Tips for a safe and healthy holiday season!

Did you know that...?

Singing and dancing while putting up your holiday decorations is good for your health.

And it's true!


Whether you're singing Little Santa or My Christmas Tree, studies have shown that singing can boost your antibody levels. According to a study by the Frankfurt Music Institute, singing increases immunoglobulin A (antibodies) and lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels. On the other hand, if you're not keen on vocal performance, simply listening to music can increase your dopamine (pleasure hormone) levels by 6-9%.


What's more, if you add dancing to your singing tour, you'll also improve your blood circulation, resulting in increased oxygen supply to your heart, brain and muscles.


Enjoy the festive season,

here are 4 other holiday activities and traditions that are good for your health!

Decorate your home

The sooner the better!


Don't let the Grinches of this world discourage you from decorating early. If you can't contain your haste and enjoy putting up your decorations in November or as early as December 1, your heart, both symbolic and physical, will thank you.


Let yourself go, take out the tree, have fun decorating it with lights and ornaments, then watch it light up your home and your smile.


This activity eclipses the stresses and responsibilities of daily life, bringing you back to the joys of childhood. This reduction in stress and anxiety is good for your heart health. Indeed, when you're tense, your heart works harder and your heart rate is faster. So it's a good idea to reduce them, to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.


This touch of enchantment in your home can make you happier and give your heart a little respite.


Cooking recipes with ginger and cinnamon flavours

These spices, along with star anise and cloves, can help improve digestion and reduce bloating and nausea.


In addition to aiding digestion, thanks to their high antioxidant, mineral and fiber content, cinnamon and ginger also relieve inflammation and boost the immune system.


Although it's advisable to take a herbal tea with these spices before a meal, so that they are fully effective, it's still good news for fans of gingerbread cookies and mulled wine!


Counting the days with chocolates

Yes, we're talking about the famous Advent calendar!


If you've opted for a calendar containing dark chocolate, this little daily treat helps to lower your blood pressure and your risk of cardiovascular disease.


To improve heart health, however, dark chocolate should be eaten in moderation, as the fat it contains makes it high in calories. In fact, it's recommended to eat just one 100-gram piece of chocolate a day, containing at least 70% cocoa.


Playing in the snow

It's a great time to get out with friends and family for sledding, snowshoeing and snowman building!


Many will take advantage of the vacation season to spend quality time with family and friends. Winter outings are the order of the day. As well as being great fun, these outdoor activities help counteract vitamin D deficiencies caused by lack of daylight. This vitamin intake helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis, heart disease and depression.


In short, a minimum of 15 minutes of outdoor activity a day helps you burn off energy, improve circulation and replenish your vitamin D levels. It's great for your physical and mental health!


Safe festivities!

Holidays that go up in smoke or end up in the emergency room aren't very cheerful, are they!


Dangerous gifts?

Battery-operated toys


When you're out shopping for gifts for your children, grandchildren or any other youngsters you care about this holiday season, you might be tempted by electronic toys, greeting cards or musical books.


But beware: some of these toys carry serious risks! If ingested, the small batteries they contain can cause burns to the esophagus, trachea and main artery. Unfortunately, these injuries can quickly turn fatal.  


Here are a few tips to help you avoid such an incident:


Buy toys with battery compartments secured by screws.


Never change batteries in front of your child.


Store batteries in an inaccessible place.


If your child accidentally swallows a button cell battery, do not make him vomit, drink or eat. Go to the emergency room immediately.


Toys that are too small


Small toys, such as Lego blocks, are a choking hazard for children under 3.


Unfortunately, according to the Canadian Paediatric Society, choking and suffocation account for nearly 40% of unintentional injuries to infants under one year of age in Canada.


That's why it's essential to respect the recommended age on the packaging, and make sure that any toys whose packaging you no longer have are larger than the fist of a child between 0 and 3 years of age.


Watch out for falling trees!

Your tree stands proudly in your living room, ready to brighten up your day, but is it properly installed?


The scenario of a tree falling on a family member or guest is not unlikely, and certainly not harmless. A natural Christmas tree alone can weigh around 15 kilos. With lights, garlands and ornaments, the weight increases, and so does the risk of injury if it falls on someone.


