmas cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The batter is prepared on the stovetop, then cooled and baked. The original recipe calls for nuts and candied orange zest, but any dried fruit or combination of dried fruits can be used in place of the orange zest. —Cyndee Sindelar, Princeton, New JerseyGo to Recipe
Chinese Almond Cookies
Each Christmas, my mother baked these Chinese almond cookies and stored them in clean coffee cans. When she passed away, I started giving our kids a can of these sentimental sweets. (Traditional Chinese almond cookies typically use lard, but butter is a great substitute if you don’t have lard on hand.) —Jane Garing, Talladega, AlabamaGo to Recipe
Easy Reindeer Cookies
One year my son wanted to buy everyone in his class a present. I suggested we bake them a treat instead. We made these festive cookies using a cookie mix, pretzels, chocolate chips and Red M&M’s. —Gretchen Vandenberghe, Toledo, OhioGo to Recipe
Sugared Date Balls
When I was a youngster, Mom always baked these tender old-fashioned cookies dotted with chewy dates and crunchy walnuts. Much to the delight of my family, I’ve continued her delicious tradition.Go to Recipe
On my first trip to Great Britain, I stumbled upon these cookies (or biscuits, as they’re known in the U.K.). These iconic treats, sold as Jammie Dodgers, can be found everywhere over there. Since I couldn’t find them in the States, I had to make my own version. —James Schend, Taste of Home Deputy Editor, CulinaryGo to Recipe
Swedish Spice Cutouts
My sister, Judith Landgren of White Sulphur Springs, Montana, brought this recipe with her when she came to the United States from Sweden in 1928.Go to Recipe
Chocolate Rum Balls
Roll these truffle-like rum balls in crushed Oreos to get just the right amount of crunch. They can be made three days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. I also tuck some in the freezer!Go to Recipe
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cookies
My mother-in-law was known for her chocolate and peanut butter cookies, and her special Sunday dinners. She always enjoyed baking and even worked in a bakery to help put her sons through college. Her cookies were always picture-perfect. —Cathy Pawlowski, Naperville, IllinoisGo to Recipe
Ginger Poppy Seed Cookies
Poppy seed and ginger pair up nicely in these popular treats. The refrigerated dough slices easily and bakes quickly.Go to Recipe
Chocolate-Dipped Triple-Ginger Cookies
My mother always enjoyed chocolate-covered ginger, so she decided to turn her favorite treat into a cookie. In retrospect, the cookie is an expression of her own character, which is unforgettable and always delightful.—Bethany Hammond, Vancouver, WashingtonGo to Recipe
Swedish Butter Cookies
It’s impossible to eat just one of these Swedish cookies. Naturally, they’re a favorite with my Swedish husband and children—but anyone with a sweet tooth will appreciate this treat. My recipe is “well-traveled” among our friends and neighbors. —Sue Soderland, Elgin, IllinoisGo to Recipe
Old-Fashioned Whoopie Pies
Who can resist soft chocolate sandwich cookies filled with a layer of fluffy white frosting? Mom has made these for years. They’re a treat that never lasts very long with me and my two brothers around. —Maria Costello, Monroe, North CarolinaGo to Recipe
Mexican Wedding Cakes
As part of a Mexican tradition, I tucked these tender cookies into small gift boxes for the guests at my sister’s wedding a few years ago. Most folks gobbled them up before they ever got home! —Sarita Johnston, San Antonio, TexasGo to Recipe
Easy Mint Thins
My friends often try to guess the ingredients, but I never tell them how simple they are to make. They taste just like the Girl Scout cookie, and they’re perfect for Christmas and bake sales. —Jennifer Setser, Morgantown, IndianaGo to Recipe
Berry Shortbread Dreams
Raspberry jam adds fruity sweetness to these rich raspberry-filled shortbread cookies. They will absolutely melt in your mouth! —Mildred Sherrer, Fort Worth, TexasGo to Recipe
White Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies
This is a cookie you will want to make again and again. I like to take it to church get-togethers and family reunions. It’s very delicious…crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
-Denise DeJong, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaGo to Recipe
This wonderful pistachio cookie recipe is fun to make and everyone will be impressed with how pretty the green coloring is. They’re one of my favorite holiday cookies. —Pat Habiger, Spearville, KansasGo to Recipe
Crunchy Apricot-Coconut Balls
My Mom gave me this no-bake cookie recipe years ago when she had them on her Christmas buffet. I can’t believe how simple they are to make.—Jane McMillan, Dania Beach, FloridaGo to Recipe ⓘ