Toddler + Breakable Ornaments = ???

Mouse is one inquisitive dude. He is constantly exploring, testing, and problem solving. Train Guy is pretty positive he’s going to grow up to be an engineer because of the way he observes everything and then takes it all apart to see how it works. So it’s no surprise that he was absolutely enchanted by the Christmas tree, and by “enchanted” I mean “desperately wanted to figure out how that thing lights up and how all of those pretty ornaments feel in his hand.”

Bad cell phone pic of Mouse's creative problem solving

Like here’s an example of his problem-solving capabilities. We have some portable fencing that we use for our dogs on camping trips. We thought we would set up the tree all nice and pretty, and then surround it with the dog fence and make it Mouse-proof. It seemed like a great idea, and at first it totally worked. Mouse saw the tree, and after several rounds of “Wow! WOW!” he proceeded to conduct a very thorough investigation of the fencing to figure out how to get around it. Finding nothing, he quite simply resorted to hopping onto one of his ride-on toys and ramming the fence outright. I was laughing so hard all I could get was a crappy cell phone picture, but I had to admire his creativity.

I’m pretty damned proud of his sense of adventure and desire to learn and experience everything around him, but sometimes it’s not the safest course of action. Still, I wouldn’t change his natural sense of curiousity for the world.

Anyway, Train Guy and I collect Christmas ornaments and have gathered many from all over the world. Putting the truly breakable ones on the actual tree was clearly a bad idea, but I still wanted to display them.

From L to R: an antique ornament handed down from my grandmother, a Waterford crystal Snoopy, and a hand-painted ornament from Germany

Then I had a brainstorm. Why not buy a garland, string it up out of reach, and then hang our nice ornaments from there?

I headed over to Michaels to grab an artifical garland as well as a string of lights to make it all snazzy. Oh, an important thing to know is that I have these bursts of creating brainstorming quite frequently. A good 50% of the time they don’t work out at all. About an additional 25% they work, but not quite like I imagined them. I often run into several roadblocks along the way. This was no exception.

My first challenge was the fact that the garland was 9 feet long while the string of lights was only 7 feet. Yes, I could have purchased a longer string of lights, but these were on sale and I’m pretty cheap, so I bought two strings, thinking I could double up and make it all nice and pretty. Problem solved!

Back at home, I hit problem #2, which was that the two strings of lights I’d purchased did not, in fact, connect end-to-end to make one long continuous string. That would be the expensive lights I put back on the shelf thinking I was so clever by getting two cheaper strings. And since we only had one outlet to work with, I had to figure something out. I thought about cutting the end off the garland to make it shorter, but it’s made of this thick wire and I wasn’t sure where the wire cutters were in the first place (the garage, I presume, except the garage is sort of a hazardous area right now).

Voila!

But then it occurred to me to just bend the edges back, one foot on either side. And voila! A 7 foot garland to match my 7 foot light strand. Now I have to take the unused lights back to Michaels, but oh well. I worried about additional setbacks, but much to my delight, there were none! I managed to string the garland across two windows in our dining room, hang my nice ornaments out of reach, and they all looked quite good.

Go me!

So if you’re looking for a way to display breakable ornaments out of reach of toddlers, or just have extra ornaments you want to show off–here’s your solution!

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3 Responses

  1. What a great idea. We too have struggled with what to do with breakable ornaments. My kids are 8, 5 and 2 (almost 3), so just this year braved putting a couple non breakable ones on the tree again. Before that we had a “themed” tree, with no ornaments except an angel at the top which was too high for the kids to reach. We are big University of Kentucky fans, so we just put up blue and white lights and blue and white garland and called it a day.

  2. First of all, I LOVE that Mouse won’t be stopped! And his creative solution to defeating the fence is brilliant! Well done young man!

    Second, I love your garland solution!
    Like you, I have a collection of ornaments with great sentimental value and have kept them tucked away for the past 2 years to keep them safe from my “twin toddler destruction team”…
    I may have to make a trip to Hobby Lobby for garland supplies!

  3. That’s such a beautiful and elegant solution! I love it! I am totally planning to do this next year.

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