Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dilemmas of Decorations

Putting up Christmas decorations with children around is often a daunting task!! Every year I carefully rearrange those ornaments, knick knacks, and wreaths. But something inevitable gets broken (either in putting them up, putting them away, or just a casualty throughout the month). I always wonder if my toddler will pull the tree down on him/herself, if a fire will start because of all the plugs, or if my favorite nativity set will land on my baby's head.

I worry about those decorations and the safety of my kids, but at the same time.... I WANT to put them all up so my house looks festive!

So what are your tricks of the trade??
What do you do to keep your toddler's little hands off those decorations?
How do you keep your tree out of reach of your little ones?
How did you keep everyone safe from plugs, broken glass, and decorations dropped on heads?
Any other decorating tips you can offer??


Kym, Shaun and Riley said...

OH Tannie!! You read my mind!! We've been discussing this one lately, too. We've been thinking about possibly putting up a "cage/gate" around the Christmas tree, but aren't sure because we haven't checked the cost of them. I've see it done on "Jon & Kate plus 8", but I'm not sure if we're going to because of limited space as well. I'm very interested in seeing what others have to say about this and what their ideas/suggestions are.

Shantel said...

I don't have a lot of experience with this yet since my little one is only 18 months, but here is what we are doing. We set up the tree as a family and thus far Ryan hasn't done more that pat the branches. We haven't done anything to block the tree off and he hasn't seemed to care much about it. Every morning her runs out and says, "on, on, on" wanting the trees' lights turned on, but other than that he is happy to just look. He loves balls right now and threw the first glass ball I got out across the room so we decided to wait another year before we put balls on the tree. They are just too strong of a temptation and I don't want to fight over it for a month.
We decided to purchase a Fisher Price Little People nativity and so far I love it! They are a little pricey, so we decided that if we were going to get one we might as well get one while I first is little. Ryan has loved playing with it and its been a great FHE tool. It's nice to have one that is completely child proof that he can play with so I don't have to worry about him playing with my ceramic one.
Good luck!

Megan said...

Last year I had cloth ornaments that I hung on the bottom of the tree and that worked great for little hands. Those same ornaments will probably go on the tree again this year. I too have a child proof nativity that will be put out, if it get's played with, it won't matter. I try to keep things that I absolutely don't want broken up out of little hands reach.

Chris and Laura said...

We have our tree up on a table, and it's actually tied down (you can look at our blog to see what I mean). I know that can be tricky depending on your house, but it has worked really well. Only the last row of branches is within toddler arm reach, leaving the rest of the branches safe for ornaments.

We use the long wire hooks you can get at Walmart. When we put the ornament up, we wrap the wire tightly around the ornament, hang it on the tree, then tighten the other end of the wire around the branch of the tree also. It doesn't make it impossible for little hands to get them down, but they are much much less likely to fall off just from being bumped. And my daughter generally gives up fairly quickly when she can't get it right off.

As for plugs, I try to set up the tree in front of the plug so it makes it harder to get to the cords.

And I think it's a good idea to have some Christmas decorations that are for playing with. I like the idea of the toy nativity and the cloth ornaments. If the kids have something that's ok to play with, it'll be easier to keep them away from the other decorations.

Jennifer said...

When I was little my parents hung the tree from the ceiling. really. and put up a baby gate too. :)

We will see what happens this year with my two little ones too!

Jared and Delia said...

I think you should just try it. See what happens. Your worst nightmares may not be realized and if they are then you can make modifications as you go. Of course, like others have said, I would keep breakables up high or put them away for a few years until your child understands and is capable of respecting those items. I was surprised to find that my 3 year old was capable of having breakables down low without much problem so you won't have to baby proof for too many years.

I set up our tree yesterday. It just so happens that we don't have glass balls at all and really all of our ornaments are not breakable - I just realized. Many of them are homemade and we have multiples - like the cinnamon applesauce ornaments, candy canes, wooden ones, cloth or felt ones. Our few keepsake ornaments go on top so there is no problem there. Since I don't care if most of them get messed with it helps me not stress about it so much when they get tossed or bitten. My baby tests his boundaries with the tree still a bit here and there but overall I just ask him to leave it alone and he does. I try not to dote on the tree or mess with the ornaments while he is awake so he won't want to copy me. So far as I ignore the tree so does he. It is my four year that is driving me crazy. He makes little "houses" behind the couch and steals the ornaments to decorate his new house for Christmas. But that is another topic.

Our lights cord is secured behind our couch. We just make sure we only light it at night when both parents are home and can help with plug guarding duty. During the day when it is off, it is a non-issue most of the time. As for tipping I say just make sure that in your effort to baby proof don't make it top heavy.

Of course all this depends on your child. Some kids care about touching all that stuff and others lose interest easily.

I figure that my kids are little only for a few years. I can have my glass ball filled fancy tree later. For now, I like our homemade, kid-friendly tree that brings us joy instead of a ton of stress.

Jessie said...

I've heard of people putting their trees in their pack-n-plays to keep the kids away from them, but I've never done something so extreme, myself. For our tree, we just keep nicer ornaments up top and away from where the kids could reach using the couch or a chair, and we don't usually wrap presents very early, to reduce temptation. For everything else--we just keep our nicer decorations up on the mantle, and put the things that either a.) we don't mind our kids playing with, or b.) the kids will have no interest in, in the lower down places. My biggest issue in the past has been with our cat--how do you keep a cat out of your tree, away from your strands of lights, and out of the greenery? She has made our lights more dangerous by cutting into them with her claws, and any glass balls on the tree are quickly removed and broken by being batted against the walls... so frustrating.

Betsy said...

We have two trees - a big one with all the nice decorations and a little tree that my kids can play with and touch. I did this when my oldest was still little (around 1). It takes a little bit of training at first, but it has worked out great. Every time he would try and touch the big tree/ornaments, I would lead him over to his tree and tell him he could play with the ornaments on his tree. After a few times he just started going straight to his tree. He is now 4 and still loves his own tree most. Hopefully that will work with my 18 month old daughter this year!

Chris and Laura said...

Quick tip on cats--use a spray bottle. Anytime the cat gets close to the tree, give them a quick squirt of water and it'll scare them away. After a few times, they'll generally stay away. Keep the bottle handy, though, because they'll still come back sometimes...

My dad has done this with every cat we've ever owned, and it's worked every time.

Britta said...

One option (not appealing to me necessarily) is to not put the tree up until the week before Christmas. Hang up decorations around the home and have other Christmas related art projects going to get the feeling of Christmas. Waiting will minimize the length of time you are chasing kids away from the tree and will also ease the anticipation for young kids that know the tree means something special and get frustrated waiting.

I liked Laura's comment about spraying cats with a water bottle- I though briefly that you could attempt to do the same with toddlers :) Lol.

harmony001 said...

Kids- put the tree up on a table (like a coffee table or bedside table) so that the lowest branches are out of the baby's reach

Cat- most hate the smell of citrus- orange body spray makes the tree smell "offensive" to the cat and he will leave it alone even while you're gone- can also put orange peels around tree, but will need to replace in a week

Works for me!

JeriLynn said...

Some of my favorite memories as a kid were playing with the Christmas decorations, so I make sure mine are kid-friendly.

My kids have the mini tree left over from our college days, along with their own strand of Christmas lights in their room. They also have a play nativity set, and that keeps them from the formal tree (which is decorated with dollar store ornaments).

As for other decorations, they usually get bored with them after a while, but I do make sure to put the nicest ones up high.