Mistletoe
Photo by Oleksandr Rybitskiy/Shutterstock.com

Your guide to decorating with greenery this holiday season

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When the weather outside is frightful, nothing quite brightens up the indoors like festive centrepieces, wreaths, and decorations. Here’s what to look for when decking the halls this holiday season:

Selecting a Christmas tree

While Christmas trees are indisputably the decorative centrepieces of any home, not all trees are created equal (just ask Charlie Brown). Here’s how to find the perfect tree:

  • Needs minimal maintenance: You’ve already got enough to do during the holiday season—tending to a tree shouldn’t be on that list. If needle cleanup is one of your pet peeves, then you’ll want to get a scotch pine, which owes its popularity partially to its ability to hold its needles.
  • Smells like Christmas: It’s the one quality artificial trees will never be able to replicate—a smell that takes you back to childhood. If you’re looking for a fragrant tree, opt for a balsam fir or white spruce. However, the latter will need lots of water and will lose its needles over the holidays.
  • Can hold the heaviest of ornaments: Found in the interior of BC, the sturdy branches of the Douglas fir will display all your favourite keepsakes with ease.
  • Keeps Christmas classy: If you’re a minimalist when it comes to decorations and are looking for an elegant option, you’ll love the long delicate needles of the white pine. It’s also a great option for boughs with which to decorate your mantle.

Caring for your Christmas Tree

Regardless of the type of tree you choose, buying a live tree means potentially bringing bugs, spiders, and mites into your home. Research has shown that Christmas trees are also responsible for over 50 types of mould spores in the household, which may trigger asthma attacks or result in flu-like symptoms in allergy sufferers. Before bringing your tree into your home, leave it in your garage for a few days, and shake the branches to dislodge any pests. (However, don’t use insect sprays, as they are highly flammable.) To kill any mould, spray the branches with a mild bleach solution. Once set-up indoors, be sure to give your tree fresh water daily to prevent needle loss.

Other Decorative Greenery

‘Tis the season for making wreaths and adorning your mantle. Here are three of the most popular holiday plants to consider incorporating into your décor:

  • With its glossy green leaves and red berries, holly has become synonymous with Yuletide. The Druids believed it provided protection against evil spirits, and later the Christians adopted it as a symbol of the season. However, while sprigs of holly liven up wreaths and centrepieces, the berries can cause vomiting and diarrhea—so be sure to keep this plant well out of the reach of children, pets, and maybe even those guests who have indulged in a little too much rum and eggnog.
  • For a plant that we associate with holiday romance, mistletoe has had a storied history. Originally, the Druids used it in a ceremony in which animals and humans were sacrificed. (If you want to avoid kissing someone, sharing this fact is a surefire way to subdue the situation.) However, mistletoe has overcome its past and is now a symbol of love, peace and goodwill, making it popular for use in boughs and wreaths. However, like holly, make sure to hang it well above kissing height—mistletoe’s white berries are poisonous.
  • Poinsettias have been associated with the Christmas season for 400 years, when, according to a legend, a young girl in Mexico—where the plants are indigenous—gathered them from a roadside to place on a church altar. The potted plants have a reputation for being highly poisonous, but it’s largely unwarranted. While they may cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested by pets, their toxicity is actually relatively mild and treatment is rarely necessary.

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