It's a good idea to set it up in a place where it won't get in the way, and to secure it to a tripod heavy enough to keep it from swinging around.


A Christmas that goes up in smoke

30 seconds is all the time you have to react before your Christmas tree is completely engulfed in flames!


A Christmas tree can quickly catch fire if the necessary precautions are not taken:


The tree, as well as gifts and any flammable decorations, must not be placed too close to a heat source.


It's important to follow the instructions on the packaging of the lights, e.g. outdoor outside and indoor inside. Be careful not to overload outlets, and use extension cords with surge protection.


A natural Christmas tree needs daily watering! It's also a good idea to spray the branches regularly, taking care to unplug lights beforehand, and to avoid spraying more fragile decorations.


Toxic decorations

According to France's Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation, de l'environnement et du travail (Anses), poison control centers receive between 60 and 80 calls every year from children under 15 who have accidentally put holly berries in their mouths. Of these cases, almost 40% occur during the holiday season, due to their presence in Christmas decorations such as wreaths.


Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are popular holiday decorative plants. However, they are also toxic. If ingested, they can cause symptoms of varying severity, depending on the quantity consumed. More specifically;


Holly berries in small quantities (1 or 2 berries) will cause minor digestive problems. Larger quantities may cause vomiting, severe salivation, diarrhea and convulsions.

These berries can also cause serious digestive problems in pets, as well as neurological disorders such as drowsiness or coma.


Mistletoe, in small quantities, will not necessarily cause symptoms, but may cause minor digestive disorders (e.g. diarrhea and vomiting). However, in larger quantities, the ingestion of mistletoe leaves and berries can cause serious cardiac symptoms (e.g. low blood pressure and heart rhythm disorders).

This plant is toxic, even fatal, to domestic animals and grazing herbivores (cows, sheep, horses, etc.).


Poinsettia can cause minor digestive disorders in children. However, symptoms are more serious in pets (digestive disorders, excessive salivation, etc.).



A pain-free party!

It won't be long before the magic of the holidays takes hold of your spirits and your evenings. Here are a few tips to make sure your celebrations with family and friends are magical and trouble-free.


Store boots and coats in a sensible place, out of the way (e.g. bath or wardrobe). Otherwise, in the hustle and bustle of the party, a child, grandparent or tipsy guest could trip and hurt themselves.


Keep glasses of alcohol away from curious little hands. If a child accidentally consumes a small amount of alcohol, it can cause blood sugar levels to drop (hypoglycemia), or even lead to convulsions. If this happens, have your child drink a sweetened beverage (e.g. lemonade or grenadine). Don't hesitate to contact your regional Poison Control Center if you're unsure, or to go to the emergency room if there's a risk of alcohol poisoning.


Don't force children to sit on Santa's lap if they don't want to. If a child is reluctant to meet Santa, it's best to respect his limits and not insist. Let him observe from a distance and decide for himself. This helps them learn about individual limits and personal safety. What's more, if he's forced to act against his will, he may try to flee the situation and accidentally hurt himself or someone else.



Agence France-Presse. December 2020. "Christmas decorative plants: beware of poison". La Presse. URL: [Last accessed 08/12/2021]

Allard, S. December 2012. "10 good reasons to celebrate Christmas". La Presse. URL: [Last consulted on 08/12/2021]

ANSES. December 2020. "Decorative plants - their ingestion can be toxic for both humans and animals". URL:écoratives-leur-ingestion-peut-être-toxique-pour-les-hommes-comme-pour-les-animaux [Last consulted on 08/12/2021]

Belgian Poison Control Centre. S.d. "Ingestion d'alcool chez le jeune enfant". URL: [Last consulted on 08/12/2021] S.d. "À chacun ses limites".

URL: [Last consulted on 08/12/2021]

Radio-Canada. December 2016. "The dangers of holiday decorating". ICI Manitoba. URL: [Last accessed on 08/12/2021]

Ville de Gatineau. December 2019. "Holiday safety tips".

URL: [Last accessed on 08/12/2021]


Article written in collaboration with Laurie Lévesque, content creator for Académie Saint-Bernard


Émilie Bédard

Communications Manager