Each year, choose new ornaments for your children that represent some part of their lives in the last year: a ballerina for a budding dancer, a water-skiing Santa to remind your child of a family trip to the beach. Wrap the new treasures up and let your children open them to kick off the tree-trimming. Bonus: The yearly additions add up to a personalized ornament collection that your kids can take with them when they're grown up.
Arrange a tree-trimming round robin. Invite two or three families to share in the fun, and go from home to home to hang ornaments and drape garlands. (It's best to take care of the lights beforehand.) Make sure each family provides a little something to munch on, too, like savory appetizers at one stop, steaming mugs of cocoa at another.
Pick up a small table-top tree for your child's bedroom, and let her add a splash of personality by decking it with stuff she has on hand: small dolls or stuffed animals, hair ribbons, jewelry.
Turn trimming the tree into an all-day affair by creating craft stations for assembling a few kid-friendly ornaments. Some to try: pretty printable ornaments that toddlers can color, or for older kids, glittery plastic foam stars, or candy cane picture frames. Make sure to date the finished product and you'll have brand-new keepsakes -- and many memories.
Keep sibling squabbles at bay by making slips of paper for important tree-trimming jobs -- plugging in the lights, spreading out the tree skirt, placing the star atop the tree -- and having each child draw a duty out of a hat. Another way to keep the peace: Divvy up the ornaments beforehand so your kids each get the same number of ornaments to hang.
Before you trim the tree, bake cookies that double as decorations. Whip up a batch of festive gingerbread figures or sugar cookie stars, using a drinking straw to punch a hole in each cookie before you bake. After they're cool, thread them with a pretty ribbon and hang them on lowest branches, where they'll be a harmless treat for babies or toddlers who get their hands on them.
Extend the fun with a scavenger hunt. Hide your favorite ornaments around the house and create clues to help your kids find them. Stick a few new treasures in the mix to boost the thrill of the hunt.
Exchange store-bought tinsel for a handmade garland. Even toddlers can thread a piece of yarn with o-shaped cereal; older kids can learn to poke a needle through popcorn or fresh cranberries. Expect plenty of munching as you work, so have extra supplies on hand. Your kids will love admiring their handiwork all season long.
Copyright © 2009 Meredith Corporation.