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What Should I Know About Edible Christmas Decorations?

Tangerines with cloves are a popular Christmas decoration.
"Serve" a gingerbread house soon after baking it.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 July 2014
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Edible Christmas decorations are a wonderful way to liven up your home during the holidays. The tradition of decking trees or halls with edible things predates Christian adoption of the Christmas tree. Early Germanic groups would often decorate winter trees with dead animals, perhaps not the most attractive decorating choice for today. Still association of abundance with Christmas, makes edible Christmas decorations a natural choice.

There are a few things to consider when you’re choosing edible Christmas decorations. If Christmas is the season when ants or other pests typically pay call to your home, you may want to skip truly edible decorations in favor of those that merely look edible. Glass and ceramic ornaments in the shape of candy canes, gingerbread men, and the like are widely available. Just make sure you keep these non-edible look-alikes away from kids who may think they’re the real deal. Assure guests and young children they merely look real, and keep some real cookies or candy canes on hand to give out instead. Arrange gumdrop trees for celebration nights if you want to evoke some older traditions and keep your guests eagerly picking off these delightful modern sugarplums.

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Alternately, prepare for the Christmas season by spraying or bombing for bugs that might decide your edible decorations are an invitation to feast. If you use things like roach motels or ant traps or stakes, be certain these are well out of reach of children. You can also choose edible Christmas decorations that aren’t particularly attractive to pests. Strings of brightly colored peppers can create a southwest Christmas scene in your home, and most ants stay well away from oranges or tangerines stuffed with cloves (a few don’t, so you’ll have to try a test decoration to see if your particular ant visitors avoid it).

Perhaps the most popular of edible Christmas decorations is the gingerbread house. Here it’s important to decide just how edible the house is. Many of these homes use royal frosting for decoration and to put the house together. Royal frosting can pose a potential health risk since it is usually made with raw egg whites, which can harbor salmonella. If you want guests to feast on your house, be sure to use eggs that are pasteurized to make your frosting. Also bear in mind that edible Christmas decorations do have a shelf life. If you plan for people to eat your gingerbread house, you should consider “serving” it a day or so after preparing it.

Another thing to consider is placement of edible decorations. If you’re planning on using any foods that might pose risk to your pets, such as chocolate which can be toxic to dogs, be certain these are well out of Rover’s reach. Furthermore, you don’t want your children to gorge themselves on too much candy that’s well in reach, so either institute an “ask me first” rule, or keep those candy canes and other treats above reachable levels.

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