1. Christmas Trees- Personally, cutting down a living tree so I can use it for a couple of weeks goes against my conscience. If you buy a once-living tree, you can also be exposing yourself to the pesticides commonly used in the industry. Do not spray your tree once inside. There are organic tree farms in some areas.
The real vs. fake tree debate goes on amongst the greener people. I opt for no tree and light up everything that isn’t nailed down with colorful Christmas lights and play music to create ambiance.
2. Insects- Remember live trees can be home to insects. Here is an article with tips on how to prevent problems. A few years ago, acorns shipped from India were recalled because they were infested with beetles. That story has stuck with me and although natural ornaments is a nice idea, I’d rather leave the acorns to plant their seeds where their mother trees grew! It’s another way for invasive species to hitch a ride and something that we consumers shouldn’t encourage. Besides, taking the kiddies out to collect pine cones is a great teaching opportunity.
3. Fire- All candles emit soot. Scented candles are a documented source of indoor pollution. Avoid. Fire places, even gas ones, can cause headaches for sensitive individuals. Ventilate properly or keep off entirely. The asthmatics in the crowd will be grateful.
4. Scented Ornaments and Holiday Air Poisoners – Avoid. Even the “natural” scents in products can be lung irritants, allergens or migraine-inducers. Instead, bake something or boil spices in water on the stove. Or leave out some coffee grounds in a shallow dish. Seriously, I’d rather smell roasting turkey than fake cinnamon bathroom air poisoner. Spare the air and let people enjoy the delish smells of their meals without competition.
5. Presents- Check ingredients. Consumer Reports gives great tips here. Don’t be fooled by greenwashing.
6. Food- Check if your guests have any food allergies or sensitivities. Offer some alternatives that they can eat without ill effect. Instead of just sweets and baking, put out healthier options for guests to nibble on, too. The diabetics will love you. If a child has a peanut allergy, be extra careful reading ingredients so as not to serve anything with peanuts. His or her parents shouldn’t trust you 100%, as mistakes can be made, but they can relax a bit more knowing you’ve tried. And chances are, they have brought the child their own food. Don’t take offense.
7. Going Visiting? Come clean and unscented. Leave the perfume/cologne you got in its bottle. Other guests may be sensitive and require days to recover, ruining their holidays.
8. Smoker? Go outside to smoke. Yes, even in the frigid air.
9. Pets? Keep pets in another room so allergic individuals can have some relief.
10. Alcohol- Drink responsibly and don’t push alcohol on your guests. Provide alternatives to alcohol and shut down the bar long before the end of the evening.
Entertaining or being a guest these days is hard enough, due to busy schedules. It’s nice when people take the time to try to accommodate the health needs of guests. They live with their conditions every day and are required to change their lifestyles. Most don’t expect the world to accommodate them but some have such horrid reactions, they may require it in order to attend. Making a bit of effort to be inclusive and understanding is the best present one can give, isn’t it?
Do you have any tips on having healthier holidays? Feel free to add in comments. Thanks!