Why My Kids Decorate the Tree: 5 Good Reasons (and 2 Bad Ones)

Written by: Jorinde Berben
Image credit: Jorinde Berben

Tadaaaa! It’s December 6th, Saint Nicholas day here in Belgium (I mentioned it previously in this post on children’s gifts), and for our family, it’s also traditionally the day we set up the Christmas tree. The school my children go to always has a day off on the 6th, so we have plenty of time to get decorating together.

The first few years after my kids were born, I used to pride myself in looking up the most awe inspiring trees on Pinterest, finding ornaments that matched our personal ideals and creating an overall harmonious atmosphere. I love Christmas and my home had to show it.

And then the eldest turned 3, or maybe 4. Either way, she turned the age at which kids want to help decorating the tree. I have to admit, it took me some time to let them. It took me a year or two not to decorate my own half of the tree and then turn it around after they finished.

The last few years, the two of them have handled most of the decorating. I just put the tree up and wrap the lights around. And no, it doesn’t look anything like a tree you’d see in a mall or magazine. It looks chaotic and interesting and every year a few baubles crash in the making off.

Despite my desire for harmony, order and beauty, these are the 5 good reasons I let my kids decorate our Christmas tree.

  1. Ornaments carry memories.
    Some of the ornaments we have were made by the kids themselves in school. Some were in our tree when I was a child. Some were made by others for us and some are souvenirs. Looking at the tree now may not instill a feeling of peace or calm, but it sure invites you for walk down memory lane.
  2. The kids take pride in what they do.
    They feel like they are up for this, that they are capable. In a world where they often feel frustrated at what they can’t do, this is a feeling I nurture when I can.
  3. It’s not perfect, so I don’t stress.
    Since I’m not striving for any specific look, wanting to get things just right, I am able to let go completely of the end result and feel far less stressed about it. If one side is full of ornaments and the other side looks totally green, I might move some stuff around. But other than that, I don’t fret over the end product and it always ends up looking Christmassy anyway.
  4. I don’t worry about accidents.
    If I’d gone all out and bought new baubles, ribbons and bows, I’d worry about what would break. Now I don’t mind so much. I’m not very attached to any of these ornaments.
  5. It’s eco-friendly decorating.
    We reuse old decorations over and over, and since we have quite a few, I don’t ever buy new ones. There are a lot of mismatched ornaments in the tree that would otherwise have a hard time fitting in. Knowing these oddballs (pun intended) have a place where they can feel at home, gives me a special kind of happy feeling.

There are also two bad reasons why I don’t mind so much either that they decorate the tree. I call them ‘bad’ reasons because they don’t really originate from a character quality, per sé.

  1. My kids are a great excuse for a messy looking tree.
    Saying ‘My kids decorated the tree, I know, it’s messy’ is a great way out of making my house look as perfect as I secretly hope it will.
  2. It takes very little effort on my part.
    I don’t have to put any thought into the decorations. I just take the box out of the attic, and they pretty much do the rest. It means that I can get out of putting in the attention to detail I like to pay to other things.

My kids decorating the tree is a temporary thing. They won’t always want to help, I know that. They won’t always decorate in this way either. Perhaps in a few years, my daughter will already be more critical about what goes in the tree and where.

So while they last, I’m going to enjoy these years, with a tree that screams innocence and joy and ‘Let it Gooooo!’ I’m going to relax knowing things might look imperfect, but are already perfect in so many ways.

Happy Saint Nicholas Day to all of you!

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