Seasonal Decorations

This guidance does not apply to the University of Missouri Healthcare System.

Fresh Cut Trees/Foliage and Seasonal Decorations in MU Buildings, Residence Halls, and Family Student Housing Units



All natural trees and evergreen decorations must be sprayed with a fire retardant material.

If you desire a live tree, EHS recommends purchasing it from the MU Forestry Club, which sprays the trees with a fire retardant and tags them at no additional cost. Their annual sale will be held December 7-8 in parking lot SG-4 at the corner of Champions Drive and Providence Point. Live trees are not allowed in unsprinklered facilities.

Seasonal decorations may not be put up earlier than November 27, 2019, and must be removed from the site by January 7, 2020. Please remember that the danger of fire increases each day fresh cut foliage and trees are displayed.

All trees and decorations in residence halls and family student housing should be disposed of before the winter vacation begins (December 13, 2019) except for the units which will be occupied.

If trees and/or boughs become dry before these dates they must be immediately removed. Electrical cords for lights should not be run through or under a door, especially a metal door. Such practice can lead to electrocution or a fire.

Please distribute this information to the appropriate personnel in your department/building. (The PDF version of this information is available here: PDF.) Contact Environmental Health & Safety at (573) 882-7018 for more information.



Requirements for ALL trees and decorations

  1. Trees must not be placed near a stairway, radiator, exit, hallway, or any other location where the tree, if standing or fallen, would block an escape route, signage or increase fire risk.
  2. If you own or plan on purchasing an artificial holiday tree check to make sure it is marked "U.L. Listed" and labeled "Fire Resistant".
  3. Electrical wiring should be inspected for frayed cords, loose connections, broken sockets, exposed wires and general safety prior to putting lighting on the tree. All wiring must be U.L. approved. Follow manufacturer's guidelines for number of lights on any one circuit. Do not use real candles or other open flames on fresh cut trees or as decorations in general.
  4. Never leave seasonal tree lights on unless someone is in the area where the tree is located or the tree is visible to someone at all times.
  5. Electrical tree lights are not to be used on metallic trees due to the ever present danger of electrocution.
  6. Avoid use of electrical extension cords if possible and never use them for periods exceeding 30 days.

Requirements for natural trees and decorations

  1. Live trees should not be used in unsprinklered facilities.
  2. Be sure the tree and/or boughs are not dried out when you get them. Grasp a branch about 6" from the end and firmly slide it between your fingers to the tip. If the tree is fresh, no needles will come off. No red cedar trees or red cedar boughs are to be used under any circumstances due to their fast drying nature.
  3. After purchasing a tree, keep it in water and outside the facility until the time you set it up (no earlier than November 21st). When you are ready to set up the tree, saw approximately two inches off the bottom of the trunk to assist in absorption of water. Be sure the tree is placed in a sturdy, broad-based stand which will hold water and be sure to keep water in the stand at all times. Check water level daily.
  4. All natural trees and evergreen boughs set up in University facilities are to be sprayed with a fire retardant material.
  5. There will be no designated drop-off location on campus property for disposal of seasonal trees. The City of Columbia provides drop off locations for recycling. For details see!rc-cpage=203338
  6. Do not put trees in dumpsters or outside on the curb, in the yard, or other locations.