At the start of this year’s Christmas season (aka right after Thanksgiving) I wrote a post looking through some tips and strategies for helping Christmas trees get along with toddlers (or babies or small children), and we ended up taking some of those ideas into consideration when putting together this year’s Christmas tree. So for today’s post, I wanted to share a bit about what we did and how it worked out, which I’ll start off with a sneak peek of the end result:
The first thing that may jump out about this is that the Christmas tree looks pretty normal — at least in the sense that it isn’t barricaded by a child gate, and that it isn’t tiny and up out of reach, and that it appears to have the standard assortment of lights and ornaments. But beneath the sparkly normal-looking surface, this Christmas tree actually has some secret baby-proof features.
For instance, it’s super stable… Since even though our own cat is too fat and lazy to even jump a child gate, and didn’t give us any trouble with our Christmas tree last year, I’ve heard of other people’s (less lazy) cats toppling over full-size Christmas trees… and if a cat could do it, I’d imagine a toddler could do the same if they yanked on it the right way. So we picked up these big bricks from Lowe’s for $1.38 apiece and wrapped them like Christmas presents:
They each got a few layers of plain brown paper in addition to the wrapping paper, so the edges were pretty blunt and not brick-like at all by the end, and then they just sat inconspicuously on the edges of our Christmas tree stand looking like presents. With these in place, I’m pretty sure the baby and the cat could have climbed the Christmas tree like a jungle gym* all day long without making it even wobble too badly, much less topple over — which is no doubt a bit of overkill, but it made for one less thing to worry about.
*Not that we would want to encourage such behavior of course.
Then there were the ornaments. Last year, we picked up two large packages of inexpensive shatterproof ornaments, so we used those again, and this year we added to our collection with a few additional packs of shatterproof ornaments in various sizes. For securing them to the tree, we wanted to avoid using the pointy little ornament hooks, so I picked up some ribbon and tried making some bows instead:
I think the bows ended up looking pretty nice, and we could loop them around the branch in such a way that the ornaments couldn’t be easily pulled off. The only drawback to using ribbon was how much of it you need — I was a little surprised to go through an entire spool of ribbon and only have finished three or four ornaments like the one shown above. So we ended up switching to some spools of cord we found in the Christmas aisle, which was a lot more reasonable in terms of the number of ornaments you could do with it. Here’s an example of one of the ornaments secured to the tree using the cord:
And lastly in the baby-proofing department, we decided to try out the jingle bell trick (as discussed in this post) for creating a built in “alarm” in case anyone tried to sneakily bother the Christmas tree. So we picked up a package of cute little red and green bells and fastened them to the bottom branches of the tree:
Out of all the baby-proofing strategies we tried this year, this one was probably the most useless, since jiggling the branches alone wasn’t really enough to get any sound out of the little bells, you had to shake them a little more forcefully. (This may have been my fault for picking out the cute bell-shaped ones instead of the round sleigh bell variety.) And of all the things on the tree, these little bells turned out to be most easily mistaken for cat toys and/or baby toys, so in that sense the strategy may have even backfired a little.
But overall, we had a really easy time with Lillian and the Christmas tree this year. She would look at it, and point at it, and go over and ring the little bells:
But rather than spending hours in fascination trying to pull things off of the Christmas tree, she actually seemed to get bored of it pretty quickly. Here’s a picture of her blurring away to go play with something else after all of about two minutes:
So after all that, we could probably have gotten away with a lot less baby-proofing, or maybe even none at all, but it was fun playing around with strategies for turning the Christmas tree into an impenetrable fortress defended against the most determined of babies. Though of course at the end of the day, nothing beats good old-fashioned parental supervision (hence the “mostly” in the post title — I don’t think anything is ever 100% baby-proof.)
Anyway, here are a couple other quick facts about this year’s Christmas tree:
- We went with a Fraser Fir this year, which was a bit of a splurge that cost around double last year’s $17 white pine, but the short needles were nice and soft (“not feeling like pointy murder” as Joe so artfully put it) and overall the tree had a great full look to it.
- The Christmas tree shopping happened on the weekend after Thanksgiving, but it took us almost two weeks after that to get it fully decorated — it seems like we have so little time for anything these days!
And finally, here’s a view of our Christmas tree at the height of its glory (i.e. before it got all dry and droopy because we didn’t water it for ten or so days):
It’s sort of funny how the tree in the above photo is in the same position by the fireplace as last year, with the same lighting, except it seems to have about a thousand times more lights and ornaments — check out this post from last year to really see the difference. Just looking at the comparison makes me want to think up ways to make next year’s tree look even more different, just to continue the ongoing evolution of Christmas trees year after year.
Anyway, that’s the scoop on our Christmas tree this year! What about you guys — any interesting Christmas decorating adventures, baby-related or otherwise? Or any suggestions for what to add, change, or remove from the tree for next year? Feel free to share your thoughts or suggestions in the comments!