Boulevard Of Broken Crap: Survival Odds For Your Ten Favorite Christmas Decorations

broken christmas decorationsTrying to decorate your house in any kind of festive holiday way can be tricky when your kids are still small. Of course you want to help them catch that old Christmas spirit – but you also want them not to smash Great-Grandma’s antique hand-me-down nativity set, or even just that cute Santa-face serving dish you got on sale at Target last January. Not sure whether to hang that garland or put up that wreath? Here are the survival odds for ten of your favorite Christmas decorations.

Candy canes: 4/10. If you hang these on your Christmas tree, one or two may suffer as casualties, but they should be safe for the most part … until the kids discover that there is sweet, sweet candy underneath that plastic wrapper. After that, you’re SOL, unless you hang them all on the top branches of the tree. (Assuming your kids aren’t still so desperate for sugar that they climb the curtains to get at them, at least.)

Nativity scenes: 2/10.  There are exceptions to this ranking: we have a nice, hardy wood set, which has endured so far, despite some manhandling by the kids. But if you have the traditional ceramic figurines, well, hope you enjoy replacing poor Joseph’s head with a Play-Doh facsimile. And I’m sure that Little People Batman figure will be a good replacement for the Baby Jesus: no crying he makes, especially now that he’s in a zillion pieces on the living room floor.

Stuffed animals: 8/10. A nice fluffy Santa Bear or stuffed Grinch should be fairly safe, even when receiving a pile-driver from your maniacal three-year-old. Just watch out for the kind with plastic eyes of the sort that can be yanked free and swiftly swallowed. 911 calls are not very festive.

Decorative cookie tins: 9/10. Even if your six-year-old uses one as an impromptu soccer ball (and hopefully Santa is bringing her the real thing for Christmas), the worst it’ll endure is a few dents. And even dented cookie tins are still perfect for fulfilling their primary Christmas-cookie-holding purpose.

Mistletoe: 1/10. Pros: festive, traditional, and normally in doorways high out of the reach of young kids. Cons: kind of creepy and extremely poisonous. How much do you trust your ability to securely fasten that sprig to the door frame? I say skip it, since the possibility of your kids harming this decoration is roughly equivalent to the possibility of your kids harming themselves.

christmas wreath woodman's door swag cartWreath: 7/10. Like mistletoe, usually hung somewhere high up. Unlike mistletoe, will not actively murder your kids if it falls off its nail. We can all live with some pine needles and crumbled pine cones on the floor.

Gingerbread house: 3/10: If you have enough gingerbread to make the house without your kids (or you) gobbling most of it up, I’m impressed. I’m even more impressed if it survives the night with full architectural integrity. Come on, decorations should not be made of food – food is for eating. Putting delicious gingerbread and candy in front of kids and not expecting them to consume it like a horde of hormonal locusts surely violates the Geneva Convention.

Garlands: 4/10.  Anything you hang on the banister must inevitably succumb to offspring-induced entropy. I’ve never actually seen a child slide down the banister, but I have seen them sling their backpacks, coats, and sweaters over it. Synthetic greenery might survive for a little while, but an authentic ivy strand, or the traditional dried-cranberries-and-popcorn, is just asking for trouble. And possibly ants.

Glass bulbs: 3/10. Assuming they survived the year in storage intact, glass bulbs will soon become glass shards. Between the children, the household pets, and any inevitable convergences thereof, the Christmas tree in a household with under-fives is going to spend at least part of the Advent season lying on its side in a pile of ornament-corpses.

Tinsel: 1/10.  Finding corn in your toddler’s diaper is bad enough. Do you really want it to sparkle, too? I didn’t think so.

(Image 1: T.W. van Urk/Shutterstock, Image 2: Aimee Ogden)



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