Before I became a mother, I always envisioned what Christmas with kids would be like. I had romantic notions of transforming my house each year into a magazine-worthy winter wonderland. My angelic future children would be dazzled by handmade magnolia garlands and charmed by the perfect miniature train set that ran in circles around our twelve-foot Fraser Fir.
In my naiveté, I assumed Christmas with kids would be just like Christmas without them, only much more fun and magical.
And in many ways, it is. It’s adorable to see your children shimmy with excitement on Christmas morning at the sight of presents under the tree. Santa Claus comes back into your life in a big way. Plus, you have an excuse to bake (and eat) all of the holiday cookies.
But Christmas with kids, especially toddlers, also poses its fair share of logistical challenges.
A perfectly adorned Christmas tree can easily turn into a pine scented massacre when toddlers and babies enter the picture. With two kids under three years old, I’ve come up with a foolproof game plan for how to decorate with toddlers.
Just follow these simple steps for Christmas decorating with kids and your house will be filled with festive, child-friendly joy in no time!
1. Pour yourself a glass of wine/special eggnog.
This step is important. Don’t ask why. You’ll understand soon enough.
2. Haul all of your Christmas decorations out of the attic/basement/crawl space.
Watch in helpless silence with your hands full of precious Christmas ornaments while your children make snow angels in the mounds of old baby clothes they’ve pulled from storage bins and strewn around the floor.
3. Enact a desperate game of “hostage negotiator” when your child somehow manages to get his hands on the baby Jesus figurine from your incredibly fragile, incredibly beloved Nativity set.
Beg, plead, and offer all the applesauce pouches money can buy.
4. Super glue baby Jesus’ head back on while muttering profanities under your breath.
Turn up the volume on the Christmas music station so your children don’t hear you.
5. Decide that this year, you will teach your children what “no touching” means and they will respect the rule of law – as soon as they wake up from their nap.
During said nap time, set up an elaborate (and fragile) Christmas village on a low table. Meticulously stage tiny people and light poles and miniature Christmas trees. Sprinkle fake snow all over the village. Stand back and admire your work.
6. Thirty minutes after your children wake up (and approximately 113 “no touching”s later), uproot the entire village and move it to the highest surface in your home.
Spend the next several weeks vacuuming up fake snow.
7. Pull out the box of vintage glass Christmas ornaments you were given as a wedding present and envision how lovely they will look carefully placed around your Christmas tree.
Turn around just in time to see your toddler yank the antlers off a gold paper mache reindeer.
8. Put all of your fancy glass ornaments back in storage. Possibly until your children go to college.
Go to the dollar store and buy a giant package of cheap, shatter proof gold and silver balls.
9. Decorate the top half of your tree only.
Yes, it looks ridiculous. Accept it and move on.
10. Turn on a Christmas movie, light the fire, put your feet up, and admire your hard work.
Even though half of your decorations are placed so high literally no one can see them, and the other half are held together by duct tape, the house still looks magical. Deranged. But also, magical.
11. As soon as you’re fully relaxed, watch in horrified slow motion as your child and dog somehow team up together to pull the Christmas tree down, scattering ornaments to every corner of your house.
There’s nothing more to be said about this.
12. Pour another glass of wine.
Take a deep breath and accept that Christmas with kids will be much more exhausting for the foreseeable future – but also filled with the magic, wonder, and joy that only children can bring.
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