Please Don’t Tear The Tree Down: Making Holiday Magic with Toddlers


Ditch the stress this year and make some holiday magic with your toddlers.


Toddler /ˈtäd-lər/noun: a young child who is just beginning to walk and has a deep fondness for tormenting holiday decor.


Squishy, cute, and cuddly with angelic eyes, toddlers are in the greatest years of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional growth. A growth I’m astonished by, but which leaves our dog running, older brother plugging his ears, and our beloved tree begging to be stored back in the basement. Add in December festivities, and the toddlin’ is amplified. So, what’s a holiday loving mama to do?

Photo cred: Caitlin Ladd, @caitlinparkerladd
If you’re like me, you’ve probably googled every deterrent and read through threads on this very subject in every mom group. My conclusion is to go old school. If you can’t beat em, join em. So, instead of building barricades, ditching the decor, or avoiding fun at all costs, I’ve decided that we’re going to embrace these years and find ways to “lean in” to the torment. 

Here are my tips for having a “sort-of” in-tact tree by Christmas Eve and still enjoying the magic of the season:


Ditch the Felt Tree

Ah, the beloved and aspirational felt tree. So cute and looks great in Instagram photos, but in real life, our own version of ‘Wreck-it Ralph‘ demolished it in a matter of hours. Instead, we opted for a smaller version of our tree, giving him and his brother free range to decorate (and destroy) as they please. With ornaments they’ve chosen and the freedom to make it their own, THEIR tree provides the fun, so the bigger one doesn’t seem like much fun at all.



Safety First 

Pare down the tinsel, secure the tree, and add a tree collar. Box up the glass ornaments and invest in shatterproof ones that will last the entire season. Start about 3-4 inches up the tree to keep the ornaments out of eyesight, keeping distractions low. Not the most ideal way to decorate, but it keeps your tree still sparkling and upright.


Let There be Comfort

Even with all the cute photo ideas on Pinterest, something about a dressed up toddler is just not conducive to a smooth holiday season. Not sure about you, but I’m in my best mood when my jeans fit, and I can move around. Do yourself a favor and err on the side of comfort. So, instead of stuffing them into a cute elf outfit (well, at least not the whole day), remember a happy toddler makes a happy mama, which in turn, makes for a happy holiday.

Photo Cred: Viriginia McMurdo, @virginiamcmurdo


Get Outside

One beneficial thing about COVID (if you can find the silver lining) is that socially distant events are low capacity and open enough to let littles get up-close and personal with lights, all while giving them space to run around should they need a stroller-break. Take advantage (with precautions) of the opportunity for them to experience the holiday season in such a unique way and lavish in their language development as they “ooh” and “ahh.”


Mama’s Big Helper

Even with the simplest tasks, a toddler loves to help, feel, see, or touch something new. New tasks like baking can help build coordination, strengthening both fine and gross motor skills. Have them mix “batter” with a spoon or play alongside with a small bowl of water. Keep the wheels turning on ways to keep them busy as you continue family traditions.




Meltdowns are Inevitable

Regardless if you follow any list step by step, just remember tantrums are bound to happen. Keep your cool, because at the end of the day, toddlers are going toddler.


Wishing you all the happiest of holidays!