How families adjust their decorations for little ones during the holiday-season

On a quiet evening with her husband, they opened boxes filled with boxes of glittery ornaments, fluffed out the tree branches, and sipped eggnog.

That’s how Jocelyn Lalonde describes the times she would spend with her husband, decorating the Christmas tree — the time before she had kids that is.

Now with two little ones running around, it’s not the quiet evening it once was.

Lalonde, a mother of two, says they now have to spend several nights putting together the Christmas tree — one night to arrange the branches of their artificial tree and another to decorate it.

Jenica Perez, another mother of two little boys, doesn’t know if she will even put up the tree decorations this year.

Keeping Hyrum, 3, out of the ornaments has been a challenge for the past couple of years — they resorted to putting a tree in a play-pen one year. And now with the addition of their 16-month-old son Caleb, Perez says she worries that the tree won’t stay intact.

A “tree chair” is a innovative way to decorate for the holidays. Photo Courtesy of Michael Interisano But she says that including her sons in this Christmas tradition is important.

“All my favourite childhood memories come from decorating the tree with my family and I think it’s important to involve the kids in that,” she says.

Lalonde relates, saying that including her five-year-old son Xavier and Nathalie, 2, is important.

And while they keep all their pre-children ornaments near the top and out of reach, the bottom half of the tree is dedicated to Xavier and Nathalie, says Lalonde. The kids love putting up the ornaments they have made at daycare or that their friends have given them, she says, and that’s what is important. Even if they end up clumped together.

She says, “It’s not about being perfect. It’s about representing the stage our family is at.”

Stylish, yet, kid-friendly

Maybe you won’t have the perfect tree, but interior designer Monika Siebert says there is a lot you can do to still have a stylish but kid-friendly Christmas tree.

“One way is to purchase a modern tree topper,” she says. The kids can’t reach it and it is a great way to reflect your design style, she adds.

She suggests buying inexpensive, coloured bulbs, like festive red and green ones and spreading them over the tree. Then she says you can fill in the rest of the tree with the kids’ homemade ornaments. Doing so will give the tree a more cohesive look and a colour scheme that can be carried throughout the home, she says.

Siebert also says a great way to keep the kids involved is by getting them their own tree. Head to a Christmas tree lot or buy a small artificial one, then let the children have free rein with their hand-crafted ornaments or dollar-store finds, she says.

Another crafty idea Siebert shares is a “tree chair.” This is more suited to older kids but can definitely be a great way for them to be more involved in Christmas decorating, she says.

Purchase some garland and wrap it tightly around a dining room chair, says Siebert. Then add a few Christmas decorations — bulbs, ribbon or even a partridge — and you’ve got innovative holiday décor, says the interior designer.

But Siebert says, “It really depends on the lifestyle and design style of the family.” Ultimately, decorating choices are based on the family’s needs, she says.

While families may have to make some sacrifices when it comes to getting that catalogue-worthy tree, Perez says that should not be the focus.

“There has to be a transition. I think it’s part of being a parent. But you shouldn’t focus on what you have to sacrifice. Think about it in terms of being grateful.”

Lalonde has also learned that it’s not all about perfection. She says, “What I realized is that Christmas is about family. It’s not about the perfect Christmas tree.”

djolie@cjournal.ca