How to Safely Put Up a Christmas Tree
Christmas tree

When holiday music hits the radio stations and shopping centers, it officially marks that time of the year when everything gets a little more sparkly and cheerful. Between bows, ribbons, snowflakes, and garlands, our indoor spaces become overrun with all things festive. One crucial aspect of this decorating extravaganza? The Christmas tree!

Whether you’re a real or fake tree enthusiast, these evergreens will feature as decor items in millions of homes across the country. One thing to consider, though, is if these twinkling trees are supporting your awakened space.

While ensuring that your Christmas tree supports your wellness may not be on your holiday list, it should be! These trees have the potential to throw a wrench in your healthy living plan by introducing a long list of indoor contaminants.

But fear not! There are steps you can take to make sure that this list of contaminants does not hinder your holiday success. By simply being conscious of things you can do to support your health while you’re bringing it into your home, you’ll be well on your way to an awakened holiday space.

Here’s what you need to know to create a safer environment, depending on which tree type you opt for.

Real Christmas Trees

These trees are more environmentally friendly than their artificial counterparts, but they do not come without issues.

Real trees can bring pesticides, herbicides, pollen, sap, and mold spores into the home. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find a tree that hasn’t been sprayed with a ton of pesticides. That’s why it’s important to ask the farmer before buying what’s been used on the tree.

A couple of steps to avoid any unhealthy mishaps include:

  • Hose down the tree outside using a white vinegar disinfectant solution and let it air dry before bringing it into the home:
  • Rinsing it off will reduce the number of things it can introduce into the home, such as mold spores and pollen.
  • Buy organic trees: Farmers who grow organic trees do not use toxic pesticides on their trees, helping you avoid bringing them into your home.
  • Run an air purifier in your home near the tree: Because a real tree can introduce microscopic particles such as mold spores and pollen, actively working to eliminate these is an important part of keeping an awakened space during the holidays.
  • Clean often: Using a microfiber towel and botanical cleaning products, wipe down the space surrounding the tree frequently to eliminate any microscopic particles present. Also, make sure to dust the room with a microfiber towel. Again, this will lower the particles introduced by the tree that likes to hang out in our dust.
  • Opt for a smaller tree and only keep it in the house for 4–7 days: The longer you keep the tree inside, the more likely it is that mold will grow. Lessening the time the tree is inside the home reduces the opportunity for indoor contaminants to be introduced.

Collectively, these steps will help you enjoy your tree this year.

That being said, for anyone with a mold allergy or suffering from mold toxicity, it’s best not to opt for a real tree because of its propensity for mold. This will ensure that you’re not exposed to contaminants and avoid feeling unwell during the holiday season. No one wants to deal with that!

Artificial Christmas Trees

Artificial trees have their benefits, but they also come with their own unique drawbacks.

These varieties can contain toxins like PVC (some have replaced PVC with PET and PEVA, but that’s still not great), lead, phthalates, flame retardants, and other chemicals. These chemicals can off-gas as VOCs and SVOCs over time, resulting in polluted air quality. They can also land in our dust, where we will ingest or absorb them through the skin, which can lead to issues such as endocrine disruption.

Follow these steps to help ensure your artificial tree is top-notch:

  • Purchase a PVC, Polyethylene, and flame-retardant tree: Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to find a toxic-free artificial tree, so be vigilant in your quest for a healthy option. Ikea has a couple of close options.
  • Wipe and clean the tree before putting it up: This will remove any dust present, which can harbor harmful contaminants.
  • Run an air purifier while it’s up: An air purifier can help reduce the amount of off-gassing entering the home as well as any microscopic particles.
  • Clean frequently: This will also help minimize the SVOCs in the home that could be present in the dust.
  • Wash your hands after handling the tree: Cleaning your hands will help avoid any potential toxins from absorbing into your body.
  • Do not store trees in paper boxes that will collect dust and run the risk of becoming moldy if the humidity elevates throughout the year.

Older trees are less likely to off-gas, but it’s still a good idea to follow the steps above just to be on the safe side.

Christmas Tree Alternatives

For those who are chemically sensitive, Christmas trees (fake or real) may not be the best bet for your healthy home plan. That’s okay! There are several alternatives you can use to bring festive cheer into your awakened space.

Plus, they offer a unique take on a time-tested classic. Just throw on your favorite lights and decor to make them your personalized brand of happiness.

A few options to consider include:

  • Handcrafted wooden tree
  • A flat piece of wood that’s sealed and cut out in the shape of a tree
  • Books stacked in the shape of a tree
  • An outside tree that’s decorated to the max
  • A ladder with string lights wrapped around
  • Floating ornaments string up from the ceiling in varying lengths to look like a tree
  • The wall (string lights and ornaments directly on the wall in the shape of a tree)
  • Wrapped boxes and layered to look like a real tree
  • Cardboard cut out in the shape of a tree and painted your favorite festive color

Bonus tip: If you search “wood Christmas trees” on Etsy, you can find all sorts of options!

Happy Holidays!

Remember, don’t be afraid of your Christmas tree! The more conscious we are, the more steps we can take to eliminate bringing toxins into our homes. Stress is the worst thing we can do for our health, though, so if trying to accomplish all of this is just putting unneeded stress on your system, just know this isn’t the end of the world. If your Christmas tree brings you joy (real or fake) that is going to serve your health as well!

A healthy indoor space that promotes your wellness is what it’s all about, especially during the holidays. That way, you can focus on what’s important: spending time with your loved ones and enjoying the fun, festive activities that only come this time of year.

Ashley Realm

Ashley · @AwakeningSpaces

Awakening Spaces is a full service interior design and consulting firm that support health conscious individuals and those who have been impacted by mold, chemicals, and EMFs create safe nurturing spaces.

Whether you’re renovating, building new, or looking to improve your existing space, we’re here to help you navigate the massive project you’re taking on by looking at your environment holistically and outlining the steps you need to take so that you can feel confident that your home is supporting your health and you can get back to your life.

Awakening Spaces in your inbox!

Sign-up to receive our monthly newsletter where we share resources and tips for the health conscious homeowner (or renter!).