The kids coming downstairs Christmas morning to find a puppy in a big, red bow. The idea is sweet—but it’s one that’s best left to Hallmark commercials. Our friends at WOOFipedia shared these great suggestions with us and wanted to share with you.

“A dog is a serious commitment, and you should never surprise someone with a puppy they aren’t ready to keep for a lifetime,” said American Kennel Club (AKC) Spokesperson Lisa Peterson.  “A dog needs to suit your lifestyle, and it’s important to consider the energy level, size, coat and temperament of a puppy – as well as your own readiness – before you make a decision.”

Any prospective owner should always carefully consider their schedule and circumstances before bringing a new pet into their home. This is especially true during the holidays when parties, travel, or out-of-town visitors might adversely affect your ability to give a new puppy all the attention he deserves. If your holidays will be hectic, wait until after the hustle and bustle.

Instead, consider wrapping pet accessories, like a leash or bowl to symbolize the gift of a puppy to come—this will give the recipient time to do their research and prepare for the commitment. 

Already have a new puppy in the home? Here are tips to make sure his first Christmas is a safe one:

If you have a real Christmas tree, make sure your dog doesn’t swallow the pine needles or drink the tree water which can cause stomach irritation, or contain poisonous plant food.  Try putting a gate around the tree to keep your dog away, or consider getting an artificial tree.

Puppies like to chew and explore, and exposed wires from holiday lights pose a threat to your curious little friend– if he chews on them, he could be electrocuted.  Tape indoor wires to the wall and outdoor wires to the side of the house where your dog can’t reach them.

Be careful with candles around your house, as a wagging tail can knock them over and cause serious burns or even start a house fire. 

Click here for more WOOFipedia stories