heads up – there is a giveaway at the end of this post. Carry on 🙂
When my nephew Cole was little, he could pop Christmas ornaments so fast it was like fourth of July. He would waddle over to the tree, pinch an ornament between his thumb and tiny toddler fingers and POP! just enough pressure to make to shatter into a gazillion foot-slicing pieces. And then came the giggles! Oh the giggles! And with four little ones, I completely understand the need for child-friendly christmas ornaments. The tree is like catnip to these little fingers….we put glowing lights and miniature items all over this interesting new living room feature right at their level….of course they are gonna wanna touch. I mean…I want to touch and I’m a few years ahead of them 🙂
So I thought it would be fun to do a little round up of some of my favorite child-friendly ornaments I’ve done in years past and a couple new ones for the current tree! These ornaments of course could be destroyed by kids….my little ones could probably open a can of mandarin oranges without tools if inclined…so they won’t be child-proof. BUT the good news is – they aren’t glass and you won’t need to worry about them shattering 🙂 Break out the hot glue guns ladies! This is gonna be fun!
I loved my green and blue tree where I used yarn to make oversized string orbs. These balls of yarn were the perfect addition to my tree to make it interesting and fun! You can read this old post to see the complete DIY. I also used the yarn to make the candy cane inspired topper which turned out to look more like a crown settled on the tip top.
In the past, I always try to give the boys a handmade ornament….this one was created for Will and it was very easy to cut out and sew together. All I needed was a couple sheets of felt, some colored threads and needle, a little fiberfill and scissors. First you sew the initial (cut it out free hand for a homemade look or you can use a crafting cutting machine if you really want perfection!) onto your first circle. I then sewed that circle to the other circle using a tight whip stitch and left just enough unsewed to stuff it full. Once it was a nice little pillow of sorts, I finished my sewing and attached the loop on top with a couple stitches. It was time intensive for such a small guy but these are the ornaments that I always remember the best.
PLASTIC SHATTERPROOF ORNAMENTS
This goes without saying, but put the glass babies away. They have great options for shatterproof plastic ornaments and not all of them look cheap. I always say to have at least three different types of ball ornaments on the tree to keep things feeling fresh. Try to avoid ones that have a noticeable seam….and change the wire hooks to ribbon to make them even more child friendly.
My mom (a music teacher) ornamented her tree with musical instruments on year and it not only worked her life’s theme but it was virtually indestructible. Other metal ornaments could work as well….try DIYing something or
A super simple garland is pompom ribbon. It is soft and simple and can be used for future craft projects! The best part is that it reminds me of popcorn which gives it a vintage feel while still being super simple and perfect for toddlers this Christmas…without the choking hazard 🙂
A highly impactful element in a lot of my trees is the use of embroidery hoops to imitate ornaments. I love reusing them year after year. I wrapped the outer rings in red and white fabric strips before inserting various fabrics that go with that years tree. The effect is oversized ornaments that are completely kid friendly!
TISSUE PAPER BALLS
One of the cheapest large ornaments you can make are these tissue paper balls! The options are endless! You can score simple tissue paper at any dollar store or party supply store and make them to the perfect size and in the perfect color! Mine are four sheets cut to 8 inches wide and gathered with craft wire. Then I poofed them into my desired shape and stuffed them into the tree 🙂
For the longest time, the boys decided the tree’s theme for Christmas….that meant we had some pretty interesting themes. The year that we got “orange and blue and alphabet”, I am pretty sure I should have backed down from the challenge. But I carried on with the alphabet tree by cutting out letters from cardboard and painting them baby blue. The effect was not only cute but it was completely kid friendly. You could avoid the color scheme by making it red or green or gold for a holiday feel.
FABRIC SWATCH GARLAND
Fabric garland is so easy to make and I’m fairly certain that anyone can do it with a little practice. I used five different fabrics – I had about a yard of each and used a little bit of each to cut out small squares that were roughly the same size. Then I ran them through my sewing machine, overlapping the edges just a little so that my machine wouldn’t stop. It became this festive and personalized garland perfect for any event….including Christmas.
Poof balls are super easy to make with yarn and the kids won’t hurt themselves with it! They are simple to make….simply wrap a bunch of yarn loosely around your hand and then slowly slip the entire group of yarn loops off your hand, tie off the middle of the tightly with a 10 inch length of yarn and cut the ends of the loop to make the poof. You can trim it into a ball shape with some sharp scissors and make your tree super fun!
