Parents of toddlers who are planning to get a Christmas tree may be asking themselves how they are going to keep the kids away from the decorated Christmas tree. For those who lack a room where the Christmas tree can be gated off, placing the tree in a playpen may be the solution. Also called a pack-and-play or portable bed, the playpen is the safest and best place for a Christmas tree loaded down with glass and choking hazards.
Most households with toddlers already have a playpen available. If guests with toddlers are coming to spend the night, they can bring their own playpen or the hosts can borrow one from a neighbor with kids. This solution can also be a lesson in re-using and recycling if the toddler has outgrown the playpen. Used playpens are inexpensive if the household lacks one.
Prepare the Playpen
If the playpen is still being used by a toddler in the home, follow this step to keep the playpen from being soiled. Line the bottom of the playpen with an old flannel-backed tablecloth to keep the bottom of the playpen fresh. This also provides a white backdrop inside the playpen.
Simple Storage Solution
Placing the Christmas tree inside the playpen provides the perfect place to store wrapped gifts until Christmas Day arrives. Although the kids might be tempted to look through the sides of the playpen, they will not be able to get to the gifts.
Of course, placing the Christmas tree in a playpen creates a unique decorating dilemma. Does the playpen need to be disguised? Only if the decorations added to the outside of the playpen don’t attract the toddlers who are supposed to be lulled into ignoring the Christmas tree. A little garland and some red bows hide the nursery school pattern on the outer fabric.
Childproofing the Christmas Tree
Decorating the Christmas tree, parents can put a layer of soft, unbreakable, not-very-special or otherwise kid-friendly ornaments to fill the 2- or 3-foot void above the top of the playpen. Gradually increasing how special and how breakable the ornaments are as the decorating approaches the top will keep little ones away from the cherished ornaments at the top. Of course, parents may choose to remove breakables and choking hazards from the Christmas tree entirely.
A Christmas Tree to Remember
Finally, here are two other reasons to consider this idea. There will be no shortage of conversation from visiting friends and family. Parents of older children will marvel at this technique and wonder why they never thought of it themselves. Parents of toddlers will declare they will steal the idea for next Christmas. And parents of pets will co-op the idea for themselves. The playpen does a fantastic job of not only keeping away toddlers; it works wonders with new puppies too.
Placing a Christmas tree in a playpen may seem like an odd idea, but creative solutions are often necessary in homes with active toddlers. By next year, the children will be old enough to learn to stay away from the tree.