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Allergy and asthma friendly holiday decorating: Trees, plants, and "alive things"

Allergy and Asthma Friendly Holiday Decorating: Trees, Plants, and “Alive Things”

It’s that time of year! The Christmas carols have been piping out of the TV since November 12th up here in Canada (I think with Thanksgiving, Americans get a bit of a reprieve until a more sane point in November?!). People in my neighborhood have been hanging up and switching on their Christmas lights for weeks already, and—ready or not—the holiday season is upon us!

Living with asthma and allergies, you might find more triggers in your environment over the holiday season. Here are some triggers to keep an eye out for—and re-evaluate if they’re part of your box of decorations! Today we’ll look at allergic triggers that can find their way into your home during the Christmas season!

Christmas trees

Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree… If you’re wheezing and sneezing, you may not get too far into this song! Christmas trees can carry molds that can trigger allergy symptoms 1, but also, they may carry in pollens from other plants like weeds and grasses. 2 Given studies as far back as 1970 document allergens within Christmas trees and their potential to cause both immediate and delayed allergic reactions up to 24 hours later, it’s surprising we don’t hear more about Christmas tree allergy around the holidays! 2 Chemicals used to treat or preserve trees can also be airway irritants. 3

Allergy friendly alternative: Use an artificial tree, dust it regularly, and give it a bath before you put it up to get rid of dust! (Seriously, where else are you going to wash a Christmas tree?)

Wreaths

“Real wreaths” may not be as common a phrase as “real trees”, but they do pose many of the same issues stated above!

Allergy friendly alternative: Check out some of these fun, DIY, asthma friendly (no plants involved) wreaths! (I chose the easiest looking ones because I am not crafty!)

  • The honeycomb wreath using mailing and gift wrap tubes, wrapping paper, hot glue, and some ornaments! (And it doesn’t even look like a kids craft, score!)
  • This holiday cookie cutter wreath is super cute, even without the sprigs of real tree (or fake tree) as accents!
  • The DIY ornament wreath is my favourite of them all! It’s bright and colorful and while it involves a wreath frame (whatever that is, you crafty people!), you just glue things to other things and VIOLA, a super pretty wreath!

There are tons and tons of DIY wreaths out online, these are just 3 of the first 20 I looked at—any of these wreaths that don’t involve alive or previously alive plants are likely to be allergy friendly (though of course balloon wreaths will not work if you have a latex allergy!),

Poinsettias and Plants

Poinsettias are a Christmas staple, and plants or flowers may appear as holiday host gifts. Consider re-gifting any such gifts you might be allergic to and share the joy! If you must keep them (like in the case your mother-in-law is going to ask where they went!), use them to brighten an area that you don’t spend much time in.

Allergy friendly alternative. We were at IKEA this past weekend and if you have an IKEA nearby, go check out their cute little teeny tiny fake poinsettias. They’re freaking adorable and have the bonus of being fake but looking real. (They may have big fake poinsettias also but I did not spy any, however, I wasn’t looking).
Also, once I bought a fake plant from IKEA for my mom and she went to water it the next day—so yes, many look quite real. Good thing she checked to see if the soil was damp!

Candy, food + baking

It may be a good time to start an email chain with your family and friends before you share your holiday meal, reminding them of your food allergies and confirming allergies of others! This will allow for attendees to adjust any food items they are bringing to keep everyone safe.

Allergy friendly alternative: Ensure you bring a safe dish or two that you know you can enjoy!

Dust

Anything and everything can accumulate dust, so check out decorations for materials that will be easy to wipe down, wash or dust regularly!

Allergy friendly holidays: Check

With a few smallish tweaks, you can ensure your holidays are allergy friendly, both in terms of what’s in the air and what you’re eating. Keeping medications handy is also important—just in case!

How do you keep your holidays free of your allergens?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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