Picks are very easy to attach to a tree….literally just buy them at a store and stuff them directly into the tree. Usually the pick stick is long enough to hold it in! The best part is that they are cheap ($1 each at the dollar store!) and they are a little larger than a normal ornament so it can give the tree dimension and interest. Plus…most of these are non-breakable! Parent win!
This should be a non-mention because DUH….but post-pregnancy-brain is real y’all. My kid is 1.5 and I wrote 2012 on a check the other day. A CHECK. Who am I? But if you are still living under a rock with me with a scrunchie in your hair and tight rolled mom jeans, you should remember that ribbon is your tree’s BFF.
One of my mom’s signature moves when it comes to her Christmas trees is using pipe cleaners to make simple and swirly ornaments. She simply wraps it around a finger, pulls it off, and then slips one end over a branch. To make it feel organic, she pinches the end that is on the needles and pulls the end pointing out and it elongates it and gives it the perfect twist!
PING PONG BALLS
One of the best investments I ever made (and admittedly one of the most annoying!) is the ping pong balls. I ordered a huge bag of cheap ones on Amazon three Christmas’s ago and used an X-acto knife to cut a small X on each one. Then I slip it over the bulbs on regular string lights to give the tree a really fun look. They are magnets to small hands but I’m not afraid of anyone getting hurt….just a ton of ping-pong balls to put back later 🙂
Branches, sticks, grapevine wreaths, cattails, pussywillow branches, pine cones, even vines are all great alternatives to glass ornaments and are very kid friendly. Just don’t pick a natural element like poison ivy. Trust me…it could ruin everyone’s holidays 🙂
TOYS AS ORNAMENTS
Small toys make great ornaments and with a coat of spray paint, they are appealing to adults too! I modified these dollar store elk figurines (are they elk? I am a little rusty with deer related animals.) and they hang proudly on my tree and were much more affordable than similarly sold versions in stores. (I’m posting this DIY craft over the weekend so check back to see how you can make them!). Consider using other toys or children’s items into ornaments…love the idea of turning the 2.7 million legos in our house into ornaments one day!
Hope you guys can use some of these suggestions to make your own toddler-friendly trees a little more fun this christmas season!
UPDATE! Making your home a little more kid-safe doesn’t stop there! I just got word that TORCH (that wireless wi-fi router that can make all your devices kid-friendly and blocks the unwanted adult material and limits their access online) is offering up a christmas present for one family to win! And if you already have it in your own home, make sure to enter so that you can gift it to a friend. Now let’s get to that giveaway…
- PRIZE: (1) One Torch wireless router (a $249 value)
- NUMBER OF WINNERS : (1) ONE
- TO ENTER : Enter by going to TORCH (CLICK HERE) and enter email and comment on how you keep your kid safe during the holidays!
- PRIZE SHIPS : Continental U.S.
- NITTY GRITTY : This giveaway closes on Friday, December 16th at 11:59pm EDT. By entering your email on the TORCH site, you are entering the giveaway. Only one contest entry per email address. The winner will be chosen by TORCH and will be announced in an update to this post the following Friday morning. We will email the winner directly, so please make sure you use your regularly checked email address.
Such a great giveaway! We monitor our kids web/texts/tv by setting parental controls but this sounds much better.
Cheri bynum says
I keep my kids safe by limiting their time on the internet
Shelly Mathes says
Hi Katie, such talent on all of these decorated trees. Would be hard to pick the best tree, I love all of them! Thank you so much for sharing.
My kids love helping me bake cookies this time of year, but I keep them out of the kitchen during the actual oven time – I can just see my two-year-old diving head first into the oven (she is a daredevil!).
I keep my kiddos safe by making sure our plugs are out of reach! Christmas means lights in our house therefore theres more plugs 🙂
A whole bunch of easy peasy ideas. Love your mom’s swirly pipe cleaners. I could do that without even getting out a glue gun or threading my sewing machine. And this ti e of year that’s a big win in my book.
Nicole O says
Simple twinkle lights are my favorite, nothing to pull or break. Also candy canes are so fun and easy! I have heard a lot of people put breakable things up higher and use popcorn garlands, felts etc towards the bottom
Anne Loyd says
I keep my kids safe during the holidays by teaching them to be safe so they are prepared with they are by themselves.
Rachel Irwin says
We’re keeping our kids, puppy, and my sanity safe this year by having our Christmas tree upstairs! We don’t allow the kids or the puppy upstairs unsupervised, so this will help immensely with my sanity this year 🙂
I keep my home safe by (almost always) turning the Christmas tree lights off when I leave the house!
We keep our kiddos safe by seriously kid proofing – the tree lights are all LED so no worrying about fires and we buy an ornament for every year since we got married, so we don’t have many breakable ornaments, or really many ornaments at all, YET! =) Thanks for the chance to win!
