Kid-Friendly Festivity

Ten fast and easy ideas for holiday decorating your child will love.

As busy parents juggle the demands of gift-giving, entertaining, and assorted school and religious events, the holiday season can become a source of stress rather than joy. Sometimes the key is to simplify and look for easy ways to create traditions your kids will cherish for years to come. Here are 10 favorites from Child's editorial staff.

1. When your family receives Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or New Year's greetings, let your child open and arrange the greeting cards on a tabletop, mantel, or doorway. After the holidays, your child can make a collage of all the photos you receive and display it for a few months in your kitchen or family room. Little visitors will be thrilled to see their picture in your home!

2. Tree ornaments chart the history of your family and become beloved keepsakes that children can't wait to discover anew. Buy or create a dated ornament for each year, and mark special events -- a baby's birth, a child's first year at school, a family vacation, a big victory by your favorite sports team -- with an ornament. Let kids string long-lasting garlands from hollow painted pasta.

3. Pay special attention to photography at the holidays, and display favorite snapshots in small frames. Some families choose to pose their child every year with the same prop, such as a stocking or menorah. You might also snap a yearly photo of your child placing the topper on your tree. Consider adding a dated photo ornament to your tree every year to chart your child's growth.

4. A few simple props can yield surprisingly lovely kid-made holiday decorations and gifts. At a craft store, pick up several unpainted wooden boxes in round or triangular shapes. Your child can paint the triangular boxes green to resemble a tree, then paste or paint on decorations. The round boxes can be painted to resemble Christmas tree balls. Fill the boxes with wrapped candy, if you like.

5. Wreaths are a favorite holiday decoration for many families, and children can make their own masterpieces with styrofoam wreath shapes or even a paper plate with a ring in the center cut out. Wrap the foam shapes in red, green, or striped ribbon, or cover a paper plate wreath with glued-on buttons or beads (for kids over age 4 only). Children can embellish fresh pine wreaths by tying on red bows, small pinecones, tiny Santas, or other decorative items.

6. Families who celebrate Christmas can choose and display a pretty advent calendar. Opening the tiny doors becomes a fun-filled pre-holiday morning ritual for kids. Preschoolers will love a calendar with pictures behind each door; older children can read snippets of holiday verses. The 25-door calendar also gives children a tangible way to picture how much time they'll have wait before the holiday.

7. Decorate with Christmas stockings. Even if your child has an heirloom stocking of his own, he'll have a great time personalizing basic red felt stockings for grandparents who'll be visiting for the holidays, family pets, or even relatives who live far away. Let your child glue white and green felt stars or other motifs on each stocking and write a person's or pet's name at the top. (Parents of younger children can write the name in glue and let kids sprinkle glitter on top.) Choose an interior door or mantel to display the entire collection, then mail the stockings to absent relatives as a special gift from your child.

8. Let children take charge of the holiday dinner table, decorating place cards and making an easy centerpiece of pinecones or clove-studded citrus fruit. Dig out seldom-used linens and napkin rings, and let kids use them to dress the table in high style. Take a photo of their handiwork before the holiday meal.

9. Help tiny hands decorate tiny artificial trees, available at craft stores. To make an end table look festive, kids can press gumdrops onto the branch ends or hang mini wooden ornaments on a 6" tall tree. Find ideas for decorating a styrofoam tree with candy in "Crafting Holiday Ornaments."

10. A plate of holiday cookies is the best decoration of all. Carve out an afternoon to make sugar cookies in holiday shapes, and let kids frost them with icing in various colors. Kids can mix the batter for your favorite bar cookies or drop cookies, as well, which make great gifts when packaged with recipe cards.

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