The thought of putting up a Christmas tree decorated with your favorite family heirloom ornaments (most of which are incredibly fragile) is a daunting thought when you have a toddler running around grabbing everything, and either immediately putting it in their mouth, or throwing it on the floor to see if it bounces. I love having a Christmas tree during the holidays – being able to sit in the living room at night with just the lights of the tree creating such a warm and peaceful ambiance! So, I set out to answer the all important question…can you have a Christmas tree and a toddler at the same time?
The answer is yes! With a little bit of pre-planning, creativity, and slight modifications…it can be done!
Our first Christmas with our daughter, the thought of whether or not we would have a tree, never crossed our mind – our little nugget was only a few months old (i.e. not mobile enough to pull lights and ornaments off of a beautiful Douglas Fir). But as the holidays approached the following year, we almost decided against our sacred tradition. How could we possibly keep a hands-on and extremely mobile one-year-old from destroying all of our ornaments, or better yet, from toppling the tree over on top of herself?
But I was desperate to have a tree, especially since we were hosting family that year. And so, knowing how important it was to me, my husband brilliantly suggested that we put the tree on top of a table. I’m not sure that I would have ever thought of this solution. I’m so lucky to be married to such a creative problem-solver!
And as it turned out…this little trick was helpful in more than one way, in regards to our little nugget’s inquisitive nature. Not only could she not reach high enough to cause any harm to the tree, our ornaments, or herself, but we were also able to hide several presents underneath the table, that the tree skirt miraculously blocked from her view! This certainly saved a lot of my time, that I would have otherwise spent re-wrapping gifts, after my daughter finished ripping everything open.
Another suggestion that I had come across, was to craft a tree specifically for a toddler to play with and decorate on their own (the idea being that they would then be more likely to leave your tree alone). I thought this was a wonderful concept and so, branching off of an idea I saw from Kristina at Toddler Approved, for a Photo Christmas Tree for Babies & Toddlers (http://www.toddlerapproved.com/2014/11/build-photo-christmas-tree-for-babies.html), I set out to craft my own toddler tree.
While I loved the concept of a photo tree, I felt that I did not have a whole lot of time to invest in this little project (while also wrangling and wrapping all of the gifts for our families, baking an abundance of Christmas goodies, and still keeping my household running), so I decided to create a felt tree to tape to the side of our kitchen cabinets. I guess I was in the midst of my fun felt board stage (and already had the supplies handy)…see my blog post about Fun with Velcro and Felt Boards here: http://capturingparenthood.com/fun-velcro-felt-boards/.
The end result was a cute little Christmas tree with an assortment of circular ornaments, a couple of candy canes, a couple of bells, and a bright yellow star to top it all off!
And as luck would have it, our daughter’s preference for playing with her Christmas tree, was to have us decorate it, so that she could immediately come and swipe all of the decorations off onto the floor…and then…repeat. So, the majority of the holiday season, there was just a bare little Christmas tree in our kitchen, with a bunch of random decorations sprawled all over the floor!
As parents we learn that not everything turns out as you planned. Actually, most everything does not turn out as you planned…but, it is all part of the wonderful journey, and I would not trade it for a second.
And…I’m happy to announce that this year, even with a rambunctious and curious two-year-old, our Christmas tree is back on the floor – we decided to risk it. I spent a bit more time this year sorting through our ornaments and creating a “safe pile” that our daughter could use to decorate our tree (at her level). My husband and I placed all of our fragile ornaments up higher. We told our little nugget that the Christmas tree is meant to be admired and enjoyed (with our eyes, and not our hands) and that the many neat items adorning it are ornaments…not toys. This seemed to help a bit. Don’t get me wrong, she still goes around and pokes at a few things, but she mostly just gives us a running list of each ornament on the tree, as she cruises by multiple times a day!