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How to Host Guests With Allergies This Holiday

Posted Monday, November 28th, 2016
guests sitting at wooden table with candles enjoying a meal with a Christmas tree in the background

Six ways to be considerate of guests with allergies

We all want to be good hosts to our guests. While it might be impressive to fold everyone an origami reindeer, what’s really going to make you a star this season is accommodating your guests’ allergies. It only takes a bit of knowledge and preparation to make this holiday merry and safe for everyone.

1. We’re going to get a Christmas tree (and then wash it).

Pine needles can trigger many different kinds of allergic reactions. The most obvious allergen they carry is pine pollen, as well as various molds, which grow as the trees sit outside. Also, a few people are allergic to the chemical sprays used in farming, or the terpene oils produced by coniferous trees. Trimming the tree isn’t much fun if it leaves people congested with red eyes and a rash.

If you prefer natural greenery, gently spray and wipe the branches with a diluted bleach and water solution before you bring the greenery inside. This should remove any molds, pollen, or pesticides. Since bleach will dull the bright colors of ribbon and artificial flowers, only use water on decorated wreaths and garlands. Christmas trees are often too large to wash entirely by hand. Instead wipe the trunk, the likeliest place for mold, with a bleach and water solution. Then spray it down with a garden hose.

2. Be alert to possible centerpiece catastrophes.

Floral centerpieces can be a real problem for guest with allergies and can also bring on an asthma attack. However, it’s the fragrance, not the pollen, that starts your guests wheezing and sniffing. This kind of reaction is not always a true allergy – just an uncomfortable response to a scent that can irritate the lining of your nose and throat. For an easy fix, you can substitute less strongly scented flowers. Ask your florist to make an arrangement with seasonal but unscented blooms, like holly, or amaryllis.

3. Avoid room fresheners, candles, and potpourri.

Like flowers, the strong scents in candles, room fresheners, and potpourri can inflame the sensitive airways of people with asthma. Some paraffin wax candles may even release carcinogenic chemicals when they burn, according to research done at South Carolina State University. Stick to soybean and beeswax candles, and if the scent it particularly strong, blow them out before guests arrive. Avoid room fresheners and potpourri altogether. And, if you want something for ambiance, burn unscented candles at the table.

4. You may bring more than the ornaments up from the basement.

The places we tend to store our holiday decorations, like attics, garages, and basements, all are prime breeding grounds for mold. When possible, unpack the boxes in a well-ventilated space. Wipe ornaments and artificial plants and greenery with a damp rag sprayed with a color-safe cleaning solution. A small amount of white vinegar mixed with distilled water, or a store-bought green cleaner, should kill any mold spores clinging to last year’s poinsettias.

5. Keep your figgy-pudding free of possible allergens.

It can be difficult to accommodate guests with food allergies, but these can be very serious, even life-threatening. A considerate host will communicate clearly with people ahead of time. Ask your friends to tell you about any allergies, and check whether your planned menu will accommodate their dietary restrictions. If you absolutely can’t avoid serving something that contains an ingredient one of your guests can’t have, set up separate serving areas to avoid cross-contamination, and clearly label the different dishes.

6. Have your air-ducts cleaned before turning on your furnace for the first time.

The weather is turning colder in Michigan, and we may be cranking up the heat to keep our guests warm. However, several months of dander, dust, and mold may have accumulated in our air-ducts since we last turned on the furnace. If your guests are allergic to pets, dustmites, or mildew, they may soon be sneezing and coughing their way through not-so-silent nights. Think about having your air-ducts cleaned before your holiday guests arrive.

Modernistic will have your indoor air clean and allergen-free in no time at all, so that you and your family can have a happy and healthy holiday. Contact us today!

Serving Wyoming, Michigan for 40 years.

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