Buying and decorating the Christmas tree is always a special part of the festive season. Heading out to buy one, cold fingers, trying to rip apart tight netting to find a tree that is the perfect shape. Bringing down decorations from the loft, unwrapping them with all the memories of Christmas past. It’s something I always look forward to.
However this year I had a slight sense of intrepidation. My 15 month old toddler, who firmly believes the world is her own personal soft play, had been looking up at Christmas trees with saucer eyes and a look of determination. Talking to other friends with small children I found we all had the same question. How do you stop your toddler destroying your Christmas tree?
Here are the collected words of wisdom and advice I’ve received.
1. Attach it to the wall
One friend with a mini lumberjack in the making told me her only option is to pin it to the wall. Options include tying a ribbon to the top and pinning that to the wall or to tie string or a ribbon to the tree, knot it at the top and shut it in a door or window to add a bit of stability.
2. Pen it off
When my mother offered to lend me the large playpen she keeps at her house I wasn’t quite sure why. It turns out that this was her solution when I was younger. The Christmas tree would sit safely in a play pen while me and my sisters roamed around the outside, unable to reach the sparkly temptations hanging from the branches.
Image via Flickr
3. Top heavy
Accept that fact that your tree might look a bit top heavy and put most of the decorations at the top!
4. Invest in non-breakable decorations
One friend summed up the solution as “don’t buy glass baubles”. The fragile decorations might need to spend a few years in the loft, especially if they have sentimental value. Instead invest in knitted or felt decorations.
Image via Etsy
5. Don’t forget the water
I mentioned we were off to get a tree to a friend with two slightly older children and her one word of warning was not to forget the water. With a live tree you do need to keep it standing in some water. Which also acts as a toddler magnet (I mean who can resist sloshing around in a bucket of water placed on the floor in the living room, even if there is a tree trunk sitting in it). We’ve covered it so you can’t get access to the water. Many tree stands have the water pot integrated so as long as you don’t fill it to the brim little fingers won’t be able to have a splash about.
Instead of splashing out on a floor to ceiling tree, one friend decided this was the year to downscale. Her mini-tree sits on a sideboard out of reach from enquiring fingers. She still has that special real tree smell and a scaled down selection of her usual ornaments but there is no danger of them being pulled off and broken.
7. Lay off the chocolates
Hanging chocolates on the tree just makes it even more tempting to children. Reduce the appeal by having a bowl of Christmas chocolate baubles out of reach.
8. Buy them their own tree
Another friend with slightly older children is a firm believer in them having their own tree. Her two children share their own mini-tree with unbreakable decorations. They are allowed to play with this one as much as they like. They can also hang their home-made decorations on it saving the main tree from having to host toilet rolls and other less aesthetically pleasing creative work.
9. Skip the tree
A few friends have decided to skip having a tree this year. Their homes still look festive with fairly lights, paper chains and other decorations but with no large tree acting as a potential child unfriendly hazard. It also means there is more floor space for playing with all those new toys!
10. Hold firm
Small children learn quickly and so it might only be a few days that you have to keep repeating “no” before they realise that pulling things off the tree will get them in trouble. I’ve allowed my own daughter to touch as long as she is gentle with it and doesn’t try and tug it over. Within a few days the tree had lost its appeal and she was back trying to post all our possessions down the toilet instead.