I’ve been lucky I guess, none of my 4 girls (ages 5 months, 3, 6, 8) have ever really messed with the Christmas tree once it is put up.
I keep my son safe by securing the tree to the wall. He pulled it down our first year and we’re not risking that again!
Mine is still little, so its mostly about who has “the baby.” If I’m watching him, I have “the baby.” If I am passing him off to someone else, I make sure that they understand they are now in charge of “the baby.” You are in charge of the baby until you pass him off and tell that person they are in charge of “the baby.” Hopefully that takes care of the “Well, I thought YOU were watching him!” excuse… especially since he is mobile and into everything!
I love these ideas! I need to make some of them happen 🙂
Safety first! We don’t leave food items out at the holidays, to avoid allergy/choking hazards. Merry Christmas!
Kim f says
Honestly never really did anything differently other than be very vigilant when they were near the tree.
Hannah C. says
awesome giveaway! and cute ornament ideas! our little girl is 19 months now, and she has loved pulling all the shatterproof ornaments off our tree this year. i was hesitant to buy them because i thought they would look cheap. but, like you said, there are some really good options out there now. i’m so glad we invested in some this year – between our daughter and hardwood floors, i don’t even want to think about all the possible shattered ornaments we could have had this year!
Baby Gates!!! My 10mo daughter is ON. THE. MOVE. and we finally found ones that work in our 3 story townhouse!! She’s creeping towards an age to have electronics (as a special treat – I like your date night idea). So let’s keep her safe!!! xo
OMG…you are lucky. Is that a girl thing or just a you-got-the-luckiest-gig-ever thing 🙂 My kids are like magnetically drawn to it.
xo – kb
My kids are older but we use the extension cords with the push button on/off switch so that they are easily accessible to turn on and off so the lights don’t get left on too long or when we are not there.
Megan CC says
Thankfully my littles are still really little, so internet safety hasn’t been a concern yet. But we’re adding 3 pre-teen/teens to our house soon and that will be a big deal for us.
I don’t have kids, but entered the contest to win the router for my cousins kids.
Stacy Mitchell says
We keep the kiddos safe by keeping all the plugs for the decorations of out sight and sealed with electrical tape!
We keep the tree in the family room – so far the baby can’t crawl into that room yet – tree is safe, baby is safe
We are evil parents who put a train that my one year old is terrified of around the tree. We actually bought it just for him but he hates it, but it keeps him away from the ornaments and presents :).
Kati @ Wanderlusting By Design says
A. I am really digging the pipe cleaner loops! How fun are those?! I can see some white and gold ones on my tree (I am such a sucker for a traditional white/gold/silver tree) but those just make a great whimsical texture.
B. Kids safe for the holidays… Hmm, this is a tough one. But we do have a lot of fires around this season and hot cocoa (warm cocoa!) so we make sure to teach our kids kitchen and campfire boundaries since they are so little. Other than that, every ornament on our very simple tree is a plastic one from hobby lobby bought the day after Christmas last year on super sale. That way we’re keeping them AND their college funds safe! haha!
Great giveaway and great trees Katie B!
Our tree is in the corner of the room, nestled between the couch and media stand so it’s likely they can knock it over!
Jenny Hulway says
We’ll be wearing boots, gloves and hats to keep warm and safe outside this winter!
I keep my kiddos safe during the holidays by not letting them eat all my delicious bakings! (I may or may not hide in the pantry and endings myself instead!) Bwahahaha. Rotting teeth are no good! 😉 (And besides…..it’s hard enough to get them to brush twice a day)
I keep my boys safe by using non-breakable ornaments on the Christmas tree. We also turn all lights and any other electronic decoration off at night and when we leave the house. Can never be too safe!!
I keep them safe by putting all the breakable ornaments at least 4 feet off the ground and out of reach!
I have to keep all of our breakable snow village items up on the mantel to keep their little fingers safe.
My kids are older (12,9 & 3) so it’s so much easier than in years past. Honestly they were never really a problem with the decor it is always the CATS! They love the lights and dangling things throughout the house 😉
Sandra P says
Since becoming parents we have always done non breakable ornaments. Now that they are getting older and with access to the internet I’m loving the idea of that router.
Marykate Ronan says
We put our tree behind a baby gate this year to keep our 15 month old safe!
Wonderful post as usual, but the ads at the end of the page is driving me batty. Help!!
