The Blands

Toddlers and Christmas

Read Rachael's top tips on how to prepare for Christmas when there's a destructive 14-month-old knocking about!

Ah Christmas, such a wonderful time of year to be parents. Getting to choose lovely gifts for your little ones that will be instantly discarded in favour of playing with the empty box. Fantastic food – all of which is sure to be rejected by a fussy toddler. And of course the centre piece of Christmas in our house, the tree! What better scene could there be than watching your toddler’s face light up as they gaze in wonder at your tastefully decorated tree, the twinkling lights reflected in their little eyes… eyes that are looking at that tree and thinking ‘what’s the best way of ripping all those decorations off so I can break them over the dog's head?’.

Yep, decorating your house with a destructive 14-month-old knocking about is a challenge! Here are some of the quandaries and potential answers we’ve come across while working out how and where to place our favourite Christmas decorations.

Tree or no tree

This is the big one. There’s a very high probability it’s going to end up hitting the deck at some point, so would it be better just to forego the tree altogether for a year or two?  Only the most hardened of Christmas Grinch’s will go for this option surely. Christmas without a tree is like Christmas without turkey. It just won’t happen in our house. So we’re going to risk it, keep an eye on Fred as much as we can and hope for the best.

Real or fake

So you’ve decided to see how much damage one small child can do to a tree. Next decision is - is it better to go real or fake? As we mentioned here last year, Steve loves a real tree and has totally converted me. There’s nothing better than the smell of pine filling your living room on Christmas day. But along with a pine tree come pine needles all over the floor. With Freddie still prone to putting things found on the carpet straight into his mouth, are we running the risk of his tongue ending up like a pin cushion?! The thought of going back to a sad looking fake tree is also pretty bad.

Hands off

As you might have guessed, the plan is to get the real tree, but keep Fred well away.  After a bit of googling for ways of doing this we found you can buy ‘room dividers’ which are basically really long baby gates.  This is a very simple plan if you live in a massive house with nice rectangular rooms.  But if, like us, your living room is on the smaller side, awkwardly shaped and filled to the brim with furniture and toys it becomes trickier.  After assessing all the possible options we think we’ve come up with a plan that ‘only’ involves moving the snuggler, sofa AND coffee table.  We are REALLY keen to have this tree!

To bauble or not to bauble

As careful as you are with closing baby gates it’s inevitable that at some point Freddie is going to get his grubby little mitts on the tree. We’ve heard tales of parents only decorating the upper sections of the tree to keep the baubles out of grasping little hands. The other thing to think about is how breakable are your decorations and how much do you value them?! This may not be the time to lovingly hang your family heirlooms on the branches. And glass baubles are probably a no-no for now. So at Chez Bland we’ll be overloading on the sparkly pine cones and anything wooden or padded! Tinsel is probably a red rag to a bull as well so it’s going to be quite a minimalist look this year.

Where does everthing else go? 

The ‘fort-tree’ plan is in place. We have protected our battlements there. But where does that leave the other decorations?  We normally hang a garland on the fireplace, but after sitting next to one at a Christmas market the other day and watching Freddie methodically strip it of its little plastic berries, we’ve decided it’s probably going to have to be mothballed this year.

Then there are the cards. As all surfaces at toddler height have been clear for some time, filling them with Christmas cards would seem foolish. Fred is a bit like a dog when he gets hold of any paper or cardboard, it ends up in shreds on the floor. He can now reach the mantelpiece – our last bastion on which to place precious items. So unless we get the chance to put them on strings high up on the walls (unlikely!) they’re going to have to go into a box to be flicked through when we need some Christmas cheer!

So our battle plan is in place - wish us luck.  Let’s hope both toddler and tree survive the festive season intact!