It’s hard to say who needs more protection: your toddler or your tree

Whoever decided that the centerpiece of the festive season should be a full-sized tree decorated with exquisitely delicate ornaments and electric lights clearly didn’t have a toddler—especially since the first recorded trees were adorned with pieces of gingerbread, wafers, and apple. My toddler would have literally scaled the thing for a cookie crumb. That being said, it’s hard to give up a tradition you’ve kept for your entire life, even temporarily, to protect both your toddler and your tree. But there are plenty of ways to safeguard your tree while tiny humans are lurking, whether that means fortifying the base with fake presents, decorating strategically, or grabbing a toddler-proof Christmas tree alternative for the next few years.

1. Shatterproof Swap

This one’s a no-brainer. Pack up your heirloom ornaments for the foreseeable future and invest in some chic shatterproof options. Think of it as a chance to temporarily lean into a fun trend, like a monochromatic vibe or a brightly colored artificial tree with fewer ornaments (make it extra fun by letting your kids pick the color—if they can agree, ha).

2. Table That Tree

The good thing about toddlers is that they’re small, so simply placing a shorter tree up on a table is enough to keep those curious hands at bay. Make sure your platform is high enough that your tot can’t tug a branch and pull the whole tree down and heavy enough that they can’t topple the table itself.

3. Fortify Your Fir

The other great thing about toddlers is that they’re easily duped, so if you wrap a few big boxes in festive paper and position them around the base of your tree, they look like the other presents that are hands-off until Christmas morning. Throw some heavy stuff in the boxes to keep them stable (anything you have lying around your house works). If you’re not as Pinterest-y as this sounds (same), throw a baby gate around the tree. (This one is actually not ugly!)

4. Brace Yourself

To keep your evergreen firmly planted on the ground, grab a few bricks (you can wrap them all pretty if you like) and place them on the legs or base of your tree to really hold it in place. This means if your toddler somehow makes a break for it they won’t be able to tip it over.

5. Decorate Strategically

Mentally place your ornaments in a pyramid of preciousness, with the most cherished at the top and the least delicate (those “charming” homemade or felted ones) at the bottom. This way your tot’s curious little hands can only grab ornaments that won’t break or hurt them. You could also consider going all felt for a few years or only decorating the top of the tree.

6. Silence Isn’t Golden

Amazon's Haute Decor Jingle Bell Ornaments are an option for a toddler-proof Christmas tree

Any toddler parent knows that when the house is too quiet, disaster looms, so tie some jingle bells ornaments to the lower branches to give you a heads-up if your kid’s made contact with the tree. Bonus: they look quite festive.

7. Trim It Up

If the lower branches are the biggest liability, go ahead and chop them off.  Problem solved.

8. Ditch the Ornament Hooks

Check your older ornaments to see if any still hang with a sharp metal hook and update them with a loop of ribbon or ornament anchors.  That way, if your kiddo does get their hands on one of the shiny things hanging from the tree, you know they won’t accidentally poke themselves.

9. Try Something a Little Different

There are tons of tree options specifically made for toddlers if you’re OK giving up the greenery for a few years. Or rock two Christmas trees so your toddler has their own safe version to manhandle. Here are a few outside-the-box ideas:

Washi Christmas Tree

a toddler decorating a washi tape tree outline as an example of a toddler-proof christmas tree
Modern Parents Messy Kids

If you ever went through a washi tape phase, create a cute and harmless tree by taping the right shape to the wall (with no harm to your paint!). Kids can help decorate with ribbons of washi and round pieces of paper acting as ornaments. I know it’s not the same effect but at least you’ll be able to rest easy.

My First Christmas Tree

a photo of the Step2 My First Christmas Tree as an example of a toddler-proof christmas tree

If your house can somehow fit one more toy, add this Step 2 toddler Christmas tree to the mix. It’s the perfect size for your merry little munchkin, they can redecorate it as many times as they like, and there’s a fun train track going around the bottom so it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Felted Kids Christmas Tree 

a felt christmas tree attached to the wall for toddlers to decorate as an example of a toddler-proof christmas tree
Project Montessori

If space is tight but you’ve got a free wall, this Project Montessori felt tree will keep them busy while you work on the main event. The felt cutout is about 3-feet tall, perfect for 3-year-olds who want to decorate their tree again and again and again and again—and with 26 velcro ornaments, they’ll never run out of combinations.

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