Safety and Christmas Decorations

Choosing Christmas decorations and the decorating itself can be a really enjoyable aspect of Christmas. However it is very important to take into consideration that your Christmas decorations, while lovely, may not be safe or practical when you have a baby or toddler wandering round. Before decorating, take the following advice on board and follow our top ten tips for a sensational way to decorate your home this Christmas.

Babies and small children are naturally drawn to highly colourful and beautifully decorated Christmas objects. Their natural instinct is usually to place these objects in their mouths. As CEO of Kidsafe WA (Australia) Sue Wicks says: “Christmas can be a fabulous time for children and families but it can also be quickly ruined if simple safety measures are not put in place in the beginning.” Christmas decorations that are lower down the tree therefore should follow the guidelines recommended by Kidsafe: “Choose items that do not fit inside a 35mm film canister (ie no longer a choking hazard) and do not break or shatter easily.” Plunket also reinforce this choking hazard message with the ‘ping pong ball’ analogy; “anything smaller than a ping pong ball – is a choking hazard”.

The Christmas tree is often a focal point of decorations. Unfortunately it can also prove a magnet for crawling babies or very young toddlers. To keep your child a safe distance from the tree and to prevent the tree itself from incurring any damage, Wicks has this practical advice: “The simplest way to keep babies and toddlers away from Christmas trees and their decorations is to put the tree inside a playpen so that it is separated from the rest of the room and prevents access by crawlers and toddlers.” That way the Christmas tree is isolated from danger rather than making bub feel like they are the one being punished.

When you are decorating your Christmas tree it is wise to be cautious about the decorations you choose, particularly the ones that may be within reach of curious hands. If you have glass baubles it is probably safer to hand them high up on the tree out of reach. Instead of just hanging them on the tree, use a clothes peg to secure them on the branches more firmly.

According to Wicks: “The primary risks associated with Christmas decorations for very young children are choking, when small parts are put in the mouth, and cutting or piercing injuries where items are either sharp or shatter.” Consequently it is vital you choose your decorations with great care in the early years. If possible, avoid using objects like this altogether unless you know your child will be unable to reach it.

Top Ten Christmas decoration Tips

Having taken these points into consideration you can then start planning your Christmas decorations.

  1. Get out your old Christmas decorations a few weeks before. Cull anything that is falling apart, or might become a potential hazard to your little one.
  2. Don’t feel you need to overhaul your Christmas decorations completely. Instead, buy one or two special pieces that you can keep for the future. There are always some excellent sales in the pre-season so keep an eye out. It’s always nice to buy a special Christmas bauble with the year stamped on it for your little one. That collection can grow for them over the years.
  3. The key ‘must-have’ purchase is a nice centerpiece for the Christmas meal. Remember this will often be a great conversation piece so keep an eye out for something special. You can usually source one cheaply at Spotlight.
  4. Choose a colour scheme and stick with it. Whether it’s red and silver or gold and white, make it something you can live with for the Christmas period. Then when you are out and about you can pick up items that tie in with your chosen colour scheme.
  5. Make ice-cubes from fruit juices for additional festive Christmas colour and flavor in your drinks and punches.
  6. Use your old magazines and papers to cut and create decorative paper chains with your little one. They will love doing the gluing and sticking with you and make fabulous Christmas decorations.
  7. Plan your table decorations for the day itself well in advance. You can usually purchase festive disposable napkins to add a lovely accent to your table.
  8. A practical option is to use a dark green tablecloth and red disposable napkins in the traditional Christmas colours. That way those spills and accidents your little one may have won’t be as noticeable!
  9. Dim the lights. This is a great time to decorate with Christmas lights. Just make sure they are placed well away from little hands.
  10. A wreath on the front door is a great welcome. You can make a lovely hand print wreath with your little one in the lead up to Christmas by following the instructions we have here.

Remember Christmas decorations don’t have to be limited to the tree itself or even Christmas Day. You can build a great family tradition round decorating a Gingerbread tree together and leaving it proudly on display for all to see. Take a photo of your efforts as a family each year at Christmas and enjoy seeing how its presentation improves over time. Alternatively, get out your family heirloom pieces that you normally leave in the display cabinet. Pop them on display up high out of little hands reach. Decorate them with some hollies and berries and allow loved ones to be remembered during the Christmas period.

As your little ones grow up you will be able to work together decorating as a family. In the early years however, their safety is paramount. It is vital you consider their needs over the Christmas decorations that may have caught your eye in the store, or have been part of a long running tradition. You can still use Christmas decorations as long as you ensure they are safely out of reach.

It is also a wonderful time to start working as a family to create new traditions when it comes to decorating. Whether it is making a gingerbread house together, or helping them hang a bauble on the Christmas tree with their name on it, you are creating some very special memories as a family. Remember to take photos every year of your Christmas decorations. They not only serve as a reminder of the memories you created, they will also be something for you to build on as your little one grows up.