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Holiday Decorating

Teri L. Lanza Comments
Posted in Articles

By Teri L. Lanza

Festive panache goes a long way in creating holiday cheer for employees and customers ...and creates great marketing opportunities, too.

A special thanks goes out to the Bialek family of Manitoba, Canada, for allowing us to draw on its "Merry Christmas Page," ~tyndall/cmas/xmas.htm. The family claims to be setting a record this year for the largest rural Christmas display in "The Heart of Eastern Manitoba," with upward of 15,000 lights.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic cup hooks--available in packages at any hardware or home-retail store
  • Thick wire--sturdy but flexible, this can be used to hang a number of items
  • Sticky tabs
  • Twist ties or pipe cleaners
  • A large roll of velvet ribbon
  • Heavy-duty extension cords, long and short--those approved for outdoor use are preferable
  • Plenty of replacement bulbs in different voltages
  • A sturdy ladder
  • Plenty of patience

Don't Get Tangled...


Photographing Your Light Display


Other Decorating Ideas

  • Make a wreath out of branches from your Christmas tree and deck them with traditional items, like bells and bows, or personalize it with items indigenous to your region. For example, suggests that if you live in a warm climate, you could attach plastic sunglasses, flamingos or toy lizards.
  • Use your holiday cards as decoration by hanging them on a string along the top of a room, or affix them to a wall or door in the shape of a tree, wreath or candy cane.
  • Cut some boughs from your Christmas tree or out in the wild. Bunch them together in small groups with wreath wire and tie them with a ribbon. Add wired pine cones for a festive touch. Hang them in doorways, over windows or on walls.
  • Many facilities sell boxes to their tenants. Try wrapping a few empty boxes in holiday paper to look like gifts and pile them on your counter.
  • Play some holiday music in your office. If you have music piped into your facility, you can play it there as well.
  • Fill a glass bowl or vase with shiny ornaments. Hang decorations from your houseplants and indoor trees.
  • Set up a miniature holiday village somewhere in your office.
  • Put a bowl of holiday candy, a gingerbread house, fresh fruit or cookies on your counter.

Spreading Cheer

Consider organizing a caroling outing or participating in a Sub-for-Santa program. And don't forget to contact the local media well in advance if you're going to feature an unusual or elaborate light display or participate in a holiday fund-raiser. Decorating your facility will put you in the spotlight--now is the time to do something worth noticing.

Holiday Safety Tips

Tree Safety

  • Place Christmas trees away from fireplaces, heating vents and other heat-producing appliances.
  • Cut Christmas trees can be extremely flammable, particularly if they are dry. Trees should be kept well-watered. A dry tree will lose green needles when tapped on the ground.
  • Saw at least an inch off the bottom of a cut tree and place it firmly in a stand that holds at least one gallon of water, with the water level above the cut. A 6-foot tree will use a gallon of water every one to two days.
  • All natural decorations used indoors--including trees and wreaths--should be treated with fire retardant.
  • To fire-retard a tree, allow the sawed-off trunk to soak overnight in a bucket of the following mixture: 2 gallons of hot water, 2 cups of corn syrup, 1/4 cup of liquid bleach, 2 pinches of epsom salts and 1/2 teaspoon of Boraxo.
  • The use of candles as decorations is strongly discouraged. If you must use them, place them in sturdy holders away from flammable objects. Remember that melted candle wax can cause burns, especially for children.
  • Never attempt to burn any portion of the Christmas tree in the fireplace. Dispose of the tree properly.

Lighting Safety

  • Use tree lights that bear the Underwriters' Laboratory (U.L.) label, and check the strings for signs of wear and tear. Do not use lights that are frayed or that have missing or broken bulbs.
  • Always unplug a light string before replacing a bulb.
  • Extreme caution should be observed when rigging holiday lighting. Metallic decorations--including artificial trees, some types of icicles and tinsel--should not be strung with lights, as they conduct electricity and may become energized by faults in the electrical wiring.
  • Avoid overloading wall outlets or extension cords. Use no more than three sets of lights per extension cord, and do not run cords under rugs or in other paths of travel. If the cord ever feels hot, that means it's carrying too much electricity.
  • Use miniature lights that have cool-burning bulbs.
  • Use only outdoor lights on the exterior of a building. Point the light sockets down to avoid the collection of moisture. Keep outdoor electrical connectors above ground and out of puddles of snow.
  • When connecting light strands outdoors, wrap a plastic bag around the connections and tie the ends with teflon tape.
  • Never staple lights to fasten them to walls or other surfaces. Use plastic or metal hooks for hanging.
  • Remember to turn off all lights and other electrical decorations before leaving the premises for extended periods of time or going to sleep.


  • Do not obstruct exit doors, corridors, fire alarms, sprinkler heads or any other emergency-response equipment with decorations of any kind.
  • Check fire alarms and smoke detectors regularly. Be sure to keep them stocked with fresh batteries.
  • Always keep a fire extinguisher in an easily accessible place.

Inside Self-Storage

Holiday safety tips were provided by the Environmental Health and Safety Department of the University of Maryland ( ); the Summit Area Jaycees of New Jersey ( ); Swift Office Solutions of Tempe, Ariz. ( ); KWTV of Oklahoma City, Okla. ( ); and

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