The best advice is to keep an eye on your decorative plants, as well as your kids and pets. Keep the plants out of reach, and clean up any dropped berries or leaves.

If you do go with plants as Christmas gifts, be sure to pay close attention to our next selection ...

Christmas poinsettia plant

Freezing your holiday gift plants

A popular gift for the holidays are live plants. Poinsettias and Christmas cactus are the most common, but even cut flowers add to the beauty of the season.

One problem with holiday plants is that they are very sensitive to the cold. The other problem is that, depending on where you live, it can get really, really cold during the winter, and your plants can be damaged as you dash through the snow between the store and your car.

To keep your plants from freezing, place a paper bag gently over the plant before you leave the store. This will help trap some of the warmth coming from the potting soil. Move the plant quickly to your heated car, and keep it in the passenger cabin instead of the trunk. Don't leave the plant in an unheated car, which means that it should be the last thing you pick up on your shopping list.

Indoors, keep the plant from touching cold window panes. Six to 12 inches from the window will give enough light, but still protect it from icy windows. Also, keep the plants away from doors and other drafts.

Last up, be sure to not let all that waste ruin your holidays ...

dried dead Christmas Tree in trash

Holiday waste guilt

Got guilty feelings about the mountain of waste generated after Christmas? Wrapping paper, cardboard, and empty bottles of Christmas cheer can be recycled. Greeting cards are sometimes accepted by schools and nursing homes for craft projects. Boxes can be collapsed and saved for future presents, or even for mailing. Contact your local solid waste district to see what is accepted locally.

Christmas trees can also be recycled. Some communities offer free tree-chipping days, and the resulting mulch is given away for free.

The dead trees can also be used as a shelter for birds by propping it up in a sheltered corner. Hang suet or peanut butter feeders to attract birds. If you own a pond, the trees can be sunk to the bottom to provide a shelter for small fish. Gardeners can cut the branches off the trunk and lay them over their perennial beds for a little extra winter protection.

The holidays don't have to be perilous to your family or the environment. With a little bit of preparation and some common sense, you can have a safe and happy holiday season!

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