What Should I Know About Edible Christmas Decorations?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

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.

"Serve" a gingerbread house soon after baking it.
"Serve" a gingerbread house soon after baking it.

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.

Tangerines with cloves are a popular Christmas decoration.
Tangerines with cloves are a popular Christmas decoration.

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.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments


@Terrificli -- Fortunately, Christmas is in the dead of winter in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world. That means that a hard frost should have taken care of most pests before you even thought about putting up a tree.

Even if you live in a buggy area, those winter frosts tend to keep them in check unless you are experiencing one of those rare, odd Indian summers that seem to keep temperatures up and pests active forever.


If you are worried about pests eating your edible ornaments, you might spray the area around the tree before you set it up. Also, candy canes are a great treat because they are wrapped in plastic and, hopefully, won't attract pests.

It would be a shame to miss out on edible ornaments, particularly if you have kids around your house during Christmas. They love eating candy canes and such off the tree.

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