When I was a kid, my mom was so OCD about Christmas decorations that she'd actually re-decorate the tree after we got done decorating it as a family. We'd go to bed with a Charlie Brown-esque tree situation and magically wake up to a Martha Stewart magazine-worthy layout.
I eventually got frustrated with my efforts being undone, so I started stockpiling my OWN holiday stuff and carving out a space to decorate each year. It began in a corner of the basement, moved to my piano area and eventually took over my entire room. I'm sure all my relatives thought I was a total weirdo, but my friends were convinced I was the coolest kid on the block. My room was THE place to be for winter break sleepovers, and we'd stay up until all hours of the night messing with the (flashing! sparkly!) light controls and rocking out to Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You.
That independent exploration and personal ownership of the season is what instilled my love of those things today. My childhood was tumultuous, but I remember the happy winter moments as I pull the ornament box out today. Tinsel makes me giddy, and I want my kids to have those same experiences. They should feel that they have a hand in the season and that their contribution matters. So we've started our own little tradition where they're given full reign to decorate a space however they see fit.
We partnered with SANUS to put a TV in the kids' playroom a couple months back, with the idea that it would serve as their own little console/entryway area. It initially housed a bunch of books, and then we cleared it off so I could place printables on it in the morning. The boys know they're not allowed to ask me to turn the TV on (I maintain control of it with an app) until they've finished their work. A simple $20 anti-tip strap let me take a pre-existing console table, strap the television to it and also strap the table to the wall in one fell swoop. It's worked out really well, and it lends nicely to holidays!
I've talked to other parents and it seems that the post-family-re-decorating situation is the norm, and kids aren't typically given their own space to do with as they please. I think it's such a cool learning opportunity and a chance to be really creative, so I'm encouraging everyone I know to add a little sparkle to their playroom! If you're short on space or don't have a mantle, a TV mount is a safe way to avoid tip-overs and provide your kids or even yourself with the opportunity to give the home a personal spin with holiday décor.
Our boys have a few special toys and things that they've made over the years that they incorporate into their display.
As far as decorations, they have a bunch of stuffed animal ornaments that are too big for a tree, but they're nice and kid-safe for setting around a mantle or console table. My oldest went a little nuts with the tape, but I suppose that's to be expected at this age.
The 4-year-old and 2-year-old kept trying to decorate each other, and if you watch the video you'll see a couple times where the 2-year-old spazzed out and started basically just throwing ornaments around the room. He even ran smack into the TV at one point and banged his head pretty hard, but the TV didn't budge so it's still a WIN in my books.
A little kiss on the forehead and he was fine after a few minutes.
As for my role in the whole thing, I mostly just supervised and wrangled the lights (because toddlers and electricity don't mix very well). I also tried to redirect the excessive tape action.
We have baskets of Christmas books that I placed on either side of the kids' display. It's a tradition for us to read The Night Before Christmas after the lights are hung. As soon as they saw the Elf on the Shelf story, the kids naturally started wondering when the elf was going to show up.
I explained that the elf isn't at their command, and they can't just conjure him into our house. Dude's got all sorts of stuff to take care of up at the North Pole!
Moby was also a big helper, as usual.
Do your kids have a space they can decorate on their own?