Sparkly snowflakes and family-friendly winter decorating

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by Melissa D. Jaramillo

Winter decoratingSparkly lights, the sweet scent of evergreens and holiday decorations dot most homes from Thanksgiving to New Year's. Those shiny and pretty objects can tempt a child and drive parents bonkers.

Did you spend last year rescuing ornaments and shouting "don't touch"? Maybe you're ready for a different style of holiday décor this year -- trimmings your child won't harm?

Take a peek at these simple holiday decorations kids can not only touch and play with, but can help you create!

Kid-friendly holiday decorations

Greeting card towers

Let your child arrange all the greeting cards on a tabletop or mantel. When you get tired of picking them all up yet one more time, have your helper hand you cards while you clip them to a garland or tape them on the door frames.

A bucket of fun

Fill small, colorful buckets with empty boxes, stuffed ornaments or holiday toys. They'll get a lot of attention and clean up just means filling the bucket.

A basket of books

Choose a dozen holiday books and arrange in a container for kids to read anytime. Use a wire basket, cover a box with wrapping paper, or find a special container to house your new tradition.

Christmas dolls and toys

Set a few dolls and toys around. They make wonderful kid-friendly decorations. Each season, when you unpack the decorations, they'll seem like a new toy. Make it a tradition to make or find a new addition to your holiday family.

Homemade decorations

Felt Christmas tree

If you have a toddler or preschooler, you want to make a felt tree and plenty of "ornaments." They can decorate and undecorate their tree all they want and might leave the family tree alone.

Cut a tree from green felt. Attach it to the wall with several adhesive strips. Make ornaments from felt scraps in a variety of colors. We have mostly circles, but a few other shapes and one golden star. Attach decoration to your ornaments using heat n bond or a hot glue gun.

Of course, for this plan to work effectively, you'll have to play with the felt tree, too. A small child knows that what mom doesn't value isn't worth the kid's time.

A blizzard full of sparkly snowflakes

Cut paper snowflakes and make a wreath of them on the wall, holding each in place with poster putty or get out the thread and tape, and watch your family's own gentle snowstorm materialize in your living room.

To make sparkly snowflakes, tape waxed paper to your work surface. With white glue, outline a snowflake shape, connecting all the lines. Sprinkle liberally with glitter and allow it to dry. Shake the excess glitter back into its container and peel your snowflake off the paper. Stick it to the window and make another.

Garlands

In kindergarten, we glued together strips of paper to make paper chain garlands. Garlands can grace a doorway, swoop across a window or flow from branch to branch on your tree. This project hasn't changed with time. You can use construction or shiny decorated paper or print out designs.

Draw lines about an inch apart across a piece of paper. Show your child how to cut one the lines. Once you have a pile of several different colors, choose a strip and put a dab of glue on one end. Form a loop, overlapping the ends about 1/2 inch. Hold in place a few seconds. Make the next link the same except place it through your first circle before gluing the ends. Keep cutting and gluing until your chain is as long as you want.

Some families write scriptures, "thankfuls" or favorites on each link. Others list activities and use the garland as a holiday countdown.

Have you finished decorating your home for the holidays yet? Do you find you take a more family-friendly approach now? What's your favorite?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.