Griswolds, get ready. It's time to string the lights. Oh, my.

Stephenville has always displayed the holiday spirit. Neighborhood rooftops and yards twinkle with hundreds of lights. In some areas, sightseers can turn off car lights and the surrounding area is as bright as day. It's become a competitive event in various sections of town.

The homes' interiors are embellished just as lavishly. However, ‘tis the time to be especially mindful of live trees and dangers if precautions are not taken.

Most likely, all have boxes of old strings of lights just waiting to be untangled and draped on the room's main attraction. It must be remembered, however, forty strings of twinkles cannot be plugged into one outlet. One spark from a shorted circuit could turn your home into an inferno. A properly sized strip outlet with built-in circuit breaker is best, according to experts. If extension cords are used, they should never be warm to the touch.

Fire department officials encourage having a fire extinguisher nearby, as well as new batteries in smoke detectors. More than 400 residential fires involve Christmas trees and, tragically, nearly 40 deaths and 100 injuries result from those fires.

Candles should be kept away from other decorations and out of the reach of little hands. Also, fireplaces are an open invitation for embers to fly straight to live branches.

Karla Young, manager of Greenmaker Nursery, said that prior preparation of a live tree will prolong its life.

“The most important thing is to cut off a little of the base and put the tree in water,” Young said. “Before decorating, spray it to be certain it doesn't dry out.”

She said if the tree begins to dry out before adding ornaments, re-cut the trunk in fresh water.

“Special concoctions to prolong the tree's life don't normally work,” Young said. “Just plain water does the job.”

When selecting a tree, look for one that is green. The needles of pines and spruces should bend and not break and should be hard to pull off the branches.

Greenmaker's new shipment of trees includes Doublas, Noble, and Nordman firs.

“We have an excellent variety of healthy trees this year,” she said.

According to Young, the woodlands decoration is this year's favorite adorned with feathers, deer, acorns, birds, pine cones, and any other forest items.

While turning a home into a celebration of the holidays, pet owners must remember that their little four-legged creatures often become victims of the holidays. Broken ornaments, hooks, tinsel, and ribbon can cause serious internal injuries if ingested. Poinsettias, mistletoe berries, lilies, and some other popular holiday plants can cause them serious stomach upset. If an open water container is used for the tree, it can be covered with foil or netting to prevent drinking the stagnant liquid.

Pets love to climb the live trees. A solution to keep the tree upright is to place a hook in the ceiling and use nylon yarn to tie the top of the tree to the ceiling hook.

Holidays should be merry and bright. Be sensible. Be safe.