What you need to know

  • Christmas decorations are fun and festive - but they can also be dangerous for our tamariki
  • Christmas trees, ornaments and lights can present a hazard
  • This article has tips for decorating safely at Christmas.

Christmas tree safety tips

Christmas trees are a beautiful and exciting addition to your home during the holiday season. For our tamariki the bright colours, shiny decorations dangling from its branches and glowing lights can be an irresistible temptation for little fingers (and mouths).

  • Make sure the tree is at least one metre away from any heat sources, like fireplaces and heaters
  • Make sure the tree isn’t blocking an exit
  • Stabilise the tree so it can’t be knocked over. You could tie some fishing line to the top of the tree and secure it to something sturdy close by, like a curtain rail, or even a discreet screw behind the curtain.
  • If the tree is placed up high, make sure it’s secured and on a surface that can’t be tipped or pushed over
  • Make a barrier around the tree so small children can't reach it. Ideas include:
    • a repurposed safety gate
    • putting the tree inside a play pen
    • indoor fencing
    • using sturdy boxes covered in Christmas wrap

Choosing safe Christmas decorations

When choosing Christmas decorations, avoid anything sharp or breakable, and anything with small removable parts that could be a choking hazard.

If a Christmas ornament can fit inside a toilet roll, then it's not safe to have around small children.

  • Check ball and other decorations is the ‘hook’ securely fastened or could a child remove it and swallow it?
  • Strings or ribbons are a safer option to hang decorations than metal or plastic hooks
  • Skip the tinsel, or ornaments joined together on a string – they can be a choking hazard
  • Avoid decorations that look like food, as children may be tempted to try and eat them and they could be dangerous
  • If you do hang food items such as candy canes on the tree, keep these out of reach (and ideally out of sight if you can, tamariki may climb to reach them). These are often covered with plastic wrapping and could be a choking hazard.
  • You can hang safe but noisy bell ornaments on branches all around the tree, to alert you when your child is busy playing with the tree.

Christmas lights

If you do choose to use Christmas lights:

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use
  • Check lights for any worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections if there is any damage then don’t use them
  • Make sure lights are securely attached to the tree and there is no chance the child could get caught in the wires
  • LED bulbs are cooler, so less likely to cause burns if they are touched
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before going to bed or leaving the house

Other safe Christmas ideas

  • A mini Christmas tree: take away some of the temptation by giving your tamariki a mini version. Use a small branch from a tree and help them make some paper decorations so they can decorate their own tree.
  • Let children touch - but make some rules. Tamariki can touch anything on the tree that they like, but only with one finger. This usually satisfies their curiosity.
  • Notice when your child is 'looking but not touching' and give lots of praise.