Sarah Kind says
My nickname among family and friends is Safety Sarah. I am ALWAYS one step ahead watching for danger. (Seriously. My husband says I need to be a Safety coordinator in a factory somewhere.) Our home has been an unending construction site for the last 10 years, as my hubby is a mechanical contractor by day and Daddy by night, with a side project always in the works, and not one injury. That’s a Safety record to be proud of 😉
One area I have no clue on how to protect my boys is the Internet. This would be a great item to receive for myself and our family. The internet can open so many inappropriate things for my boys and this item might be the key to my Safety-mindedness being put to ease. And at the same time, give my boys “freedom without Mom’s watchful eye” while I would still be guiding their usage.
What a great idea and an even better giveaway. Thanks so much!
Cool ideas! I hear ya on the kids wanting to touch the tree all.the.time. Just FYI, ping pong balls are highly flammable and shouldn’t be used near a heat source such as a bulb: http://chemistry.about.com/od/funfireprojects/f/Why-Do-Ping-Pong-Balls-Burn.htm
Alison Gentry says
I’m just planning on wrapping my kids up in the insane amount of bubble wrap that seems to come with our online purchases – that should keep them safe! 😉
Love all your trees esp the natural elements one – so so pretty!
I keep our kiddos by being super vigilant in the kitchen. In December the kitchen is the place to be in our house, so when we’re cooking I move everything to the back burners (out of reach) and turn the handles towards the back so they can’t be easily grabbed. I also put all knives and sharp objects in high cabinets.
whoops – i meant to say – I keep our kiddos safe!
Is there a certain ad that you are seeing that is annoying? I don’t see the same ones as others so I never know what is popping up down there. Let me know what ad it is and I can send it along to have it blocked. Thanks!
xo – kb
We have tested ours and they don’t combust…maybe these are the old ones you are talking about?
xo – kb
Misty Becken says
Limiting you tube access!
Shéy Hayden says
One year we had to put one of those bendable playyards around the tree, because our two year old like the sound of the smashing ornaments.
I keep the kids safe by doing my best to be present. Be involved with their lives, be friends with their friends, keep computers in an open area and so forth.
Meg S says
No candles on the tree! Wish this could be done safely, but alas…
Katie, you are the Christmas tree MASTER! I’m always in awe of how gorgeous yours are!!
Minimal decorating while they are toddlers:)
Kim Shelton says
Awesome ideas! I’m a new home and already have to make a list of keeping it safe but still very pretty! Right now keeping my baby safe by child proofing the whole house. Never underestimate candles and sharp edges! Thanks for sharing
monique henderson says
I discuss why we should be safe and what may occur if we are not. I love finding stories in the news and sharing it with him because then I am not the person who is always nagging. I am showing him why i say to do these things.
With six kiddos (and #7 due on Valentine’s Day), child safety is of utmost importance in our home. One way we keep our children safe during holiday baking (and throughout the year) is to use the back stove burners if possible and to always keep handles pointed in. Thanks for the giveaway and all of the great ornament ideas!
Love all of your beautiful decorations! My girls are a little older than your kids (10, 12, 14 and 15) so keeping them safe is really about protecting them from things they might accidentally see on the internet. The Torch router seems like a great way to protect our kids!
We are skipping the magazine-ready look for our holiday decorations and put a baby gate/fence around the tree. Now my 14 month old can’t destroy any ornaments (all the breakable ones are up high anyway) and he can hang on to the fence and get a closer look at the tree without tipping anything. But in other areas of our life (outside, around cords or ovens, etc.) we keep him safe by teaching him to obey commands like “don’t touch” or “don’t eat that rock”. If we block off too much, he can’t learn how to stay safe in the real world. 🙂
When my kids were little, we put the non breakable ornaments down low and the breakables up high.
Kelly Brewer says
We are using a lot of battery operated lights, and only those in their room. I don’t feel like I have to worry that they will get left on or played with when I am not right there as much.
Jessica R says
Keep the kids safe by keeping plugs covered and breakable things as out of reach as I can for a 6,4 and 2 year old!
Heather Phillips says
Keep kids safe for the holidays by watching for those plug covers. We take them on and off a whole lot more during the holidays and I keep an eye out for keeping them covered when not in use. I have a 20 month old and 4 year old.
We have a 5-ft tree that we keep on a table completely out of reach! No ornaments have bit the dust since we started using this method 🙂
Kassandra Garza says
Definitely keeping the breakable ornaments and decorations in storage until our 4 and 2 year old are bigger! Theyre like little bigs and a bright light when it comes to our tree! On a different note we are working with our teenager (14) on both financial and cyber safety this holidays- being vigilant about scams and such that seem to multiply during the holidays!