The bustling holiday season is upon us, bringing with it the joy of transforming family homes into festive wonderlands. Dazzling lights, sparkly tinsel, fancy dishes, and children’s laughter are all part of the holiday magic — but young children and holiday decorations aren’t always a perfect mix. Worry not, armed with a few safety precautions, decorating alternatives, and a dash of creativity, parents can create fun, worry and hazard-free holiday homes for all to enjoy.
Decorate a Safe, Festive Christmas Tree
As the centerpiece of the holiday home, Christmas tree safety is a primary concern. The tree should be set in a stable stand and can be further secured by tying twine or fishing line from the upper trunk to a hook on the closest wall. Tree needles can be a choking hazard for small children, so check a live tree closely for shedding needles, try to keep the floor clear of dropped needles, and remember to keep the tree well watered to retain freshness.
Traditional Christmas tree decorations can pose child safety risks, but parents have several safer decorating options. If using lights, wrap strands close to the trunk, well away from little hands. Pre-lit artificial trees usually have well-secured lights, so these are a safer choice if going artificial. Garlands and ribbon streamers, too, should be placed out of reach of small children because of choking and tree-tipping dangers. Fragile glass balls and ornaments, including any with small pieces, can be securely tied high on the tree, but avoid using tinsel icicles and hook-style ornament hangers around small children, as both pose choking risks.
Deck the Hall… Safely!
Swags of boughs, garlands and lights can be placed well out of reach over doorways and in other high areas, with electrical cords secured to the wall and plugged into inaccessible outlets wherever possible. When decorating a stairway in a home with children three years old or younger, avoid wrapping boughs, garlands or light strands around the stair railing or banister. These decorations pose the risk of choking or strangulation, and they also can make the stairs inviting to play on and railings difficult for small hands to grip. For a safer holiday touch, securely tie individual decorative bows or other durable accents onto the railing or banister, on the side away from the stairs.
Decorate child-accessible areas on the tree appropriately for children’s ages. Some kid-tough ornaments to consider include mini frames made from fun foam, felt, or fabric; cloth-covered foam balls, canes and other shapes; solid wood shapes; and fabric bows.
Remember to check gifts under the tree for wrappings that may be dangerous, such as tied-on ornaments and stretchy elastic cording, too
Festive, Kid-Smart Holiday Home Trimmings
Parents can easily decorate child-accessible areas throughout the house using child-friendly items with a festive twist. Consider topping a coffee table with durable wooden bowls filled with colorful children’s blocks, or quilted holiday baskets spilling festive fabric-covered foam balls. Other kid-friendly holiday décor ideas include tough acrylic candy dishes filled with holiday cookies, and carved wooden figures and charming toys tied with bright holiday bows. A children’s wooden nativity scene can make a homey, worry-free holiday centerpiece in any room, and a child-safe dash of holiday color can be added to sofas using piles of festive holiday pillows.
Add Holiday Color with Throw Pillows or Slip-on Covers
Pillows are great, worry-free way to safely add festive color and pop to a room frequented by toddlers. Switch out everyday throw pillows for seasonal colors – or look for inexpensive pillowcovers in to slip over your everyday pillows. Bed, Bath & Beyond offers a line of removable throw pillow covers in standard throw sizes. Or you can make your own no-sew pillow covers out of festive fleece patterns. See our super-easy No-Sew Fleece Pillow Project for instructions.
Kid-Smart Entertaining and Durable Holiday Table Styles
Families can enjoy festive and elegant dinner tables even in a home full of active kids. It’s easy to adorn holiday tables and buffets with plastic dinnerware, drinkware and serving pieces in styles that mimic the beauty of fine glass, ceramic and porcelain — without the danger of breakage. And make the Kid’s table the best seat in the house with ways to serve little ones in style – and keep them happy while you enjoy dinner, too!
Child Safety On-the-Go
If spending the holidays away from home, take a quick moment to rearrange for safety upon arrival. Consider packing a few portable childproofing devices such as removable babyproofing locks and a portable pressure-mounted gate. If playing host this season, ask house guests to keep medicines and toiletries safely hidden out of children’s reach, or consider clearing an inaccessible shelf for guests’ use. A careful moment will make holiday visits safer for children and more relaxing for all.
See our Childproofing Checklist – Safe Trekking with Toddlers for more tips on baby safety on-the-go.
Home Safety Never Takes a Holiday
Whether celebrating baby’s first Christmas or maintaining a home full of busy older kids, remember that safety never takes a holiday. But a little caution and creative planning can make an inviting, safe and stylish home easy to achieve for merry family holidays.