Gathering the family ‘round the tree

Gathering the family ‘round the tree

Story by Michelle Stein

As the holiday season draws near, families will soon be preparing to deck the halls with boughs of holly — or whatever decorations happen to suit their fancy.

And for many, that includes a Christmas tree.

Whether it’s part of a religious celebration or a secular one, there’s really no wrong way to do a Christmas tree. It also happens to be a great opportunity to carry on old holiday traditions (or start new ones altogether) with your family.

But getting the entire family involved … sometimes that takes work.

Have the kids make or pick out an ornament to put on the tree.

The good news is, handmade ornaments only need to be as involved as you want them to be. A photo ornament is always a simple, yet memorable option. And honestly, you can’t really go wrong with anything involving a small child’s handprint or fingerprint. (There are plenty of ornament kits out there, too, that take the guesswork out of it all.) Plus, who doesn’t love a good Pinterest challenge? Pick your angle, and get creating; the possibilities are endless.

Or, you could always go the store-bought route. As a shamelessly uncrafty mom who is often short on time and patience with things like glue, paint and glitter, this is my personal preference. (Hallmark is where it’s at, folks.)

Either way — homemade or store-bought —the kiddos will love having something of their own to contribute to the tree.

Go together to buy lights/candy canes/garland/tinsel.

Another family opportunity can be making a trip to the store to pick up other tree decorations. Although you can probably use lights and garland from previous years, picking out candy canes and other fun trimmings can be fun for everyone.

Make fake tree assembly/picking out a live tree a family effort.

For some families, nothing but a live tree will do during the holiday season. If this is you, then consider going as a family to pick out the perfect fir, spruce or pine. (And then make watering it/cleaning up the needles a family affair, too.)

If you’re like me, however, and prefer zero-maintenance fake trees, the whole fam can still get in on the fun. Have younger children sort the branches into piles, while older kids start inserting them into the correct notches. Parents can then go through and help spread out and blend the branches together, ensuring there aren’t any obvious gaps anywhere.

Let the kiddos place ornaments/candy canes on the tree.

Crank up that holiday music and get the decorating party started! Although it’s probably best to let the adults handle the lights, let the kids go wild with the rest. Even if all the ornaments end up at the bottom in one clump, resist the urge to “fix” their work. They’ll love seeing the end result and they’ll feel proud that they helped make it happen. If you really want to make a little one’s day, then hoist them up to place the final touch — a star or an angel — on the top of the tree.

However, if the kids’ tree-decorating execution really bugs you, then …

Consider having more than one tree.

Many families opt to have multiple Christmas trees — one for the kids and one for the adults. That way, parents can still have their immaculate/themed tree and the kids can take charge of their own “masterpiece.” It’s a win-win, really, because there’s twice the festivity and everyone is happy.

Pro tip: If you don’t want pets involved in the Christmas tree fun in a highly unpleasant way, then skip the tinsel. Seriously, trust me on this one.

Salt Magazine

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