Celebrating the holidays with a toddler, without losing your mind
The holidays are a wonderful time of year. Lights twinkle in the snow, carols are in the air and it's a fabulous excuse to cover your house in all kinds of sparkly, shiny things without having to really justify it.
Problem is, a lot of those sparkly, shiny things are breakable...and toddlers are handsy.
I wasn't ready to give up my decorations just because G might pull on them, but, I also didn't want to spend the next month freaking out every time he got within 3 feet of the tree.
There are exactly 5 breakable items on that tree. One is the star. The other 4 are quail eggs that the Mr. blew out for me and we turned into ornaments. They are at the very tippy top. The only way they will break is if the entire tree comes down.
So how do I toddler proof my decorating?
Give yourself a lot of time. Little ones love to help, but they aren't exactly the most expedient of helpers. If you try and do it all quickly your critter is going to be frustrated and grouchy, and so are you.
I use an artificial tree (I always had a real tree growing up, but I found out I'm allergic to pine) and so I give myself an entire day to simply set the tree up and fluff the branches out.
Give your breakable ornaments a break. 3/4 of my ornaments are staying in the box this year. Anything glass or especially fragile just isn't worth my sanity. Between worrying about G breaking them and worrying about G cutting himself on the inevitably broken glass, I'd have been a mess. Glass ornaments don't go bad, so I'm saving them for when he's five and we can both appreciate them.
Find substitutions. Without most of my ornaments up, my tree looked awfully bare. Wood, fabric, paper and wire ornaments are wonderful, but I don't have a ton of them, and they typically lack shine. A great substitution I've found is putting ornament hooks on jingle bells. They catch the light just like an ornament would, but won't break if they get knocked down. Ribbons are a great, inexpensive garland alternative and are really easy to find this time of year.
Work with what you've got. Most people's homes have at least a few gifts kicking around during the holiday season. Adults have a hard enough time not peeking at gifts that are left under a tree. Leaving wrapped presents where a toddler can find them is just asking to see their best impression of a hamster shredding things. Instead of putting them down on the floor (where they don't make a whole lot of an impression anyhow) put them somewhere high. A mantle or the top of an armoire are great places to create a display that moves the eye upward (making your ceilings feel higher) and keeps gifts out of sticky little hands.
...and if all else fails, there's always this option:
Good luck everybody and Happy Holidays!